Keeping your mobile number when switching: PAC codes explained

ByDuncan Heaney
Young woman using a mobile phone

So, you've found a better mobile phone deal on another network, but you don't want to lose your number when you switch. Is it possible to take your number with you? If so, how do you go about keeping it? Get the answers to these questions and more here...

Can I keep my old mobile phone number?

Want to change mobile network without losing your phone number? Well, good news - you can. Porting your number is actually a fairly simple process. In this guide we'll tell you exactly what you need to do.

How do I keep my mobile number?

If you want to transfer your old number to your new phone and network, here's what you need to do:

  • Before you switch networks, request a PAC code from your current provider. A PAC (Porting Authorisation Code) is a series of numbers and letters - typically nine digits - that tells your new network everything it needs to know to seamlessly switch your phone number.
  • Compare phones and plans to find a handset and tariff that suits you and order online.
  • When you receive your new handset, set it up with the instructions provided.
  • Once the phone's set up, you will have an active sim card with a temporary number.
  • Contact your new network, and ask them to port your old phone number. You'll need to give them your PAC so they can make the switch. 
  • Your old number will become assigned to that sim, typically within 1-3 working days.

Read our 5 step guide to switching mobile networks and keeping your number.

Can anyone port a mobile phone number?

For the most part, yes, but as with anything technology-based, there are a few restrictions. 

If you're still under the minimum term period of your existing contract, you won't be able to port your number. You'll either have to wait until the end of your contract, or offer to pay out the remainder of your term - although not every network may let you do this. Speak to your operator's customer service team to arrange this.

It's also worth noting that if you're on a pay as you go plan, you can't carry credit over if you port your number. So use it or lose it. 

How do I get my PAC code?

Networks are required to provide your PAC upon request - either over the phone or within two hours by text. PACs are valid for 30 days after issue. To get yours, contact your current provider before you switch.

O2 PAC

If you're on a pay monthly plan, call 202 from your mobile or 0844 809 0202 from any other phone. Pay as you go customers should call 4445 from their mobile, or 0844 809 0222 from another phone.

EE/Orange/T-Mobile PAC

Call150 from your mobile, or 07953 966 250 from any other phone.

Three PAC

For those on pay monthly plans, dial 333 from your Three phone, or 07782 333 333 from any other phone. For pay as you go, dial 444 from your mobile, or 07782 333 444 from any other phone.

Vodafone PAC

If you're a pay monthly customer, dial 191 from your mobile, or 08700 700 191 from any other phone. If you pay as you go, call 191 from your mobile or 07836 191919 from any other phone

Virgin Mobile PAC:To get your PAC from Virgin Mobile, dial 789 from your handset or 0845 6000 789 from any other phone.

Tesco Mobile PAC

Call 4455 from your mobile, or 0845 301 4455 from any other phone.

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