Do you want to switch from a SIM card language you don’t understand? This is common when ordering a SIM card online and purchasing one in a retail store or at the airport in a new country. In most cases, the carrier assumes that most people speak an official language of the country or a more common one if there are multiple. Additionally, errors happen all the time, and an update or a wrong USSD code, SMS, or IVR (Interactive Voice Response) may make the options unintelligible. To help you, we will show you how to change the SIM card language.
Can you switch the SIM card language?
Yes, you can switch the SIM card’s spoken and written language in most cases, but the method depends on the carrier. Users must research available options, ideally through the official website, mobile app, a store visit, or a Customer Care conversation.
We will list some frequent options. Some mobile network providers let users send SMSes, dial USSD codes or call an IVR. Others ask their customers to open a SIM toolkit and visit their website or use a mobile application to trigger a language change.
Very few providers, especially MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) that deal with the local population in one language, don’t have such an option. They may implement or administer the change individually to customers who users to request it in person or via a phone call.
Will changing the phone language affect my SIM language settings?
No, changing the language of your phone or tablet will only adjust the language of the menus, home screen items, home menu icons, boot screen, recovery mode, and the applications that are translated to the active language. However, the SIM card provider may tie its language settings to those on your device, making method 7 essential.
1. Use a USSD code to change your SIM card language
A common method to change the language of your SIM card involves USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) codes. You can research the specifics on your carrier’s official website or browse through the options.
Changing the language of your SIM card via USSD codes works like this:
- Dial the USSD code for your carrier’s settings. This can be a number, a mix of numbers and symbols, or a mix of numbers, symbols, and letters.
- For example, T-Mobile, the biggest carrier, lets you dial 611 to get the self-service menu. You would then be presented with options to see your account balance, switch billing format, change address, make a bill copy, and so on.
- Look for a language option and enter the numbers in front of the options to navigate the USSD system. If the language settings are missing, look through menus such as Launch Options, Profile, and User/Customer Settings.
- Choose the language by entering the number in front of the correct option.
- If prompted to confirm your phone number or identity, do so.
- Restart the device if needed, then open any USSD menu or the SIM card toolkit to confirm the change took place.
2. Make a language switch on SIM cards using SMS
Many carriers let users request an informational SMS free of charge, and language setup may be there. Others provide a list of numbers customers can message and the SMS contents on their website or within the mobile app.
Let’s demonstrate the procedure of language switching on an STC (Saudi Telecommunication Company) SIM card as an example:
- Send any message to 900 to get an automatic response from the STC private assistant. You will receive an SMS response with an automatic message and a list of important codes under 900.
- Enter the one for language change (1390). Some options may be in a different language like in this case, so you may have to utilize a translation service.
- You will receive a response stating “Thanks. We’ve changed your number’s language to English.” if you changed from Arabic to English. Restart your phone and repeat step 1 to see if all options are now in English.
Sometimes you have to enter a word, such as MTN users who must send LANG <language> to 2020, e.g., LANG English to 2020, to switch their default language.
3. Dial IVR to adjust your SIM language
Carriers such as T-Mobile have an IVR service that users can access in the same way as USSD codes. Only instead of written, the options are spoken in the default language of the SIM card.
For example, calling *121# on an Airtel SIM card provides access to a 24/7 Airtel Service Center with nearly all SIM-related options. Say the word ‘language’ in Hindi or English, and the service should present an option to switch from one to the other.
4. Check your SIM card toolkit for a language change option
SIM toolkit grants access to crucial options related to a GSM SIM card, so you can check its vocabulary options. However, each SIM card provider can design its appearance and functionality, hence we can’t provide reliable instructions.
As a central location with commands for many SIM-related functions, it should have the option to adjust the language, under Extras, Tools, Options, Profile, Customer Information, or a similar menu.
5. Download a mobile application to begin switching SIM cards languages
An increasing number of SIM card providers have Android and iOS mobile applications to help their users manage their accounts. Thus, you may be able to switch languages by downloading a mobile app, which is the case with STC:
- Install and open the app and sign in or register.
- Tap the three horizontal lines in the bottom right corner.
- Select the Settings menu option.
- Go to Number properties.
- Tap the Contact language option.
- Select Arabic or English.
- You’ll receive a success pop-up message. Tap OK to confirm.
What should I do if my carrier lacks a mobile app or language setting?
If your carrier doesn’t have an app or lacks the option, try installing SIM Manager or SIM Toolkit applications from Google Play Store or Apple App Store. If compatible with your SIM card, it will let you modify its language settings.
6. Use a SIM card reader to change the language
Advanced users may remove their SIM card (unless it’s an embedded SIM) and utilize a SIM card reader/writer device to open it using their Windows or Mac computer.
They can use any SIM card reader and writer software to access their SIM card information. For instance, the Dekart SIM Manager software (no affiliation) has an Info tab on the left that should contain language settings users can tweak.
7. Change active language settings on Android or iOS devices
Finally, we speculated whether the SIM card’s language settings could be tied to the mobile’s active language, especially if the carrier doesn’t offer any options.
Switching Android device language
To change the device language on Android 12, do this:
- Open Settings.
- Go to Languages & Input. It may be inside System or Personal.
- Tap Languages, then Add a language or drag the existing language to the top.
- Check if the SIM menu language changed after dialing a USSD code.
Changing the language on iPhone and iPad
For iOS 16 devices, language change works this way:
- Go to Settings → General.
- Choose Language.
- Tap the current language to change it or select Add Language…
- Select Use <language you chose> to confirm.
- Dial the SIM menu number your carrier assigned to examine language changes.