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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 56

Re: activating eSIM on an existing ATT number

That is true, you must have a line of service inorder for the esim to activate.  Either an old line on the account or a new line of service. You will have to have two separate numbers, one for sim card activate withimei #1, the esim activated with imei #2.  Also if you're wanting to use device with another carrier, device must be unlocked..  More info from apple as well https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT209044

Message 2 of 56

Re: activating eSIM on an existing ATT number

Thank you for your reply! The thing is I DO have an existing line with ATT already and I'm using that number on the iPhone in question. My iPhone is an unlocked version. when I asked the ATT store to activate my existing number on the eSim thats when they told me that its NOT possible and that the only way I can activate that eSim is to activate a whole new number on it.   

Message 3 of 56

Re: activating eSIM on an existing ATT number

I’d like to find out the answer too.  The question is how to transfer your line and existing physical SIM to the eSIM, so you can have the SIM tray empty for other carriers, not adding a second line.

Message 4 of 56

Re: activating eSIM on an existing ATT number

I just did this. Call ATT customer service and have them send you a QR code. When you get it, remove your existing sim and scan the new one. Call ATT Customer Service and they’ll have you read the long numeric IMEI printed on the card w/ the QR. They can then transfer the number. So far, the dual sim w/ esim works pretty well. Only hang up I am having is with visual voicemail. I only seem to be able to access VM on my primary number. My business line (which is my secondary line) I likely have to call in to VM all old school like, which to be honest I would rather have VM for that line vs my primary line. Hopefully another update through Apple fixes this. I’m on iOS 12.1.1. My primary number is on the eSim and my business line is an ATT prepaid voice and data plan on the physical nano sim so when I travel overseas I can simply give that sim to my business partner to put in an old backup iPhone 6 we have and I can purchase a sim where I am traveling to use data. My iPhone isn’t unlocked though, so I’m not sure if ATT will let the phone utilize a sim from another carrier quite yet. I usually just pay for the pass when traveling and try to use WiFi for the most part.

Message 5 of 56

Re: activating eSIM on an existing ATT number

So, update!!! Just went to the AT&T store and asked for the most knowledgeable rep and knowledgeable and willing rep I did get!!!


Here is what you have to do.... 


AT&T stores have now received shipments of new eSims (looks just like a normal SIM card holder however instead of a sim it has a QR code on it)

You would go to your phones settings and click: cellular > add cellular plan> scan the QR code (you'll get prompted) now select which line you want to use for what Priority (secondary vs primary)

Next, he took the SIM card number off the QR code card and entered it into his system on his computer/ipad along with finding the digital IMEI (phone serial) in the phone setting.....

Once the eSIM number off the QR code card and the IMEI are in the their system.... BOOM!!!! ACTIVATED with no physical sim!!!


I have the unlocked iPhone XS and I can confirm you CAN put your existing number on your primary line and keep the SIM card tray EMPTY or with a different number sim simultaneously


DO not fall for the "we need to add a line" nonsense.....


I used to work for AT&T thats is why I was so positive that the first answer I was given is incorrect. Stubbornness and thinking outside the box (based on my knowledge) for the WIN!!!!


Hope this helps!  


Message 6 of 56

Re: activating eSIM on an existing ATT number

I was told same today, that they can’t activate eSIM on my existing AT&T line, they said they have to add another number... it’s a scam, i had to remove the new number before I left... the was ATT store  E Colonial Dr. Orlando, FL 32803.... horrible experience... would stay away from that store.
I will try different store or company tomorrow.


[Edited to comply with Guidelines]



Message 7 of 56

Re: activating eSIM on an existing ATT number

That’s very unfortunate, those guys are under so much pressure to add lines to meet their sales goals that they forget to tell the truth!!!  Most of the people at AT&T that know anything know that it doesn’t make any sense what they are telling people, but they just have no choice. Do go to another store,  and if you get any pushback, just ask them to get you the eSim card with the QR code on it, and just leave and activate it over the phone with customer care, as far as I saw it activated just like a regular sim in their system. Let us know if you need anymore help! I can confirm that I am using 2 different numbers in my phone and the main one I’ve had for over 10 years IS an eSim

Message 8 of 56

Re: activating eSIM on an existing ATT number

Terrible experience today in Philadelphia...

I visited 3 AT&T stores for an eSim for a new iPhone XR (the reason why I bought this phone is because I need to have a dual sim phone as I'm traveling a lot abroad...)

First store: we don't have eSim, sold out.

Second store: the system is not working, go somewhere else, anyway we can make a good offer on a new wifi plan (?!?)

Third store: we have the eSim (finally) but you need to add a new line, this is the only way to have the eSim.


I have no words, I was almost going back to Apple to give back my new telephone and trade it with a iPhone 8... thanks to you guys seems that is possible to transfer an existing number/line to the eSim, thats what I need.

Message 9 of 56

Re: activating eSIM on an existing ATT number

 Yeah man that really stinks that you’re having this experience!! But yes it is definitely possible!!! My thinking in this situation would be to ask anyone you know that’s willing to visit their local att store for you to get that stupid eSim....  because all you really need is for somebody to send you a picture of that QR code for you to scan with your phone that’s how that SIM card number becomes embedded into your phone!  Then just simply call AT&T and tell them to change the IMEI number on your account to the digital IMEI or even visit one of those 3 useless stores to get help once you get that QR code.  Don’t give up yet, success is near!!!

Message 10 of 56
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