If you’ve recently picked up a second-hand phone that was previously on Vodafone's network or you’re preparing to sell one yourself, then it’s most likely carrier-locked. This means that it can’t be used on any network other than Vodafone’s. Don’t worry though, this isn’t a permanent state. We show you how to unlock the device so that it can access any mobile network.

Unlocking a phone if you’re a Vodafone customer

If you’re thinking of moving networks or want to sell/give your current handset to someone else, then you’ll need to request a NUC (Network Unlock Code) from Vodafone.

This is done via the online Network Unlock Code request form page, where you’ll need to answer several questions. These include the type of account you have, whether you’ve used the phone with your current SIM, and if your account is in arrears.

how to unlock a phone locked to vodaphone

With those out of the way you’ll then need to enter your account details, mobile number, phone manufacturer (Samsung, Apple, Nokia, etc.), and the device’s IMEI number.

This last one can be found in the following ways:


Open the Phone app > Tap Keypad > enter *#06# 

Your IMEI number should appear without pressing the dial button.

You can see other ways to find the IMEI on an iPhone on our sister site Macworld UK.

Android devices

Go through the steps on our How to find a phone’s IMEI guide.

Chances are, it'll simply be a case of opening your phone's dialler or phone app, and again dialling *#06#, as on an iPhone.

Back to removing Vodafone's carrier lock

Once this is done, click Submit and the request will be sent to Vodafone. You should receive an email from Vodafone to confirm your email address within an hour (you may need to check your spam folder if you don't see it).

The company states that it will contact you with  NUC code within 48 hours but if it needs to get in touch with the phone manufacturer then this could cause a delay of up to ten days. You’ll be informed if the latter is happening, so you’ll always know what’s going on.

When the code is ready it will be emailed to you, along with instructions on how to use it. This usually amounts to turning the phone off, inserting the non-Vodafone SIM card, turning it back on, then entering the NUC when prompted.

Vodafone also has this handy video guide to walk you through the NUC request form:

See our Best SIM-only deals roundup to find out what's currently topping the charts. 

Unlocking a phone if you’re not a Vodafone customer

Should you be the recipient of a phone previously used on the Vodafone network, then your route to unlocking it is slightly different.

If at all possible, asking the person who gave you the phone to go through the steps above would be the easiest option. It doesn’t matter if they’ve left Vodafone, so long as they used the phone on the network in the past.

Otherwise, Vodafone states that you’ll need to buy a Pay-As-You-Go SIM and use it in the phone for 30-days. The reason for this, it says, is to confirm that you are the one to whom the device belongs.

When the 30-days are up you can then follow the instructions above for requesting a NUC number.