Voice Mailbox Has Not Been Set Up Yet: Meaning?

Here’s what it means when you call someone and it says the person you called has a voice mailbox that has not been set up yet:

It means that the carrier does not have enough information from the person you are calling to correctly record and deliver voicemails.

Because of that, you will not be able to record a message for that person. 

The only way to resolve this is for the person you are contacting to set up their voicemail mailbox.

So if you want to learn all about the meaning of the “voicemail has not been set up” message, then this article is for you.

Let’s jump right in!

Voice Mailbox Has Not Been Set Up Yet: Meaning? (Blocked?)

What Does It Mean When the Voicemail Mailbox Is Not Set Up?

Cute girl browsing in the net while recording voice mail on smartphone

It means exactly what it sounds like.

The person you are calling has a voicemail service attached to their phone account, but the mailbox is not yet set up.

Because they haven’t set up the mailbox, they don’t have a way to access voicemail recordings.

Since that is the case, the phone service will not allow you to make a recording.

There are a few reasons for this.

Namely, the carrier doesn’t want to enable voicemail recordings for an account that cannot currently be accessed.

That is a potential security and liability issue, and the safer default is to prevent anyone from leaving a voicemail until the mailbox is properly set up.

Now, this can obviously happen with a new voicemail account, but that’s not the only reason you might hear this message.

Service upgrades can change features and functions attached to a voicemail account, which can require a person to redo their mailbox setup.

That means you can suddenly hear this message even if you have previously left this person voicemails without a problem.

Why Do You Need to Set Up Your Voicemail?

Data center showing server equipment with flickering light indicators

This leads to an interesting question.

Why can’t the voicemail just work automatically?

Why do you need to go through a setup process in the first place?

This is because voicemail is a remote digital service. 

Voicemails are not recorded on your phone.

Instead, they are recorded on carrier servers.

When you access your voicemail, the recordings can then be downloaded to your phone.

This, by the way, is why someone can leave you a voicemail when your phone is off.

Since the phone doesn’t create the recording, the service is able to perform when the phone itself is inaccessible.

This is the important part.

If your voicemails are recorded on a server somewhere, then you want there to be security around accessing those voicemails.

That’s why you have to go through a setup process. 

This usually involves picking a pin and/or password.

The setup process will also prompt you to set up your voicemail message (which is more about convenience and presentation than security).

The system needs to be able to distinguish you from all of the other users on the carrier network.

Only after that distinction has been created can the service protect your privacy. 

Along those same lines, the setup process creates the means for the service to know who you are so that you definitely get the right voicemails.

Carriers build voicemail services around these ideas for good reasons.

Why Don’t They Just Encode the Voicemail System to Your Device?

young woman alone at home recording a voice message on her phone

So, even if the voicemail system needs security and identification, why don’t they just encode it to your device?

Your phone number is secure without any special setup.

Why does voicemail need to be different?

It comes down to additional security and convenience concerns.

If your voicemail is married to your device rather than a remote account, what would happen if you sell or trade-in your phone? 

You would no longer be able to access your voicemail mailbox, and you would need a whole new mailbox for future messages.

Also, the person who receives your old phone would have access to that old mailbox.

Instead, voicemail is married to your phone number.

That way, even if you change the device you use, you can still access the same voicemail setup.

That’s why it is based on your account and phone number rather than the device itself.

It’s also why you don’t have to set up your voicemail every time you get a new phone.

You only have to set it up for your account one time or again if you change the service.

How Do You Set Up Voicemail?

Young female employee is sending a voicemail through her smartphone

Ok. So how can one go about setting up their voicemail?

There are a few ways to do this.

Voicemail is run by carriers, so depending on who provides your phone service, the steps can change.

That said, most smartphones have the means to do the setup right there in the software.

On an iPhone, you can get to your voicemail by holding down the 1 key on your dial pad.

Keep holding it until the phone starts to dial something.

This will be your 10-digit voicemail phone number. 

When this number is dialed, it will let you access your mailbox.

But, if you haven’t set it up yet, you will be prompted to set up your voicemail.

Follow the steps, and you will be able to pick your pin (or password) and a few settings.

If you want to change anything regarding your voicemail, you can do that with the phone app on the phone.

The bottom right icon is for your voicemail.

Tap it to download messages, change your greeting and manage storage space on the phone.

With an Android, you can also access your voicemail by holding the 1 key on your dial pad.

This will be just like the iPhone steps.

The phone will automatically dial your voicemail number, and it will greet you with setup prompts.

Go through them, and your voicemail will be ready to go.

You can also tap the voicemail icon on an Android phone to get to your recordings and change voicemail settings.

If you don’t have access to your phone, you can still set up your voicemail.

To do this, you will need a working phone (but it doesn’t have to be yours). 

Call your phone number and wait for the voicemail to connect.

When it plays the recording to leave a message, hit the pound key (#) on the dial pad.

This will connect you to your voicemail service, and it will ask you for your pin. 

This is something that should have been set up with the carrier when you first joined them.

If you don’t know your pin, you may need to contact the carrier to get that information.

Once you enter your pin, you will have access to your voicemail mailbox.

If it hasn’t been set up yet, you will be given prompts to do so at that time.


  • Theresa McDonough

    Tech entrepreneur and founder of Tech Medic, who has become a prominent advocate for the Right to Repair movement. She has testified before the US Federal Trade Commission and been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, helping influence change within the tech industry.

    View all posts