- If iMessage or FaceTime is stuck on the “Waiting for activation” screen, try resetting both apps.
- You can also try restarting your phone, refreshing your connection, or resetting your Apple ID.
- Other steps to try include ensuring time and date are correct or updating or resetting your device.
When you create an Apple ID account, you get free access to both iMessage and FaceTime. These apps let you text or video-chat with anyone, no cellphone plan required — all you need is an internet connection.
Before you can use iMessage or FaceTime on your Apple devices, you’ll need to activate them. In most cases, they’ll activate as soon as you finish setting up your device. Sometimes it can take up to a day, and on rare occasions, the apps will remain stuck on the “Waiting for activation” message.
If your iMessage and FaceTime apps are stuck on this message for more than a day, there are a few easy steps you can take to fix it.
Quick tip: Before trying any of the steps below, close and then reopen the iMessage or FaceTime apps to see if that fixes the issue – sometimes, restarting an app is all it takes to resolve an issue.
How to fix the Waiting for activation error message
Try the following steps to fix your issue.
Check Apple’s server status page
When iMessage and FaceTime “activate,” what they’re really doing is contacting Apple’s servers to see if you’re using a legitimate Apple ID. So if Apple’s servers aren’t working, your apps can’t activate.
Apple has a website that tracks all of its servers and notes if any go offline. Check that the FaceTime and iMessage tabs have a green dot next to them — if the dots are yellow or red instead, the servers are having issues.
If that’s the case, just wait for Apple to repair the servers.
Make sure that you’re connected to the internet
Unlike SMS texting and regular phone calls, iMessage and FaceTime use the internet, not cellphone signals. So if you’re not connected to a Wi-Fi or data plan, they’re not going to work.
Open Safari and make sure you can load multiple websites. If you can’t, or they load incredibly slow, you’ve found the culprit. Connect to a stronger internet connection and restart your device.
If you have a good connection but it still won’t activate, try resetting your network settings, and try again.
Note: Resetting your network settings will erase all of your saved Wi-Fi passwords.
Refresh your connections to iMessage and FaceTime
In your device’s Settings app, you can toggle iMessage and FaceTime on or off. Usually, you’ll use these toggles to turn the services off, but you can also use them to refresh your connection to Apple’s servers.
1. Open the Settings app on your Apple device.
2. Scroll down and tap Messages.
3. Toggle off the iMessage button – when it’s off, it will have a gray background instead of a green one.
4. Tap Settings in the top left corner of the screen and head back to the main settings page.
5. Tap FaceTime.
6. Toggle off the FaceTime button.
7. Restart your device.
8. Go back into your Settings app to turn both iMessage and FaceTime back on.
Check the apps again to see if the “Waiting for activation” screen is still there.
Sign out of your Apple ID account
iMessage and FaceTime are connected to your Apple ID account; this account is used to access iCloud and other Apple services that require ID. Refreshing your device’s Apple ID might fix the issue.
1. Open the Settings app on your device.
2. Tap your name at the top of the screen.
3. Tap Sign Out at the bottom of the Apple ID page. You might have to enter your password to fully log out.
4. Once you’re signed out, restart your device.
5. When it starts back up, open the Settings app.
6. Tap the Sign in option at the top of the page.
7. Log into your Apple ID account.
After logging in, check iMessage and FaceTime.
Check that your time and date are correct
If the time and date on your device are wrong, it can mess with your connection to Apple’s servers. You can fix this through the Settings app.
1. Open the Settings app.
2. Tap General.
3. Tap Date & Time.
4. Make sure that the Set Automatically button is toggled on. If it’s not, swipe it to the right and restart your device.
Once the device restarts, check iMessage and FaceTime.
Update your iPhone, iPad, or iPod
You should keep your devices updated whenever possible. If you fall behind on updates, your apps can stop working.
Quick tip: For more information, read our guide on how to update your iPhone apps.
To update an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch:
1. Open the Settings app.
2. Tap General.
3. Tap Software Update.
4. If your device has an update waiting, the page will tell you what it is and what it includes. Tap Download and install or just Install to update.
Your device will restart automatically to install the update. Once it turns back on, check iMessage and FaceTime.
Factory reset your device
A factory reset clears your device’s settings, apps, and data. It’ll return it to the state it was in when you first purchased it.
Resetting your iPhone, iPad, or iPod to factory settings should be the last fix you try. But if nothing else works, it’s almost guaranteed to fix iMessage and FaceTime.
For information on how to reset your device and make sure you don’t lose any important data, check out our article on factory resetting your iPhone. You can use the same steps on your iPad or iPod Touch.
Contact your carrier
If you have tried all the steps above and you’re still seeing the “Waiting for activation” screen after 24 hours, it could be that iMessage and FaceTime are failing to send that important activation SMS. Contact your carrier and make sure you’re able to send and receive SMS messages.
Once you’re able to send and receive SMS messages, you might get a pop-up that says “Your carrier may charge for SMS messages used to activate FaceTime and iMessage.”
If so, tap OK.
Now wait and see if the “Waiting for activation” screen disappears.
Contact Apple Support
If none of these methods worked, your device might have a bigger issue. In this case, you’ll have to ask for help directly from the Apple support team.
You can contact Apple in a few different ways using your phone or computer. Check out our guide to contacting Apple’s support team for details.