Getting a Migration Authorisation Code (MAC)

Tuesday 21st January, 2014 By
Woman sitting on sofa with laptop

Migration Authorisation Codes - also known as MACs or MAC codes - allow you to switch broadband without losing the internet or your home phone for any significant amount of time.

In this guide:

What is a MAC?
How do you get a MAC?
Do you need a MAC to switch provider?

What is a MAC?

Migration authorisation codes are more commonly known as MACs or MAC codes - although as the 'C' itself stands for 'code' it upsets the pedants (and by 'pedants', I mean, er, us) if you call them MAC codes.

MACs allow you to switch to a new broadband provider without a having to go without the internet for more than a couple of hours tops, so you won't miss a single Facebook status update or so much as a #sadface on Twitter. It might even mean you don't have to pay any one-off activation or connection fees.

In technical terms, in case you're interested, a MAC is like a serial number used to identify your phone line. So, if you're switching broadband and the provider you're switching to has this code, it makes sure they can keep track of your phone line during the switch.

How do you get a MAC?

To get your MAC all you need to do is call your current broadband provider and ask them for it - you can find the customer service number for all the big broadband providers and a lot of the smaller ones below.

Broadband providers have to give you a MAC within five working days of you asking them for one, according to Ofcom - the UK's communications watchdog - regulations. Once you have it, keep it in a safe place and give it to the provider you're switching to when you're signing up to a new package. Simple.

Before you switch, check out the latest deals available to make sure you're getting the best package for your needs at the best price. Broadband, phone and TV offers change all the time, so compare deals in your area using our Ofcom-approved comparison calculator to see what's available at the moment.

Broadband Provider Website Sales number Customer service number
AAISP Go to website 0333 3400 222 033 33 400 999
AOL Broadband Go to website 0800 049 4404 0844 499 5555
BE Broadband (now Sky) Go to website 0844 241 0582 0844 241 1653
BT Broadband Go to website 0800 028 4474 0800 800 150
Direct Save Telecom Go to website 0800 280 2021 0845 272 0072
EE Go to website 0800 072 4137 0844 873 8586
Hive Telecom Go to website 0800 092 0004 0800 092 0004
John Lewis Broadband Go to website 0800 022 3300 0800 022 3300
Madasafish Go to website 0844 395 0830 0844 395 0830
O2 (now Sky) Go to website 0844 241 0582 0844 241 1653
Orange Broadband (now EE) Go to website 0800 072 4137 0844 873 8586
Plusnet Go to website 0808 178 5954 0345 140 0200
Post Office Go to website 0845 722 3344 0845 611 2970
Primus Saver Go to website 0800 036 0170 0800 036 3839
Sky Go to website 0844 241 0582 0844 241 1653
TalkTalk Go to website 0800 049 7843 0870 444 1820
Virgin Media Go to website 0808 189 0514 0845 454 1111
XLN Go to website 0808 256 5231 0844 880 7777
Zen Go to website 01706 902 000 01706 902 000

Do you need a MAC to switch broadband?

If you have (WARNING: jargon alert)...local loop unbundled (LLU) broadband - see our jargon buster for a brief explanation of LLU - which you're likely to have if you're with Plusnet, Sky or TalkTalk, or if you have Virgin Media cable broadband, you won't need a MAC to switch broadband.

When you switch from LLU broadband the provider you're switching to will contact your current provider itself to make the switch once you've signed up to one of their packages. If you're switching from or to cable broadband you don't need a MAC because cable broadband doesn't use a regular phone line.

If you're not sure if you need a MAC, give your current provider a call and ask before switching broadband, because if you do need one, but switch without it, you could find yourself not being able to get online or use the phone for some time during the switch.

So, aren't MACs just an additional pain?

Well quite. The good news is Ofcom is introducing new guidelines, which will come into effect in 2015, that'll do away with MACs for good, making switching broadband much simpler.

Click here for more on how to switch broadband

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