User not available for FaceTime when calling overseas

Q: My son in Germany has an iPhone with Wi-Fi. I tried calling the correct number—overseas, country and locality codes. When I try to call him I get a message that he is “not available for FaceTime.” That means he can’t receive I think. What am I doing wrong?

– Jim

User not available for FaceTime when calling overseas

A: Unfortunately, the message that a user is “Not Available for FaceTime” can several things, including an incorrect number, the user being out of appropriate network coverage, or the user simply declining or not answering the FaceTime call. Calling the wrong number usually results in a different message that the user is not registered for FaceTime, but we have seen situations where the user is simply shown as “not available” instead.

So you should first ensure that you are calling your son’s FaceTime number using a proper mobile number format; although most North American landlines require you to prefix an international call with “011”, this is not the case when calling via a mobile network—instead of “011” the “+” sign is used.

So to call Germany, instead of beginning your number with “01149” you would need to dial “+49”; the “+” key can be accessed by holding down the “0” key on the iPhone dialling keypad, or entering it into the phone number field in a contact record using the standard iPhone keyboard. Note that many cellular carriers will accept a “011” prefix for compatibility with landlines, however Apple’s FaceTime servers don’t know how to handle this and simply look for the actual number: country code + local number.

Alternatively, if your son has signed up for FaceTime using an Apple ID, you may be able to reach him by “calling” his e-mail address via FaceTime instead of his phone number. See our Guide to FaceTime + iMessage: Setup, Use, and Troubleshooting for more information on how to set this up.

You may also want to have your son call you via FaceTime, which will display the correct FaceTime address from his iPhone as the caller ID. You can then add to your address book just to make sure you’re using the correct phone number or e-mail address for him.

Also, depending on the model of iPhone your son is using and how he has it configured, he may only be able to receive FaceTime calls when he is actually on a Wi-Fi network. Only the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 allow FaceTime over a cellular data connection, and even with those models the feature can be disabled by the user to minimize cellular data expenses. If your son does not have FaceTime over Cellular enabled, then he will not receive any FaceTime calls while away from a Wi-Fi network, and caller will simply receive a message that he is not available. The option to enable of disable FaceTime over a cellular data connection can be found either under Settings, FaceTime, or Settings, General, Cellular.

If you’ve confirmed that you are calling the correct number or e-mail address and that your son is on a Wi-Fi network when you are trying to call, yet he is still not receiving your FaceTime calls at all, then the problem likely lies with whatever Wi-Fi network he is on. Certain firewall and router configurations can block FaceTime calls, and in many cases this may even only block incoming FaceTime communications, allowing his calls to reach you but preventing your calls from reaching him.