Cell Phone Contracts and the SCRA

A person holds a white iPhone

The Servicemember's Civil Relief Act [SCRA] can be helpful if you need to cancel or change your cell phone contract because you are a servicemember who has received new military orders for more than 90 days to an area not supported by the contract.

The cell phone service provider is not allowed to impose an "early termination fee" nor are they allowed to impose a "reactivation fee" for suspension of your cell phone contract if you re-subscribe within 90 days starting on the last day of your relocation. If you are being deployed outside the continental United States, the cell phone provider must permit you to suspend the contract at no charge until the end of your deployment and without requiring that your contract be extended.  However, this law only applies if you signed the cell phone contract BEFORE you got the new orders.

To benefit, the  orders must require you to 

1.Deploy outside of the continental United States for not less than 90 days,

or

2. Receive a permanent 'change of duty' station within the United States,

and

3. The new location is an area that is not supported by the contract.

If this is true in your case,  you  can request that your current cell phone contract be terminated or suspended.  You also must explain why your ability to satisfy the contract or to use the service will be materially affected by your deployment or permanent change of duty station. (One example of a "material change" would be if your cell phone contract involves a phone company that doesn't provide service in your new duty station.)

To get the protection, you need to write to your cell phone service provider and provide a copy of your military orders. (Examples of other SCRA letters are provided on this website.) Keep a copy of what you have sent in case there are questions later.

Authority: Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, 50 U.S.C. Section 3956.
Resource Date: July 2018