How to get Mexican TELCEL service on Unlocked Cellphone

This article instructs you how to get your unlocked cellphone working on the Mexican TELCEL mobile network. I had full 3G service most of the time in Mexico.

If you do not yet have a TELCEL Phone or TELCEL SIM card you need to go to an official TELCEL Centro to get one. The little tiendas selling phones everywhere cannot help you.

Here is the list of all the official centros, pick your state in Mexico and it will give you a list. You cannot get a new phone without going to the legit centro as apparently they have to run your passport nowadays (though it didnt really seem like they did much with mine)

Personally I had an ATT LG Thrive on ATT that was using in the states. I found an unlock code for sale on iChimp for about $7. Just google “Unlock code + Yourphonename” They emailed me an unlock code to enter once I received my TELCEL SIM and put it in the phone.

Go to the Official Centro and speak with the front desk clerk. Tell them you want to buy an Amigo (Pre-paid) SIM. They will give you a ticket and send you to another line. *DO NOT WAIT IN THE MAINLINE WITHOUT A TICKET* Ask me how I wasted 45 minutes of my day…

Once your ticket is called, tell the clerk you would like to purchase a Prepaid AMIGO SIM card. Most of the staff were confused at first since I had a U.S. ATT phone but I assured them that it would be OK, I just needed the SIM. Note: All this was taking place in my horrible spanish.

Give the clerk your passport and she will fill out some paperwork and print out a receipt. Take the reciept to the cashier counter and pay $150 pesos (the SIM includes $50 pesos of airtime). Take your new paperwork with proof of payment back to your original clerk. The clerk will run some more paperwork, retrieve a SIM, and write your number down for you.

Take the new TELCEL SIM and put it into your phone. Once your phone turns on it should say something like “CARRIER LOCK” and request your unlock code. Enter your code and proceed. My phone hooked up instantly the the TELCEL 3G network. Obviously if you purchased an “Amigo Kit” which includes a TELCEL phone or have an already unlocked phone you can skip this unlock step.

Ask the Clerk to activate your phone for you. This activation process all takes place in spanish and its better to leave it to the professionals. The clerk will verify your information over the phone and activation is complete. You will get your phone back and you are done! Almost…

Now since my phone was not an official TELCEL phone I had to manually go into it and setup the APN settings which I was able to track down on the internet.

Here they are for your information. Note this is for an Android phone, iPhones and blackberry will be different. You can find more settings for other phones here.

Press Main
Select Settings
Select Wireless and Networks
Select Mobile Networks
Select Access point Names
Delete all APN’s in this section.
Press Menu
Press New APN
Enter the follow settings one for General Data . The other for MMS

Name: MX – Telcel Web
Username: webgprs
Password: webgprs2002
MMS Proxy:
MMS Port:
MMS Protocol: WAP 2.0
Authentication Type: PAP
APN Type: default, supl

Name: MX – Telcel MMS
MMS Proxy:
MMS Port:
MMS Protocol: WAP 2.0
Authentication Type: PAP
APN Type: mms

Now that that is out of the way I was able to get the phone on the internet and was checking my emails and surfing natively on TELCEL 3G. The kicker is the plan was currently in “On-demand” data mode which absolutely rapes your phone. I think it is something like $30 pesos per meg which is nonsense.

You can change your data plan to a prixfixe model where you pay per hour, day, week, month etc by texting the phone number 5050 with which plan you want

  • ALTO1H (1 hour – 100mb) $12
  • ALTO1D (1 day – 150mb) $49
  • ALTO2D (2 day – 200mb) $79
  • ALTO7D (1gb) $199
  • ALTO15D (1.5gb) $299
  • ALTO30D (3gb) $499
  • Note: When your plan expires you automatically roll back to the “OnDemand” model which will quickly burn up your Amigo credit so be wary of when your plan is ending, they send you a text to remind you.

    OK, So you got your phone, internet, plan all setup and working. Now how the hell do you see how much time/credit you have left on your phone and how do you recharge it?

    Go to this website:

    On the bottom right you enter your 10-digit number to register and setup your password, it sends you a text to confirm it is you and now you can login to the “Mi TelCel” website.

    From here if you click on “Consulta tu Saldo” under Mi Cuenta on the right you can see your current Amigo credit balance.

    If you click on “Tiempo Aire con Cargo a Tarjeta” you can recharge your balance with a credit card.

    You can also modify your internet plan etc there.

    Now I personally also brought an 4596 3G Mobile Broadband Modem that I purchased off of Amazon before I left

    Using this Dongle I am able to take my SIM out of my phone, put it in the dongle and get 3G internet here in Mexico as long as I have cellphone signal.

    These are the APN settings required for the USB dongle
    Dial: *99#
    user: webgprs
    password: webgprs2002

    Note: TELCEL sells a prepacked Amigo dongle with everything all setup and ready to go for you if you don’t want to dick around with all this nerdy APN stuff. I believe it also comes with 3Gigs of data when you purchase it.

    Buen Suerte!

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  • jaime

    I just popped my telcel sim card in went to settings then mobile networks clicked preferred network and changed it from cdma mode to gsm/umts mode and it worked right away didnt have to change no apn settings…….of course i had to activate the sim but that was no biggy since im fluent in spanish and once im back in the states i change it back to cdma and it still works with my service provider i have a htc evo 4g design from boost

    • jackie

      So if I send a 4g my touch android to mexico and they puttheir sim card all they do is choose network theirs no need to unlock phone?

      • samantha gutierrez

        What company was the phone u sent to mx jackie? If u dont mind me asking

      • Alex


  • barbie

    do these settings also work for telcel america??

  • polo

    Awesome!!! Thanks for this guide

  • Mike Hodge

    There are new phones available now at for Telcel America service in the US.

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    • J F

      Yes – stop by a TelCel office (better than a retail dealer – as they can help if you have any issues such as adding the APN) and get the SIM activate & you are ready to rock

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  • Cactus Jack

    Mike, thanks for the info. I was using a Telcel Amigo USB Modem and wanted to switch to an AT & T unlocked Novatel 2372 MIFI. I was having a heck of a time until remembered your post. I took the data input info and inputed it on the AT & T mifi landing page in the internet properties section and the mifi lit up like a Roman Candle.It worked great the whole time in Rocky Point. I even watched US baseball live in streaming video with no hesitations or bulkyness at all. Thanks, again.

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  • jacquelinej

    How about if u already have a mexico sim card and u send an american cell phone do u just have to unlock it and have it connected to telcel in mexico???

    • Steve Brickman

      My experience is that once your SIM hasn’t been used in awhile (I think 30 days…) you have to buy a new one.

      • Omar

        Not really, the credit on the sim expires not the sim itself

  • Caleb Gayle

    Does Telcel have an unlimited data plan? if so how much?

    • Mert Erel

      They do have unlimited data plans for contracted phones… not prepaid.

  • Funman

    I have 2 telcel phones I have used recently in Puerto Vallarta Mexico. Will they work in Cancun? Do I have to change sim cards? There is minutes on these phones from telcel in Puerto Vallarta.

  • Judymc

    I am going back to USA for 3 weeks. My unlocked Verizon iPhone has a Telcel SIM card in it for here in Mexico. Get both phone and data on it just fine. Can I safely take it out when I reactivate my Verizon cell number (currently on suspend) so I am using Verizon? Reverse process when I come back to Mexico? Thanks so much for helping!

    • J F

      Yes – I do it all the time – switch bet Verizon & TelCel – iphone5

  • Fly Fried Freddy

    Confirmed configuration; found 1 parameter out; Authentication Type:PAP, and now it works, thank you.

  • J F

    Out of the credit on your account generally, but you can buy a “ficha” at the TelCel office and pay specifically for your data plan

  • Lizbetth Cordova

    Help! Im going to mexico for the weekend and I have a samsung galaxy note with net10 a company that runs with the towers of at&t i already have a mexican sims card once in mexico i tried to make my phone work but it asked me for like a network password??? is that what you buy on ebay? the unlock code?

    • Steve Brickman

      If you haven’t used your Mexican SIM in awhile you have to buy a new one.

  • sjfpvr

    Just returned from Puerto Vallarta on 12-12-13. I went to the Telcel store across from the Sheraton. Checked in with receptionist, then got in line for one of the agents who spoke some English. Requested an Amiga prepaid SIM, 30 day plan. Needed to show US driver’s license. A passport would also work. Agent completed paperwork that I took across the room to the cashier. Cashier sold me extra minutes to the standard 30 day plan, which I agreed to. Used credit card to pay. Took receipt back to agent and handed her my iPhone 5s. Agent took out my Verizon SIM (after confirming from me that my phone was unlocked). Agent then put a Telcel nano SIM (yes, nano!). in my iPhone and did all the activation. Left with cell phone service and a 3G data plan. I could call out immediately, but it took about an hour before others could call me. Later I took out the Telcel SIM and put it in a different iPhone 5. Worked fine. Once back in US, I put my Verizon SIM back in. Worked fine. Key points. If someone from a Mexico land line wants to call you, they have to add 044 to the front of the call, e.g. 044 322 xx xxx would ring me. If a call to me is made from a Mexican cell phone, then you just dial 322 xx xxx. I had a friend who spoke fluent Spanish with me, as this was my first go at this. I’m not sure I could pull it off by myself. You buy the SIM card for 150 pesos separately from the plan. My plan was $500 pesos, so the total was 650 pesos. At times the 3G was so slow that I thought something was wrong with my activation.

  • sjfpvr

    Forgot to add that I was told that after 30 days the Telcel SIM would not work, even if I added via a refill card from an OXXO or elsewhere before the 30 days expired. Essentially, I left with the understanding that I would need to buy a new 150 peso SIM card each 30 days to go with a new 30 day plan, assuming 30 days is what I wanted. There are posts on the net that say you can keep your number associated with your SIM active if you refill at regular intervals after the 30 day period. I just don’t know. There are good instructions on the rethink ! blog for the Telcel experience in Puerto Vallarta.

  • Vincent

    I got my SIM from before leaving, I probably paid a little extra but it was definitely worth it so I didn’t have to look for a Telcel store then buy and activate the SIM.

  • Guest

    I bought my Telcel SIM from and received it before leaving for Mexico. I only needed to pop it in when I arrived in Mexico, so no need to find a store and wait for activation. Highly recommended.

  • Ron

    Have a Blackberry curve 9930, I took it to Telcel to see if it can be made to send texts to Telcel Amigo cell numbers. They cannot fix it. I can send texts to CDN cell phones but I cannot receive them with my Telcel sim, Have moved my sim card to another phone in Mexico and it sends and receives texts. My blackberry just does not send or receive texts to Mexican cell sim numbers. Just looking for a good answer.

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  • worldwideadven1

    A huge thank you for this in depth article on getting a sim in Mexico. Today I did exactly as you said and within 20 minutes Telcel had me hooked up and activated without a word of Spanish from me! Awesome – you rock! PS the same thing in the US took 4 days to get working!

  • markk

    I tried using a Telcel SIM with my Samsung Galaxy Note II and it did not work, so I ended up getting their cheapest model to make emergency calls. Everybody at Telcel said my phone had to be reformatted for Telcel. I wasted hours when I could have been sightseeing.

    • Mert Erel

      It depends on what carrier you have. If you have Verizon, then they are cool and it’s already unlocked. If you have Tmobile or ATT, they hate you and have their phones locked. Greedy corporations. When you get back to the USA, switch to Verizon.

      • Ed

        False. ATT unlocked my iPhone 6+ no questions asked. And T-mobile does the same (and is contract-free). I was only 3 months into a 2 year contract with ATT and they unlocked mine. Switching my TELCEL sim card is a breeze. Do you work for Verizon? I don’t know why any International travelers would want a CDMA phone or provider.

        • Mert Erel

          General Eligibility Requirements for unlocking an AT&T mobile device
          Devices may qualify for unlocking if they meet the following requirements:
          The device must be designed for use on, and locked to, the AT&T wireless network. For help see Device Unlock Support.
          It must not be reported lost or stolen.
          It’s not associated with fraudulent activity.
          All the device’s service commitments and installment plans are completed, and all early termination fees are paid in full.
          The device is not currently active on a different AT&T customer’s account.
          If you performed an early upgrade, you must wait the 14-day buyer’s remorse period before you can request to unlock your previous device.

          Before insulting people, check out the facts. I think you are full of shit or you didnt realize you paid full price.

          GSM is outdated technology. Enjoy your 90’s technology.

          I guess travelers going to Japan would argue with you.

          • Ed

            I didn’t insult you or use profanity. You did. Those eligibility requirements are outdated as is CDMA. GSM is also outdated., but is used in the countries I visit. It will all become LTE anyway. I understand brand loyalty, but your post was incorrect. I did not pay full price. I simply asked them to unlock it using the link on their website. The next day, I received an e-mail stating my phone was unlocked. I have used it in Mexico with a Telcel Sim several times since then.

            • Mert Erel

              Consider yourself lucky. I stated AT&T’s policy right there and the link associated with it. It’s not the normal rule since your “Device service commitment” was not completed. Did you do an “Upgrade” and was on the service “Month to Month” after completing the original contract?

              By the way, I no longer use Verizon service but still believe that CDMA is a better technology anyday. The cost of upgrading GSM to CDMA is too much for most companies to handle. If you google Japanese phones, they are WAY crazy compared to ours. That is because they use SCDMA (Super CDMA) which is just plain crazy. I haven’t checked the CDMA version of the Galaxy S5 or S6 but I think any CDMA world phone has GSM built in it.

              Mexico’s company that bought Verizon’s CDMA network may actually be a big player in Mexico when traffic concerns arise.

              Verizon can basically grab all of ATT and Tmobile customers and still have great capacity and data performance. If all Verizon customers were to go ATT, their network would just simply not be able to handle it. With the technology advancing like it, the demand for network and bandwidth capacity is going to be amazing.

              I have T-Mobile which doesn’t get nearly as good coverage as Verizon and the data speeds are a bit slower. My phone is unlocked but what’s great about T-Mobile is that my data plan follows me into Mexico with no extra charge and my home country of Turkey. Problem solved. No need to switch SIM cards.

              Telcel is horrible because you have no idea why they taking money. There is no explanation or any paper trail. You can’t really argue with them on a prepaid contract. I assume they act differently towards their “contract” customers.

              I like the fact that with T-mobile, no data roaming and .20/min for all calls in Mexico. I like the simplicity.

              If I pay a little extra per month, a long list of countries I can call to for free. I also like the Wi-Fi calling feature which is great when I’m in an area of Mexico without out a strong cell phone signal but a very strong Wi-Fi signal.

  • Mert Erel

    This is a great tutorial. I found out that Verizon’s Galaxy S3 is a world phone that comes unlocked already. All of Verizon’s global phones are unlocked (unlike ATT which demands I pay up my past due bill and refuses to unlock it for me) and all I have to do is put in the APN settings WHILE I have the telcel chip in.

    Also, Verizon phones in “global mode” automatically connect to the IUSACELL network (the only CDMA network in Mexico) but they are not very good but have 4g Data. Their reception sucks. Also, incoming caller ID’s will not show. (I have the Verizon Mexico plan that includes 1000 minutes in Mexico when you add it for $15 per month on any plan). I recommend to switch the global phone to GSM only and do a manual search for TELCEL. If you are using the Verizon SIM CARD CHIP in your phone, I recommend doing this.

    I am about to visit the TELCEL store to make sure this is the current settings for the APN since things do change frequently in the Cell Phone world.

    My next step is to see IUSACELL to see if they have a unlimited data day plan since they have 4g and it’s CDMA. If so, I will get a prepaid chip from them so I can get 4g speeds while I’m in Mexico. Once again, their coverage is not good so it pays to have both chips just in case!

    If you have a Verizon smartphone, it smart to have not only the Mexico plan activated on your USA plan by adding the Mexico plan for $15 on top of your contracted USA plan but also have a TelCel chip to avoid paying $5/mb roaming on the Verizon chip but also have the IUSACELL chip too. The speed for IUSACELL will be much faster if you can grab on their scarce 4g signal.

    • LisAguilera

      So unlocked Verizon phones DO work in Mexico!? I want to buy a nice cheap phone. I have At&t in the U.S and I would prefer to keep the same carrier. I might just wait till my upgrade and switch my current phone to TELCEL SIM card when I visit there.

      • Alex

        All phones with a SIM card are now unlocked. Verizon told me this last week

      • Mert Erel

        Yes. AT&T will unlock your phone so you can switch SIM cards as long as you follow the requirements.

      • Mert Erel

        The Verizon phone will work for SURE on LUSACELL but make sure it’s a “World Phone” which is “GSM-Enabled” phone if you want to use any other carrier.

      • rosa

        i use my VERIZON iPhone 5s phone in mexico. i just change the chip (telcel)

  • Fred

    On telcel how do you track where a person in Mexico is

    • Mert Erel

      It’s called “Triangulation” that can be performed by the cell phone service provider. It gives a pretty precise location down to something like 200 meters x 200 meters. You measure the signal strength and compare the length from the three towers you do this from to pinpoint a “location”.

  • LisAguilera

    What U.S carriers for unlocked cell phones work in Mexico? I read in a different blog that ONLY At&t and T-Mobile (with GSM network compatability) work but an employee at Best Buy told me any phone with “quad-core” will work internationally (I found a Verizon phone with “quad-core” also). Any suggestions?

    • Alex

      President Obama has made all phones unlocked now. So just take any newer phone and put in a telcel chip and it should work

    • rosa

      i use my verizon iPhone 5s in mexico. all i did was get a telcel sim card and put it on my phone when ever i visit. ( oh but i have tell a family member to add about 20 pesos every so often so that when i go back the next yr i don’t have to purchase another sim card with a another new number)

  • Alan

    This is great info, I plan to take advantage of it on my next visit to Chiapas.

  • will

    Great article! I did exactly as you lay out here. My cell phone works, as does my data. However, my texting does not…

    I notice I do not have an entry to modify for “MMS Protocol:” Neither in the data APN nor the MMS APN. Any advice?

  • king bonks

    what do i put if the mms protocol dont come up on the phone-

  • kellly

    somebody help me out with an iphone 5s! im visiting in december and plan on staying there for a while so im for sure gonna be in need of a phone…

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  • Kyosuke

    do you know what the bearer is? on my APN editing, I saw a section called bearer? what do you put in their? It says LTE, eHRPD, and Unspecified

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  • Michelle Garza

    Do I have to buy an unlock code if I went through AT&T to unlock my phone?

    • Mert Erel

      No. If your phone has already been unlocked by AT&T, you do not have to unlock your phone. You can just pop any SIM card chip in the phone and you should be set to go.

  • vicky

    in some countries that i have been to they have a booth at the airport to connect your phone. Does anyone know if this is availble at the airport in Cancun?

    • Mert Erel

      Connect your phone to what? A usb port? A charger?

      • vicky

        Better word would be activate instead of connect

  • Joe Mendez Jr.

    HELP! I am not an expert and need help. I want to buy an inexpensive phone in the United States that will work in Mexico with the Telcel carrier. What specifications should I be looking at in order to secure a 100% fully functional phone in Mexico?

    • Mark Williams

      I think you have to have a GSM phone to work in Mexico. The CDMA phones won’t work. So when you are shopping on eBay type in “GSM phone”. Almost all the newer phones will work, that have 4G capability.

  • Angel DuArte

    Does telcel have a plan that will work in the U.s

  • Andres RamoS

    Hello, Im looking for guideness, my contract with telcel is over, and I will start it again soon, but, the phones they sale are just as expensive than the US ones, but, in oldest models, Any way, the same phone that I want from telcel is already on ebay used for a lowest cost, and already unlocked, I know how to put in the APN´s on it and everything, thats not a problem, but, Im in constant traverling betwen Mexico en USA, and Im afraid (coz already see it in other people) that just crossing the border to the US my chip telcel is useless, it doesnt work the roaming on it, I have a Tmobile phone to use in USA and a TELCEL (original phone) to use in Mexico, coz a untill a few months ago the roaming cost was very high, but now TELCEL have new plans that allow us to use the same minutes and data in USA as in Mexico for the same cost, I need to be conected whit Mexico not just via Tmobile in my US phone, but also en my TELCEL SIM card, but I dont know how to make it work with a US phone in USA with my TELCEL SIM CARD.

    Do you have an idea.

    Best Regards

    (Sorry if I spell any word wrong)

  • Andrew Alexander

    Have Sony gsm quad unlocked – will it work in Mexico?

  • andrew

    i have a telcel chip and an unlocked phone can i read my telcel contacts while im in the U.S? or do i need to be in the Mexican network?

  • Michael Morgan

    This is very interesting–and very helpful. I live in PERU, actually, but I’m relocating to Guanajuato soon–for six months.
    I have a newish, Lenovo A606, which I purchased here in Peru. It works like a champ in Peru, of course, and in Chile. I just swap chips and go. Of course, in both countries I’m on Claro.
    I’m really hoping that I can just put a new chip in my current phone when I hit Mexico City, since both countries run on GSM.
    THANK YOU for posting! I’m somewhat familiar with the bureaucracies that we encounter in countries like Peru, Chile, and Mexico. I hope that gives me a leg up. LOL (10 digit phone number, eh?!? Wow.)
    Cajamarca, Peru

  • William Vandiver

    Everything seemed to work when I entered the settings for General Data but when I tried to do the same for MMS it wouldn’t save the information…

  • Efren Rosales

    Can I use an iPhone 5s with straight talk settings with Telcel in Mexico?

  • Marianne F

    HI, just arrived in Mexico and as I do not use a smartphone went to see if my EU-based dumbphone would carry a Telcel simcard. No. So bought a simple enough azumi phone with simcard installed by a friendly Telcel dealer. Took a while and some registration was completed there but it appears that even though I can now send texts to contacts with international (EU Mostly) numbers am not receiving their answers. Do I really need to register online?Am only here a week. Or is there something that needs changing the settings on this phone? Wasn’t that expensive but did cose and now is taking up time.
    Thanks for the help as this page was very helpful.

  • Jenny

    I have a samsung 5 from verizon unlocked with a new activated telcel sim. I could not figure out why my network was disconnected until now. I was about to take my phone to a hacker and would of gotten ripped off. Thankful for smart ass people, like you !! :D

  • Celeste

    What if the phone doesnt make calls to a mexico cell phone or doesnt receive them?

  • Daniel Noriega

    Best tutorial ever!!!

  • joana

    how would i be able to send text i can make the calls an get texts but not send them

  • Jorge Domingo

    i have a unlocked AT&T phone can i use it in mexico with tercel

  • Lara

    I get everything to work on my unlocked Verizon Samsung S6 plus EXCEPT Voicemail. Help!??!!

  • Lara

    I have a Verizon unlocked Samsung S6 plus. Everything works EXCEPT VOICEMAIL. HELP!!??

  • Jay Onrails

    Funny, all I did is buy a sim at a little Telcel shack in the middle of the Baja peninsula for 35.00 mxn (19.77 mxn for USD)
    A little town called Camalu. These sims need to be inserted into an “unlocked” phone. Then you purchase either a “plan” from Telcel or “minutes”.
    If you purchase minutes then you have so much data and so much minutes. Data and minutes roll over to the next month. Every 30 days you need to purchase more time or else your phone is unable to make Mexico calls.

  • Bill

    What is telcel error code 0035? Does anyone know. That is what I get on my phone with unlocked and paid up telcel SIM card

  • jian

    i want to unlock my sim card its a telcel can some one help this mexican

  • Miguel

    Hasent been used 6645890021

  • Miguel

    My number can’t be used 664 589 0021

  • Miguel

    My number can’t be used how to unlock

  • Miguel

    My number is from Mexico