Add Existing Apple Devices to Your DEP Account

Last updated May 2, 2022

Apple’s Device Enrollment Program (DEP) allows businesses to enroll new iOS and macOS devices with an Apple iOS MDM automatically when they are turned on for the first time. This is a tremendous time-saver for organizations as they can ship devices directly to their final destination, without requiring IT staff set up beforehand. More information on Apple DEP is available here: Explained: The Apple Device Enrollment Program.

DEP has traditionally been reserved for new device purchases. Despite this, there are methods for adding devices to a DEP account at a later time, after the purchase has occurred. This article outlines them,

All Devices with iOS 11 and Later are Eligible for DEP Enrollment

Starting with iOS 11, all devices, no matter how they have been purchased, may be added to a DEP program using Apple Configurator 2.5 or later. For more information, view our walkthrough guide.

Some Devices before iOS 11 are Eligible for DEP Enrollment

Whether an existing device is eligible for DEP enrollment or not depends upon how it was originally purchased. In the eyes of Apple, devices can be purchased one of two ways:

  • As a consumer purchase
  • Through an Apple business account

As a hard rule, only devices purchased through an Apple business account can be added to a DEP account. If, for instance, you walk into an Apple Store and buy an iPad, Apple cannot add that iPad to your DEP account. If you purchased the iPad through an Apple business account, Apple can add your device to your DEP account.

Additionally, devices must have been purchased after March 1, 2011. Devices purchased before this date cannot be added to DEP.

What About Devices Not Purchased Directly From Apple?

The answer gets a little trickier. As mentioned above, devices not purchased through an Apple business account aren’t eligible. The good news is that many equipment vendors purchase devices through their Apple business account, meaning that those devices are potentially eligible. Examples may be:

  • Cellular carriers, such as AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile
  • 3rd party retailers, such as CDW, Ingram Micro, and NewEgg
  • Used equipment resellers, in the event the original purchaser used an Apple business account

In general, if a device was purchased directly from an Apple Store or the Apple website without a business account, you’re out of luck. If it was purchased otherwise, you may still be able to add your device to DEP.

How To Add Existing Devices To DEP

With the release of Apple Business Manager, it is now possible for customers to associate Apple customer and Apple reseller numbers to a DEP account. Previously, customers were required to contact Apple to have this action performed for them.

If you do not have this information available, we recommend getting in touch with your local Apple Store. They will need information about the supplier that you obtained your devices through.

Common Questions

I’m receiving “INVALID_INPUT” when I assign devices to an MDM server within Apple Business Manager. Why?

You may receive an INVALID_INPUT error from Apple Business Manager when attempting to assign devices to an MDM Server object. This error typically means that one or all of the device serial numbers provided do not exist in your Apple Business Manager account and so they cannot be assigned to the server.

There are a few reasons that a serial number may not exist in your account:

  1. The device was just purchased. It can take a few hours for the serial number to appear.
  2. Apple or your Apple reseller have yet to register the order with your Apple Business Manager account. You will need to contact them and request that they do so.
  3. The device was purchased through an ineligible channel. You may be able to add it to your Apple Business Manager account manually. See above.

If you continue to see the INVALID_INPUT error after verifying that your equipment order has been registered with your Apple Business Manager account, we suggest contacting Apple for further troubleshooting.

Comments (11)

Your information is inaccurate when discussing what devices qualify for DEP. You wrote that as a hard rule only devices purchased with an Apple business account are eligible for DEP, which is inaccurate. Per the DEP guide, purchases from Apple or participating Apple Authorized Resellers or carriers are eligible. The “may be eligible” caveat that you should clarify is that “You can search for orders you placed directly with Apple after March 1, 2011, by order or by serial number [in DEP]. If you’ve placed orders from a participating Apple Authorized Reseller, your look-back period will be at the discretion of the reseller.” which means that if you bought iPhones before enrolling in DEP, it’s possible that the reseller is unable to add them to your DEP account, which is where Configurator 2.5 would come into play for devices that will update to iOS 11.

Our article states that devices purchased through third parties may also be eligible. Please refer to the “What About Devices Not Purchased Directly From Apple?” section. Also please note that all iOS devices are eligible for DEP management as of iOS 11.

Can you switch carriers with an Apple DEP device? So if you have a device that you purchased from AT&T and enroll that device in Apple DEP and your MDM but later switch to Verizon, can you still use that device or does it need to be reset completely and start over?

Hi Lino- The carrier is responsible for adding devices to your DEP account. The Apple DEP account is not necessarily tied to any carrier.

I understand the enrolment for pre-existing iOS devices through Apple Configurator, but what about macOS devices, is there an equivalent for them?

Hi Mark- As of now, Apple’s “Provisional Enrollment” functionality is currently not available for macOS. This may change in the future though Apple has not stated this one way or another.

Any updates here? I’m getting ready to adopt a batch of macOS devices from an MSP and would love to enroll them directly through ABM instead of manually through the SimpleMDM admin interface.

Hi Alex- As of today, Apple does not support manually adding macOS computers to ABM using Apple Configurator. If this changes, we will update the article.

This article was very helpful! Thanks for publishing it. Navigating through the endless series of Apple doors, locks, gates, and mazes has its challenges. Thanks for making this a little easier with clear-cut explanations!

Is it possible to add devices that are already in the MDM to Apple School/Business Manager (DEP) or should I remove them from the MDM first and then.

The reason I ask is because we have several devices in our SimpleMDM but have just recently acquired an Apple School Manager account. We have several devices that have been bought second hand for secondary functions, such as Room Reservation displays, Remote cameras and other Kiosk type applications.

Our current process is this (and it works as of writing).

0. Delete device from SimpleMDM
1. Add devices via Apple Configurator to Apple School / Business Manager (AS/BM)
2. The enrolment will always fail first as the device gets added to the Apple Configurator on the AS/BM. However the device appear
3. Move the device to our SimpleMDM group in AS/BM
4. Make sure to Sync our SimpleMDM DEP enrolment to get the list of the new devices awaiting enrolment.
5. Erase the device via Apple Configurator … yes again
6. The device will now fetch our SimpleMDM configuration and enrol to SimpleMDM

So my question stands. Do we need to do step 0. ?

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