You have got a used iPhone that you can’t setup.
When you try to it asks for the email address and password of the original owner – which you don’t have or don’t know.
Now you are stuck.
You may have tried looking at a few YouTube video’s.
Or a selection of webpages that you found on Google that claim to tell you how to remove iCloud lock from iPhone.
But none of them seem to be trustworthy. Either that or you tried what they suggested and it didn’t work.
You are unsure what to do now and want some clear yet simple advice on how to unlock the iCloud lock.
You are in luck.
There are a few things you can try to get your iPhone unlocked. Best of all they are all free.
Follow the steps below in the order listed to get the iCloud lock removed for free.
Free iCloud lock removal
Step 1: Is your iPhone stolen goods?
For some reason they have not removed it.
This is quite common when buying used devices on eBay or Craigslist.
There is only 2 reasons why iCloud locks are not removed:
- The original owner forgot, or was unaware they had to do so
- You have bought a stolen device so the owner didn’t have the opportunity to remove it
Before you begin you need to find out which reason applies to your iPhone.
You can check for stolen devices by using the Stolen Phone Checker website.
This is a free website that lets U.S. consumers check the status of any iPhone by using its IMEI number.
If you are elsewhere in the world you should use IMEI.info instead.
IMEI.info works for the UK – and claims to work for 880 mobile networks from over 230 countries. So it should be suitable for visitors from almost anywhere in the world.
How to find your IMEI on your locked iPhone 
On these devices, you’ll find the IMEI on the SIM tray.
- iPhone XS
- iPhone XS Max
- iPhone X
- iPhone 8
- iPhone 8 Plus
- iPhone 7
- iPhone 7 Plus
- iPhone 6s
- iPhone 6s Plus
- iPhone 3G
- iPhone 3GS
- iPhone 4 (GSM model)
- iPhone 4s
On these devices, you’ll find the IMEI on the back.
- iPhone 6
- iPhone 6 Plus
- iPhone SE
- iPhone 5s
- iPhone 5c
- iPhone 5
Step 2: Ask the seller to remove the activation lock
Get in touch with the seller and ask them to unlock the iCloud lock on the iPhone.
If they have forgotten to do this before selling it this request shouldn’t cause a problem. 
You don’t need to worry about returning the iPhone for them to unlock it. They can do it on the iCloud website without your phone.
So if you bought a device from a seller located on the other side of the country it isn’t a problem.
To make life easier I have created an email template you can use to send to the seller.
It explains the problem and tells them what they need to do to fix it.
Free email template
Click here to create an email ready to send to the seller. It re-directs them to an article on this website that explains what they need to do.
Simply add their email address.
When the seller unlocks the iCloud account your device will be free to setup as your own. It won’t ask for the previous owners Apple ID or password again.
If the seller refuses to help or doesn’t get back to you try the next step…
Step 3: Ask Apple to remove the iCloud lock for you
If you have a local Apple Store then you can visit them and request they unlock it.
They will unlock it under some circumstances.
You will need proof of ownership such as the original receipt.
You will also need to prove that ownership has transferred from the original owner to you. For example show a print out of the eBay transaction and the payment confirmations.
Apple may also help if the original owner has passed away and you want to gain access to the device.
They will check if it is a stolen iPhone first. If they see that it has been stolen they will not help you.
They will also refuse to help you if you can’t prove beyond any doubt that it’s your iPhone. Apple needs to be 100% sure you are the rightful owner and if they have the slightest doubt they are not allowed to help.
If you have tried to get Apple to unlock it and failed move on to the next step…
Step 4: Bypass iCloud instead of unlocking
You might not know this but you can do an iCloud DNS bypass on any iPhone to get some functionality.
You can bypass the lock so you can use your device to some things such as:
- Watch video
- Use social media
- Send SMS
This is a temporary ‘work around’ so you need to set it up again after each time you reboot your phone. This may not be too much of an issue as I rarely reboot my iPhone.
The biggest limitation is that you can only use your iPhone via Wi-Fi.
Also, you can’t do some basic things such as:
- Make calls
- Download Apple Apps
If you are desperate having tried all the previous steps then it may be a suitable option for you.
Benefits and drawbacks of doing an iCloud bypass
I’d prefer to be able to use my iPhone properly without any restrictions – so this would only be a last resort for me.
Feel free to try out the iCloud DNS bypass yourself and see what you think.
If this isn’t suitable read on to find out what to do now…
None of these solutions are suitable – what now?
You are not quite out of options…
…find out what you should do next if nothing has worked for you so far (this opens a new article with more things to try).
I’m sure the temptation is to try one of the companies that offer free iCloud unlocking services.
You may believe you have nothing to lose…
…but you do.
Viruses, Trojan horses and pop ups are some of the hellish things you can expect from these free services.
Click this link to find out more about these free services and why to avoid them.
Did you find this helpful?
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 Apple support article: Find the serial number or IMEI on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch
 Apple support article: What to do before you sell, give away, or trade in your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch