How to keep your number when moving networks

Keep mobile number

It’s easy to keep your existing phone number when you change network. Here we'll walk you through the number-porting process step by step. And really take the strain out of switching.

Switching mobile networks doesn't have to mean losing your old phone number. Whether you're after a better deal, improved coverage, or just fancy a change, porting your number to a new network is straightforward and quick with the help of a PAC, or porting authorisation code. Follow these steps and you'll be calling from your preferred network in no time, all while keeping those digits that everyone knows you by.

Step 1: Make sure you're free to switch without early termination charges

Before you get too excited about the move, it's important to ensure that you won't be hit with early termination charges. Here's how to stay on the safe side:

  • Check if your contract period has ended to avoid any unexpected fees
  • You can confirm your contract status through various means - the network's website, their customer service, or even the smartphone app if they have one
  • Remember, leaving while still under contract might lead to a hefty bill, so it’s worth double-checking to save yourself from an unwanted surprise

Step 2: Sign up for a new SIM or phone

Now’s the time to complete the purchase of the new phone you’ve been coveting. Or sign up for a SIM on the network you’d like to join. This step is about finding the perfect deal for you, and there are plenty to choose from:

  • You'll find deals from all the major networks on broadbandchoices, including O2, Vodafone, Three, and more
  • Don't rush this step – take your time to find a plan that fits your needs and budget

Step 3: Contact your network and ask for a PAC

Getting your PAC, or Porting Authorisation Code, is a key step in keeping your phone number when switching networks:

  • Simply request a PAC from your current network. This code is crucial for transferring your number
  • You can get your PAC by making a phone call or by sending a text message
  • According to Ofcom regulations, networks are required to provide the PAC immediately over the phone or within two hours by text

Step 4: Give your PAC to your new network

Once you have your PAC in hand, it's time to get in touch with your new network:

  • Let your new provider know that you intend to keep your existing number and give them the PAC
  • The process of porting your number could start as early as the next working day after providing the code
  • Keep in mind that the PAC is only valid for 30 days. If you don't use it within this period, you'll have to request a new one

Step 5: Make the switch

The final step involves a bit of patience as the transfer takes place:

  • Continue using your old SIM until you can no longer make calls or send texts – this signals that the porting process has begun
  • Once you're unable to use your old SIM, it's time to switch to the new one
  • Test the number transfer by making a call or sending a text with your new SIM. If it works, congratulations, the switch is complete

Keeping your number within the same network

If you're not leaving your network but simply changing deals or upgrading your phone, the process is even simpler:

  • Order your new deal or handset and the network will take care of the rest
  • There's no need for a PAC when you're staying with the same provider
  • Typically known as 'SIM Swap' with some networks, this process may involve confirming SIM serial numbers and can often be completed online for some networks

Before you make the switch, don't forget to back up your contacts and any important information from your old phone.

Need a bit of help choosing a new phone? Take a look at our pick of the best deals on iPhones, Samsung handsets, and more. And if you're curious about when your contract ends or which network has the best coverage, we have additional resources to guide you.

Switching networks while keeping your number is a breeze when you know the steps. Take control of your mobile experience and enjoy the freedom of choice.

Frequently asked questions

Will I lose service when I port my number to a new network?

You shouldn't lose service for any significant length of time when you get a new mobile deal and take your number with you.

The porting process is designed to be as smooth as possible - though we recommend keeping your old SIM in your phone until the switchover has happened.

There's a chance you'll have a very short period of outage when the number ports over, but this shouldn't last longer than a few minutes.

Can I still keep my number if I'm moving to a SIM Only deal?

Yes, you can. If you move from one network to another then you need to ask your old network for a PAC code, and give it to your new network within 30 days.

Your new network will port your mobile number over to your new SIM. If you're keeping the same mobile phone but changing networks, remember to check if your handset is locked to your existing network.

Can I keep my number if I've moved to a new network and forgot to ask a PAC?

You can sign up for a new mobile contract with a new network before cancelling your previous plan.

In this case, your old number will still be with your old network until you ask them for the PAC code to port it over.

If you've already cancelled your previous contract and didn't get a PAC code, it's still worth contacting your old network to see if they'll issue you one.

Depending on how long ago you cancelled the contract, you might still be able to get a PAC code to move your old number to the new network.

What if my PAC code expires before I get my new SIM?

If you cancel your contract, get the PAC code issued, but then do not manage to give your new network the code within 30 days, don't worry - you can request a new PAC code from your old network.

Most of the time this shouldn't be a problem. When a contract has terminated, and the phone number hasn't been ported over, the number is quarantined for about 6 months, meaning it should be retrievable and you can use it again.

Speak to your old network and see what they can do.

If, for whatever reason, the number transfer is delayed by your old network, you could be entitled to a reimbursement.

Check the network's small print to see what your rights are, and then get in touch with their customer services team.

How do I back up my old contacts?

First of all, find out if your contacts are saved to the phone or to the SIM. You can do this by removing the SIM card from the phone and switching the phone back on to see if your contacts are still there.

If they're still on the phone, then you should either:

  • Back them up using a memory card or cloud service
  • Or take no action if you're getting a new SIM only deal but keeping the same handset

If your contacts are on the SIM card, copy them onto the handset.

Look for 'import or copy SIM Contacts' in your phone's settings or take a look at your phone's manual.

Why should I keep my current mobile phone number?

First and foremost, it's the number that all your family, friends and contacts use to get in touch with you. Secondly, a lot of companies you use every day have your existing number too.

Informing all your contacts that you've got a new number (and getting them to actually change your number in their contacts list) can be time-consuming a hassle for both you and them - and someone is bound to get it wrong.

You'll have to get hold of your bank, insurance, energy, TV and broadband providers and every other company that may need to get in contact with you.

Will there be charges if I cancel my mobile phone contract early?

If you're thinking about cancelling your contract early then you’ll almost certainly be liable for charges.

Most probably you’ll end up paying fees equal to the amount of remaining monthly payments on your contract.

For example, if you have four months left on your contract and you pay £25 a month, then your cancellation fee could be £100 (£25 x 4).

To find out if you will incur cancellation charges (also called 'disconnection' or 'early termination' fees) speak to your network.

You might be able to reduce the charge by reducing your monthly allowance and the monthly cost.

If you want to cancel your contact but stay with the same network on a new plan, then speak to your network, as they might be able to offer you a deal.

What is a PAC code?

A PAC, or Porting Authorisation Code, is a short nine-digit code that is required if you want to move your existing mobile phone number from one network to another.

All you need to do is get the code from your existing network and give it to the network you'd like to join. 

Can I move to EE, Three, Vodafone, O2 or BT Mobile and take my number?

All networks allow you to port your existing phone number. To keep your number, sign up to your new network, then get the PAC code from your existing network and give it to the new one.

The new network then conducts some checks and will tell you when the number will be moved over.

Can I move to EE, Three, Vodafone, O2 or BT Mobile and take my number?

All networks allow you to port your existing phone number. To keep your number, sign up to your new network, then get the PAC code from your existing network and give it to the new one.

The new network then conducts some checks and will tell you when the number will be moved over.

Can I leave Three, EE, Vodafone or O2 and take my number?

All networks are legally obliged to allow you to port your number to another network when you leave.

But you’ll need to request a PAC code from them, which you’ll be required to give your network when you make the switch.

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