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Do SIM cards expire if not used? (All you need to know)

Last Updated on May 27, 2022 by Kennedy

Ever try to think if indeed do SIM cards expire if not used for network services like calls, text messages or for a mobile data.

Sim cards are among one of the important aspect of our life as many people cannot do without having a SIM card in their smartphone. To make or receive calls, send or receive text messages, receive notifications about your bank account, or even to browse the internet using a cellular data you really need to have a sim card in your phone. 

Now you bought a new sim card which you haven’t activated or used it, and you’re trying to figure out if at all will the sim card will expire if you don’t activate or use it.

I will explain all you need to know about this topic cause I can see that a lot number of people are asking this very question, do SIM cards expire if not used.

So lot’s head straight to the answer.

Do SIM cards expire if not used?

The simple answer is yes. Sim card do expire if not used or activated as it do have a validity period for a user to activate and start using the sim card.

Every sim card has it’s validity period which is usually a maximum of three years or more if not activated by the user.

Once the sim card expires, the sim number will be assigned to another user after some period of time though it depends on the network service provider and their rules for expired sim card. 

Now let me explain this to you.

If you bought a new sim card, activated it but didn’t use the sim after a period of three years or five years, the sim card will be deactivated by the network provider or the sim carrier network.

However, it is necessary to contact your network and inquire if their sim card so expire after not being used for a long period of time as I’m writing this based on my network provider. 

This is very important for you to note. It doesn’t end in buying and activating a sim card then you left it idle for many years. Definitely the sim card will be deactivated and in some sense you can say the sim has expired.

I’m stressing this two important things cause they are essential to this very topic do SIM cards expire if not used for a period of time.

Normally, when you bought a new sim card you will see where the validity period is written on the sim pack, or on the body of the sim card depending on the network carrier.

From the validity period you will attain or get to know when the sim card will expire.

No need asking do SIM cards expire if not used cause you will definitely see it on the sim card pack unless your network is doesn’t state it on the sim card pack. 

However, in some cases whereby the sim card validity period is not written anywhere on the sim card pack or on the sim card itself, you should kindly contact your network provider and make an inquiry for that. 

All in all, the answer to the question of the day do SIM cards expire if not used is a big yes cause sim cards do expire if not used or get deactivate if not used as well.

In order to keep your sim card working, make sure to activate the sim and not only that always use it at least once in three months or a maximum of five months to avoid disconnection or deactivating of the sim card by the network provider.

How to know if a sim card has expired 

To know if a sim card has has expired, once a sim card shows no network service or you can’t make calls and send sms text messages, it is a strong indication the sim card has expired. 

In other words, the sim card has damaged. Once a sim card gets expired it simply means damaged because the sim card will no longer be useful anymore.

Below is how to know if a sim card has expired;

  • If after inserting a sim card shows no network service. 
  • If a sim card says no sim card inserted. 
  • If you can’t use a sim card to make calls or send sms text messages. 
  • You can’t use cellular data on the sim card.

How to prevent sim card from expiring

To prevent a sim card from expiring, simply recharge the sim card for at least three times per year and this will prevent a given sim card from expiring. 

However, if you are traveling to another country for quite a long period of time and which you wouldn’t want the sim card to expire, you have to contact your network provider and make your request. 

They will keep the sim card for you for a longer period of time or probably will not assign the sim card to anyone other than you until you back to the country. Every network provider does this and it will only cost you a small token though it depends on the network fee for such services. 


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How to activate expired SIM card

There’s no no possible means to activate an expired sim card except if the network carrier reactivate the sim card. 

Honestly, when a sim card gets expired, you cannot active it anymore unless you contact the carrier network to renew the expired sim card for you. 

Do SIM cards expire if not used

If you try to activate an expired sim card, it will definitely fail to activate or you will see an error message on your screen. In most cases, all you need to do is to contact your network provider to help you out in renewing the sim card.

Most times they won’t and you have to get a new sim card for your smartphone. 

This is why you shouldn’t let your sim get expired or deactivated. Try to activate the sim card and if it is not your main number, try to use it to make calls three times in five months and it get deactivated.

Do SIM cards expire if not used on Vodafone?

The answer is yes. Vodafone sim card do expire if not used as they tends to have a validity period of three years.

If you bought a new Vodafone sim card, you better activate the sim within three years else it will expire and you have to get a new sim card.

The expired Vodafone sim card will no longer be assigned to you, and the only option you have is to buy a new vodafone sim card.

Again if you have a Vodafone sim card which is activated but rarely used or you don’t use the sim card at all, you have a time period of five years to use the sim card else it will be deactivated.

Moving onto T-Mobile network. 

Does T-Mobile SIM cards expire?

The answer is yes. T-Mobile sim card do expire or get deactivated if not used for a longer period of time which is usually five years after activating the sim card.

If you bought a new T-Mobile sim card but didn’t activate it, you have a valid period of two years to activate the sim card else it will expire or assigned to another person.

All these is to answer the question we have on this post, do SIM cards expire if not used or activated for a period of time.

How long does a sim card last if not used?

SIM card usually last from two years to five years if not used or before it get deactivated by the network provider or the sim carrier network.

In general, sim card validity depends on the sim network or the sim carrier. Some sim carriers have a validity period of two years, some are three years, while some are five years.

To get the best or the accurate answer to question of validity of a SIM card, you have to contact your network provider and make the inquiry cause sim card validity depends on the network provider.

If you’re leaving for another country for a longer period of time, you should contact your network provider to preserve the sim card so as to prevent or stop them from deactivating the sim card due to inactivity.

Whether you have a Straight Talk sim card, T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, Vodafone, 02, EE, three sim card, etc they all expire if not activated or used for a long period of time.

How long does it take for a prepaid SIM to deactivate if you don’t use it? 

It do take three to five years though it depends on the network service provider. 

For example, my network service provider will deactivate a sim card if not use for more than a year and five months. My other network will deactivate a sim card if not used after two years. 

But generally, it take three to five years to deactivate a prepaid sim card if has not been used. Talking about used, I simply mean to load airtime on the sim card, make cellular calls and send sms text messages.

How to check SIM card expiry date

To check sim card expiry date, look at the sim card pack and you will see the expiry date of a sim card. 

If it is not written on the sim card pack, check the on the sim card itself and the expiry date should be right there. Every sim card has the expiry date written on the sim card pack or probably written on the sim card.

Related Questions 

How to know if your SIM card is expired Globe

To know if your globe sim card has expired, once it didn’t show network service in your mobile phone, it simply means the sim card has expired. 

Another means is to try to make calls, send sms text messages or try to use cellular data on your smartphone. If it doesn’t work, it is means the sim card has been deactivated by the network. 

This same applies to any other network.

Can an expired sim card be reactivated?

Majorly an expired sim card cannot be reactivated but rather the user will be issued a new SIM card.

In most cases when a sim card gets expired the sim phone number will be assigned to another person or to a new sim card. 


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This is where I wrap it up but do remember that sim card do expire or gets deactivated if not used for a long period of time. This is why you must have your sim card active by making calls with it, sending and receiving text messages, browsing with internet with the sim if you don’t fancy using the Wi-Fi.

If you still have more doubts on do SIM cards expire if not used, kindly contact your network provider for more information or answers especially when it comes to sim card validity or how long does a sim card last if not used.