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activating eSIM on an existing ATT number


activating eSIM on an existing ATT number

I have an iPhone XS and was very excited to get the eSIM activated with my current number and keep the sim tray empty for when I travel abroad and use those sims cards. I recently went to the store to request the QR code or whatever I'd need to get my number activated on the eSIM. I was told my store staff as well as ATT customer care that the only way I can get the eSIM service activated is to add a whole new line, which doesn't sound right to me at all. Has anyone else run into his issue when requesting the same thing from ATT? any help is appreciated!

Message 1 of 34

Re: activating eSIM on an existing ATT number

Hi Forum,


Finally a good news.


Just called the AT&T call center and found the best employee ever, Barbara.

She confirmed that I can use my existing number on the eSim and that I do NOT need to add a new line...so I make her mail me the QR and she said to call again when I have in my hand so that can switch the IMEI numbers, thats all.


Let's see.


Thanks again ALL for your help. 

Message 21 of 34

Re: activating eSIM on an existing ATT number

That’s fantastic! I’m happy to learn that you can get the QR code also emailed!!! Now to just have more Barbara’s out there to help the rest of us still fighting the battle with stubborn AT&T staff. 

Message 22 of 34

Re: activating eSIM on an existing ATT number

Great thread all!  I do have a question, and it may be a simple/obvious answer.  If we move our primary number (that also has our data plan associated with it), to the eSIM, and then add perhaps a cheap prepaid physical nano-SIM to the phone, does all of the data usage stay associated with the primary number but now go "through" the eSIM....if that's even a thing to be concerned about.  


I'm not worried about international travel. I just want to add a cheap talk/text plan only to my Xs Max for my business line.

Or, instead of moving my primary number to eSIM, should I just leave my primary cell number as the physical nano-SIM as it is now, and just add a $30/mo prepaid (w/auto pay) to the eSIM?

Message 23 of 34

Re: activating eSIM on an existing ATT number

Yes you actually can have exactly that! I have my eSim activated with my original old number and since that plan has limited data usage I actually got a prepaid line with unlimited data and was able to designate specific functions for each line in the phone settings. I make calls and texts with my original line and my prepaid line is what drives my data.


if I were you I would keep my options open by having the physical sim tray be the interchangeable one, swapping physical sims is much easier that activating the eSim everytime

Message 24 of 34

Re: activating eSIM on an existing ATT number

Unfortunately the staff at AT&T isn’t to blame as the corporate team failing to train out the process. I went to three Greatet Philadelphia corporate stores and was told the same thing at each store. A new line is the only way to get an esim. Followed by an auto defensive response from the manager and employees that the process is  something Apples to blame for.. which couldn’t be more wrong. As I toyed with each of the stores to see what other bogus info that would fall from their lips, the end result was always the same. A long time family plan and company plan account holder of ATT&T who has never missed a payment, still left each store with out an esim to use in my new XS. One store, actually shut my phone off while i was in the store waiting to speak with the manager. Ridiculous and painting a clearer picture of which direction the company is headed to. So the fix: contact 1-800-331-0500 and then ask to file a complaint. A representative from Texas will hop on the phone and explain that you are in a Corp store and they are refusing to provide a esim to you without activating a new line. They will then speak to their supervisor who will then speak to the store leader. Pay your $5 for the plastic esim qr code card and on your merry way will you be. Come on ATT... Verizon and T-Mobile email the esim...... without all the hassle. TMobile is still just for prepaid grant it, but still something like this shouldn’t be so hard. 

Message 25 of 34

Re: activating eSIM on an existing ATT number

It’s disappointing! I have been with ATT over 10 years and now I am contemplating leaving them for another company! Not good

Message 26 of 34

Re: activating eSIM on an existing ATT number

Esim activation is a 2 minutes job only , at&t need to train or send some information to store staff, we can convert existing number or can add another number from at&t or from any other carrier
Message 27 of 34

Re: activating eSIM on an existing ATT number

I did it, I am operating my existing (former physical nano sim card) phone # on the iphone xs esim

Call att and have them send you a physical esim card with QR code. It takes a few days. I asked for the card only and when it came there does not seem to be a new line assigned since it has my existing # on the work order sheet the QR card came with.

Once you get it call ATT technical support. The cust srvc reps you get initially don't have a clue.

Tech support asked me to turn phone off and I read him numeric bar code from esim QR card I got in the mail.

he did some typing in background, had me scan my QR code and removed my physical SIM.

And after a few minutes I am on esim.

I removed my physical nano sim card and tested, messages, phone calls and internet; it all works.


it can be done..speak to tech support .. they have a clue. Cust srvc reps you reach initially don't have a clue.

I popped my wife's nano sim into my phone and my phone prompt me to add another line, which I don't want to since its her #, so I know if I pop a sim card in now I can have an extra line.

Message 28 of 34

Re: activating eSIM on an existing ATT number

I just assigned my nano sim physical card to my esim on my iphone XS.

Jose from ATT tech support helped me, he had a latin accent and knows his stuff.

Before Jose the cust rep was ignorant, she said esim only works with apple watch; i said my understanding is you can use it for extra phone line. She then transferred me to tech support (Jose); so there is a lack of training at ATT for this new feature.



1. a few days ago I called ATT and had them send me a QR code esim (supposedly rep said new line need to be activated and I explained I just want my existing nano sim # transferred to my esim). after going back and forth I said just send me the QR code esim card. I checked my ATT online account and no new number added. So even though they sent me QR code esim card in mail I don't think a new # was added

2. After getting QR code in mail, before doing anything I called ATT to have tech walk me thru it all.

3. I said I want my existing # on nano to transfer to esim to leave physical slot open. Jose said yes it can be done.

4. He asked for ICCID # (last row) on esim QR code card I got in the mail. He did some background work while I waited. I turned my phone off as he asked. After a few minutes turned it back on and doesn't work. He then said we forgot to scan the QR code with phone. After scanning, iphone prompts to add cellular line which is my existing # on esim, on iphone I went thru steps to assign the existing # on esim as primary. We tested messages back and forth and phone calls back and forth with my wife, then tested internet with wifi off. It all works. I am on esim!!!!

See photo below of the QR card I got and my non sim removed so I KNOW I am on esim with no nano sim card in my iphone slot since I placed it in the zip lock bag and my pheon still works!

5. I then asked him let me pop my wife's att nano sim card in my phone to see if my phone will let me use her ATT # (my phone is locked to ATT as not fully paid), I popped in her nano sim after turning my phone off and turned on and I got a prompt to add cellular plan. So it seems to let me add a new nano sim #. But Jose said don't go thru with it since if registered that nano sim will be "wedded" as secondary # on my phone and it will be cumbersome to reverse it so my wife will have her nano sim # back on her own iphone, so i cancelled at that point but it appears to let me add another line as secondary. Under my settings -->Cellular--> I now see "Cellular plans"-->P2 Primary "On" with my existing # and this is the esim slot. Under this section is "Used as "Primary" and it shows my wife's # which I never followed thru on so interesting it shows her number by popping in her sim card in my phone and it says "No SIM". I just called my wife's phone and she got the call so I guess I will not worry her number shows under my secondary and it'll go away once I register a permanent secondary for the physical nano sim.


here's a useful link:



here's a photo of my QR code card and physical nano sim out of phone to reassure me I AM operating on eSIM!!

IMG_4054.jpgQR card and nano sim is out of iphone for assurance I am using eSIM

Message 29 of 34

Re: activating eSIM on an existing ATT number

Now that my former physical nano sim # is on the esim I went to the ATT store today to see if I can buy another line to pop into my physical sim compartment to see if both #'s work on my phone including voicemail etc.

And it does!


See below pictures you will see signal status bars for 2 lines and under settings--cellurar you will see two lines one primary and one secondary and they both work. I am in Los Angeles, CA hence the 213 area codes.


Image-1 (1).jpgImage-1.jpg

Message 30 of 34
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