Getting a Migration Authorisation Code (MAC)

ByHelen Thomas
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  0808 100 1441  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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