What Is ICCID Number and Why Is It Important for Your SIM Card?

Cellular Network

There are many codes that are included within a tiny SIM card, and one of them is the ICCID number. This code is vital not just for your carrier but also for you. An ICCID is not just some sort of technical gibberish that only tech experts should know, for this can be your saving grace if ever you encounter glitches with your network.

In this article, we’ll discuss what exactly an ICCID number is and its significance on your basic telephony services.

 

What Is an ICCID Number?

sim card with sim tray
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

The Integrated Circuit Card ID, or more commonly known as ICCID, is the 18 to 22-digit code that is printed on the back of your SIM. It can also be found on the plastic card where your SIM card is attached. Every ICCID number is unique and serves as an identifier of your SIM card. This set of digits is important for mobile networks operator since this will be their basis on which network they will connect a mobile device to.

After you have purchased and installed a SIM card on your phone, your phone will send a unique “identification code” to your network. The network will then attempt to identify if the ICCID is unique and has not been used yet by other users. Only when the network has verified its uniqueness that will be able to use your SIM card at your behest.

Some people confuse ICCID with IMEI. If you are trying to diagnose a network problem with your phone, then you might need to find your IMEI number first before your ICCID. The ICCID is completely different from IMEI, which we will tackle later. The IMEI is also important as the ICCID, so you should know what an IMEI number is and why is it important for your phone.

 

How to Find Your ICCID

If you have thrown out the plastic card where your SIM was initially placed, there are still ways on how to figure out your ICCID. You don’t need to eject and reinsert your SIM card just to see your ICCID. You also cannot simply eject embedded SIMs (eSIM) just to figure out your SIM’s ICCID.

apple iccid
Screengrab from Apple

Follow this procedure for iOS devices to see your ICCID:

  1. Go to “Settings,” then tap on “General.”
  2. Tap on “About.” Scroll down until you see under your carrier information the ICCID of your SIM card.

You can also check your ICCID on your Android devices. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Go to “Settings,” then find “About phone” or “About device” depending on your device.
  2. Tap on “Status” or “Phone status.”
  3. From there, scroll down until you see under the carrier information your SIM’s ICCID.

If you don’t see an ICCID after searching it on the “Phone status,” there is an app called “SIM Serial Number (ICCID)” available on the Play Store. This will help you identify the ICCID of your SIM card.

Download SIM Serial Identifier for Android

 

Why Is ICCID Important?

The ICCID can look confusing. As a result, we may just pass by these digits as we use our SIM cards. We might not even pay close attention to it. But this can hold significance especially if you stumble upon problems with your network.

What are some of the reasons why the ICCID is important? These are some tidbits of facts that you should know about ICCID:

 

Customer Service Support

Ever wonder how your network handles tons of mobile network issues? The secret to this is your ICCID. This ICCID helps your network distinguish between loads of issues they handle on their network. In case you have submitted a ticket to their customer service department, the ICCID is a unique identifier in which the network can help you diagnose any problems on your line.

 

SIM Activation and Cancellation

sim card with phone
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Another significance of the ICCID is when you intend to activate your newly purchased SIM card. As already mentioned in the definition, the ICCID serves as a unique identifier for your SIM card; thus, the ICCID is needed whenever you are activating a new SIM. This same principle is applicable when you are canceling your subscription with your network. You may be asked for your ICCID when you are firm on canceling your subscription with your current carrier.

 

Viewing a Specific SIM Card

If you own a dual-SIM phone, the ICCID can help you differentiate between the two SIMS you have installed on your phone. Switching between carriers is done by ICCID. So if you want to view a specific SIM card, the ICCID can help you distinguish between these two SIM cards.

 

Roaming Activation

When you are out of your home country and want to access the internet, you can do this by data roaming. But what is the role of your SIM’s ICCID here? When your carrier doesn’t cover the area where you are right now, say, in another country, the ICCID connects with another partner network in the said country. This process by your network will enable you to use your internet services without a hitch. Just make sure you have coordinated with your carrier first before enabling data roaming services on your phone.

 

Meaning of Each Digit on ICCID

The ICCID may look like a mix of nonsense numbers and letters. But every digit in an ICCID holds significant importance. It is because these digits indicate the identification of any SIM card.

Now, we’ll dissect the meanings of each digit on an ICCID. An ICCID usually consists of 18 to 20 digits. It should look like this:

iccid sample
Screengrab from Apple

Each group of numbers represents a code. Here are the meanings of each code in the example above.

89 Industry code representing telecommunications provider
63 Regional code (this can be a one to three-digit code assigned by the International Trade Union)
0318 Mobile network code (MNC)
801206075602 A unique set of identifiers for the SIM card. This is also known as “Account ID” or “SIM card number.”
0 Checksum number computed using Luhn algorithm.

 

As already discussed above, you may need to present your ICCID with your network. This code is for verification purposes, so better have this in handy if you ever need to consult with your network or cancel your subscription with them.

 

ICCID vs ISMI vs IMEI

imei example
Photo from imei.info

There are many codes that networks use for smooth communication. This can be confusing especially if you have problems with your network. There are codes like ISMI and IMEI that are also used by networks. These codes aim to create a distinct identity that will be stored by your network.

Now, let us know: what are the distinctions between ICCID, IMSI, and IMEI?

 

ICCID

Again, an ICCID or “Integrated Circuit Card Identification” serves as a SIM card identifier. The ICCID is distinct in itself in the sense that it helps networks activate your SIM card. It also helps you in creating a roaming profile whenever your network does not cover your area.

 

IMSI

Meanwhile, the International Mobile Security Identity or “IMSI” represents your SIM card’s identification number. They may seem to be the same as the ICCID, but this code serves a different function. This code lets you know what networks you can access within your area. The IMSI also serves as a unique identifier for the subscribers but is different from a mobile number. A mobile number usually consists of 10 to 12 digits and your mobile number is used for texting and calling a particular subscriber. Whereas, an IMSI contains 15 digits.

An IMSI is divided into three parts: the first three digits represent the country code; the next three digits are the MNC, while the rest of the digits are the set of unique numbers that cannot be duplicated by other users. Just like the ICCID, the IMSI is also stored on the SIM card.

 

IMEI

Lastly, the International Mobile Station Equipment Identity (IMEI) represents a radio device; i.e., your SIM module inside your phone. This is unique for every SIM module on your phone. It means that a dual-SIM phone must contain two IMEIs in them. Unlike the IMSI and ICCID, the IMEI is contained on your phone. Like the ICCID, the IMEI is important for communication, for this can be tampered with by hackers that can potentially tap on your communication lines.

 

What Are Their Differences

iccid sim card
Photo from Qynamic

The difference between ICCID, IMSI, and IMEI is pretty distinguishable. Firstly, both the ICCID and IMSI can be seen on your SIM card. Meanwhile, the IMEI can only be seen on the phone. Another distinction is in its purpose. The ICCID serves as a SIM card identifier, thus cannot be altered in any way. The same goes with IMEI. One cannot simply altercate the IMEI of any phone unless you want to be legally charged. Meanwhile, the IMSI can be changed since a SIM card can be registered to any subscribers.

 

Final Word

The ICCID is something that we usually ignore. You may simply just pass by these numbers for this can be too technical that only tech experts should be tackling this code. However, the ICCID is vital for communicating with other mobile subscribers. This seemingly complicated code can help networks in diagnosing network problems. This code cannot just be simply ignored for its importance. So, the next time you encounter glitches within your network, remember that your ICCID may just save the day.

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