With FaceTime you can make free video or audio calls to anyone who owns an iPhone, iPad or Mac. You can talk to each other for free over your WiFi internet connection (you can also use a cellular connection but because this could eat into your free data allowance our advice is to turn that off in Settings > Mobile Data if you don't have a large data allowace). 

This feature looks at what to do if FaceTime isn't working. We explain how to check whether the issue is at Apple's end, finding out whether FaceTime is down, and what to do if Apple’s FaceTime isn’t working for another reason. These FaceTime fixes will help you troubleshoot Apple’s video phone call app.

Related: How to make free phone calls on iPhone and iPad and The best apps for making free phone calls

FaceTime not working: How to find out if FaceTime is down

If Apple's FaceTime server is down there's not much you can do about it, but you will at least know that FaceTime is down and it's not you who has broken it. Here, we show you how to check whether FaceTime is having server issues.

Apple has its own System Status webpage here. The Apple System Status site should give you up-to-date information about the status of FaceTime along with other Apple services such as iMessage, the App Store, and Apple Music. Often more than one of these goes down at the same time.

The System Status webpage also gives you a heads up if any services have planned maintenance work - so you might like to check it before you arrange an important video call with a client or grandparent. Apple also uses the webpage to report back on any recently resolved issues to its services.

If you make this site your first port of call if you have an issue with FaceTime (or any of Apple's services) you can at least rule out it being an issue with your device or connection to the internet. If it turns out that the problem is at your end we have fixes for that below.

However, before you start troubleshooting, you need to make absolutely sure that it's not the case that FaceTime isn't working due to a localised issue that itn't showing up on Apple's website. Apple’s System Status site may not pick up an issue only affecting a small number of customers, or it could be that the website only checks the service status every 5/10/30 mins and is yet to be updated.

Thankfully, there are some third-party service status websites that relying on crowdsourced data to offer the most up-to-date status information. We tend to look on Down Detector, which will report on the status of Apple services as well as other services such as Steam.

Down Detector provides a graph of the past 24 hours, and a map so you can see whether you’re in an affected area.

There’s also a free Down Detector iOS app.

Read next: Is iTunes down? | Is Apple Pay down?

FaceTime not working: Check your Wi-Fi and mobile connection

The first port of call if FaceTime isn’t working check the Internet connection on all your devices. (You will probably discover that your internet is down before you attempt to find out if Apple's FaceTime server is down).

However, your internet may be working ok, but there may be an issue with the way your device is set up which is stopping it from connecting.

Tap Settings > Wi-Fi on an iOS device and System Preferences > Network on Mac OS X and check that the settings correspond to those on your local router.

Most UK mobile phone networks also allow FaceTime over cellular, so check Settings > Mobile data on both the iPad and iPhone if you wanted to use your data connection to make a call.

FaceTime not working: Update your software

The first step is to ensure that the software on all your iOS and Mac OS X devices are up-to-date.

It is possible that Apple has changed a requirement of the software so that it is necessary to update your device to use the service. Check your version of iOS is the latest one by going to Settings > General > Software Update.

Some times it's an issue with Apple's software that causes the problem but normally the company will update the software quickly to solve it. For example, back in April 2014 there was an issue with FaceTime devices making or receiving calls due to expired device certificates. An Apple update fixed this.

FaceTime not working: Check that FaceTime is switched on

Turn FaceTime on to fix non working FaceTime

Check that you have FaceTime switched on. On your iOS device, tap on Settings > FaceTime and set the FaceTime switch to On.

On Mac OS X, launch the FaceTime app and click on FaceTime > Turn FaceTime On.

FaceTime not working: Check you're signed in to FaceTime with the right Apple ID

Check that you are signed in to all your FaceTime accounts using the same Apple ID. Within iOS tap on Settings > FaceTime and check the Apple ID. In Mac OS X tap on FaceTime > Preferences and check the Apple ID.

If any of the devices don’t match. Tap on Sign Out and enter the same Apple ID and Password as your other devices (then tap Sign In).

FaceTime not working: What to do if FaceTime is stuck on 'Waiting for Activation'

When you sign in to FaceTime, it will say Waiting for Activation. If any of your devices hang on the Waiting for Activation turn off FaceTime and back on again. Here is how to turn FaceTime on and off on an iOS and Mac OS X Device:

How to reset FaceTime on an iOS Device: Tap on Settings > FaceTime and set FaceTime to Off. Then turn FaceTime back to On.

How to reset FaceTime on a Mac: Open the FaceTime app and choose FaceTime > Preferences. Now set FaceTime to Off and then back to On.

FaceTime not working: Check the time and date

Facetime Fix check date and time

Check that the time and date are set correctly on all of the devices. Open System Preferences on a Mac, and click on Date & Time. Check the box next to Set date and time automatically and choose the Apple Europe server from the drop-down menu.

On your iOS device tap Settings > General > Date & Time and check that the Set Automatically option is set to On (and that Time Zone is set to your current location).

FaceTime not working: Check your phone number is correct

Tap on Settings > FaceTime on your iOS devices and check that your correct phone number and Apple ID is listed underneath “You can be reached by FaceTime at”. If not tap on Add Another Email.

If you aren't receiving a FaceTime call you are expecting check that the person attempting to make the call has the correct contact details for you.

FaceTime-800

FaceTime not working: Check your Blocked list

Double check that you haven’t accidentally added the person trying to call you to a Blocked list. On an iOS device tap on Settings > FaceTime > Blocked and check that they are not listed here.

If they are tap on Edit, then tap the red Remove icon next to their name and Unblock.

FaceTime not working: Make sure the FaceTime app is available

In some countries, FaceTime is not installed by default. Apple suggests you check your device’s region of purchase. Note: we don’t know if reinstalling iOS can work around this block. If any readers with an iPhone in this area has more information, please let us (and other readers) know in the comments.

FaceTime not working: Restart all your devices

Finally, restart all your devices. Hold down the Sleep/Wake button on an iOS device and use the Slide To Power Off setting, then tap the Sleep/Wake button again to turn on the iOS device. Click Apply > Restart on a Mac OS X device.

If it's still not working it may be time to make an appointment to go to see an Apple Genius at the Apple Store, read about how to do that here: How to book an Apple appointment: Set up a visit to the Genius Bar in the Apple Store