How to Opt in to Contact Tracing on iPhone

Choose to participate in tracing COVID-19

With the growing need for the use of a contact tracing app wherever you are in the world, it's important to know how to opt in to contact tracing on your cellphone as well as how to opt-out if you choose against participating in the process.

As of this writing, contact tracing can only be enabled on your iPhone if you have downloaded a compatible contact tracing app to your device. Only a handful of states currently have available contact tracing apps available.

Mobile contact tracing is considered a valuable part of the effort in the fight against contagious diseases or viruses like COVID-19 but if you have privacy concerns, you may prefer to opt out at a later date. Here's how to opt in as well as opt out of contact tracing on iPhone. 

This information primarily relates to cellphone contact tracing within the US but most of the information is relevant for other countries that are also adopting contact tracing apps.

Preparing Your Phone for Contact Tracing

Because of how iPhones work, you need to have your iOS device up to date with iOS 13.5 or above to be able to activate cellphone contact tracing. That's because the process uses Bluetooth contact tracing methods which require an update to work across all smartphones. 

You also need to install a health tracking app that works as part of the contact tracing endeavor. In the US, the decision to use exposure notifications is made by each state's public health authority so different states have different apps and some are choosing to not offer such a service. It's important to install the right app for your state. 

In other countries such as the UK, one app applies to the whole area. 

How to Opt-In to Contact Tracing on iPhone

In the US, you have to opt-in to be part of any COVID-19 based smartphone contact tracing. That's also the case in other countries such as the UK, so it's important to know how to opt in to the service on your iPhone. Apple refers to it as Exposure Notifications but it's the same thing as contact tracing. Here's what to do to get all set up.

To activate Exposure Notifications/COVID-19 contact tracing, you need to install the latest iOS update—13.5 or above—as well as have a related health tracking app installed. 

  1. On your iPhone, tap Settings.

  2. Scroll down and tap Privacy.

  3. Tap Health.

  4. Tap COVID-19 Exposure Logging.

    The steps for finding COVID-19 Exposure Logging setting under iOS Settings
  5. Tap Exposure Logging to toggle the setting on.

    If this setting isn't available to you, that's because it either isn't available in your region or you don't have a relevant health tracking app installed. 

  6. You've now opted-in to COVID-19 Exposure Logging and contact tracing. The public health app you have installed will now track any time you're exposed to COVID-19. 

How to Opt out of Contact Tracing on iPhone

In the US, you have to choose to opt into the contact tracing app program for your data to be shared anonymously with others. That's also the case in many other countries. However, if you've chosen to opt in then at a later date changed your mind, how do you opt out? Here's how to opt out of contact tracing within a few simple steps.

  1. On your iPhone, tap Settings.

  2. Scroll down and tap Privacy.

  3. Tap Health.

  4. Tap COVID-19 Exposure Logging.

  5. Tap Exposure Logging to toggle the setting off.

    If this setting isn't available to you, that's because you no longer have a relevant health tracking app installed. It's been automatically switched off.

  6. You will now no longer share your exposure information with others anonymously.

How to Delete Exposure Logs

Contact tracing also creates a series of logs that compromise of all the requests to check your exposure log in the last 14 days. It's possible to delete these without opting out of the contact tracing initiative. Here's how to do it.

  1. On your iPhone, tap Settings.

  2. Scroll down and tap Privacy.

  3. Tap Health.

  4. Tap COVID-19 Exposure Logging.

  5. Tap Delete Exposure Log.

    You can also click Exposure Checks to see all the records of random IDs that you've previously come into contact with over the past two weeks.

  6. Your records are now deleted.