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When traveling, it’s helpful to use a temporary local SIM card to increase coverage and reduce cost. Swapping your physical SIM with a new one gives you seamless access to apps that rely on data (e.g. WhatsApp, Messenger) while also giving you 30 days of seamless access to Apple’s services (e.g. iMessages, FaceTime).

The latter is only possible because of how Apple treats a new physical SIM card:

  1. You get a “iMessage and FaceTime Number” notification “### will continue to be registered for iMessage and FaceTime. You can change this in Messages Settings."
  2. When you go to the iMessage settings, you see that it has a 30 day counter and says “This number is registered to your Apple ID, but is not associated with this phone. You can keep using the number for iMessage and FaceTime until it expires.”

This is perfect since it means for any trip less than 30 days, you’ll experience zero disruption on Apple's services too while using the local SIM.

As of 2018, rather than using a physical SIM, you can now use an eSIM, and newer phones only allow you to use an eSIM.

When attempting to temporarily disable1 my original SIM and enable the local eSIM, I don't see how to get the same 30-day iMessage grace period.

Is there a way to disable my original SIM, enable a temporary local eSIM, but still use iMessage/FaceTime with my original number (e.g. for 30 days)?


1 I’m disabling the old SIM since it’s the only way to guarantee I don’t accidentally get charged by my carrier if I send/receive a call/text/data on my old number. For example, assume I leave my original SIM on, but set Default Voice Line to the local eSIM. I could still incur charges if someone sends an SMS to my old number, or if I pick up a call sent to my old number.

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    Some feedback: i think this Q can be boiled down to “when changing SIMs, Apple give a 30 period to fix…yada, yada” and a succinct question of “How can I temporarily disable my original SIM/eSIM?” Can you edit out the “elevator pitch” around this? As written it’s a bit heavy to read.
    – Allan
    Apr 4, 2023 at 19:18

2 Answers 2

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You will want to leave your original SIM (eSIM or physical) enabled so that you can continue using it as the iMessage phone number. Just disable roaming completely so that it doesn't incur charges.

If you don't have an option to do this in your phone settings, reach out to your carrier. For example, AT&T can disable roaming if you contact their support (and may be able to do it on the website).

As a bonus, if your carrier properly supports it (if you have Wi-Fi calling support, it likely will) then your phone will allow you to send/receive SMS & make/receive calls over the local eSIM data connection without incurring roaming charges on your original SIM.

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Verizon treats WiFi calling as if you are roaming, btw, so I wouldn't recommend using the WiFi calling if you are trying not to incur roaming charges unless you check with your carrier first

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  • Do you have any evidence of this? Verizon's website specifically says this isn't the case verizon.com/support/wifi-calling-faqs/#cost "Calls & texts when you're outside the US" says "Calling back to the US is free"
    – Ezekiel
    Jun 8, 2023 at 18:30
  • Calling back to the US. Not getting a text or a call FROM the US.
    – Luther
    Jun 9, 2023 at 13:57
  • There are not typically differences in calling/receiving a call after you pick up. Are you basing this on personal experience? If so - did you verify that roaming was completely shut off and you had no service without the Wi-Fi?
    – Ezekiel
    Jun 9, 2023 at 15:02
  • @Ezekiel the Verizon page very specifically says 'calls TO the US'. However it very conveniently (!) leaves out 'calls FROM the US' in its chart. Technically speaking if you're out of the country they have to 'find you' which is traditionally why roaming used to be justifiable. But if it's wifi calling then it's just through the internet so it really shouldn't matter. I guess you have to call them. In any case I ditched Verizon after 20 years for Visible instead which doesn't offer roaming in UK - so I can just leave my US number active but yes I'll still turn off data roaming to be sure. Jan 13 at 21:02
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    @Simon_Weaver While true, I think that phrasing is inconsequential. They won't charge for Wi-Fi calls in either direction for either party.
    – Ezekiel
    Jan 14 at 3:58

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