How to transfer your mobile number to a new provider
By Phil Wilkinson-Jones | Tuesday, April 25th 2023
Switching mobile providers is a great way to save money, take advantage of incredible deals and to bag yourself a shiny new handset. But getting stuck with a new number can be a bit of a nuisance – there are so many people and companies to tell about a change in number that you’re bound to forget someone.
The good news is that, since Ofcom introduced its Text-to-Switch service, transferring your number from one mobile provider to another is a simple process. In this guide we’ll explain exactly what to do and provide you with all the information you need.
Request a PAC from your current provider
The first step is to ask your current provider for a Porting Authorisation Code (PAC). This is a nine-digit code of letters and numbers that is needed to transfer your mobile number from one provider to another.
You can request a PAC either by calling your provider’s customer services number, by using your online account on your provider’s website, or – the easiest way – by using Ofcom’s Text-to-Switch service. To do this, simply text PAC to 65075 – regardless of the provider you are with – and you will automatically receive a PAC in return.
If you decide to speak to a customer service agent, it is likely they will offer you discounts or other incentives to stay – some of which might be worth considering. If you’re determined not to be swayed with offers to stay, then it may be easier to just send the PAC request text.
Mobile phone providers are obliged to give you a PAC immediately if you request one over the phone and within a minute by text.
PACs are valid for up to 30 days so make sure you pass it on to your new provider within this timeframe. If you miss the window, you’ll just have to request a new PAC.
Give the PAC to your new provider
The next step is to give the PAC to your new provider. Don’t worry about not knowing when to do this – your new provider may ask for it as part of the signing up process, or ask you to give them a call as soon as you have it. Once your new provider has the code, they will be able to get in touch directly with your old provider and ask them to transfer your number to their network.
Porting your number from one network to another doesn’t tend to take very long and the process is usually completed by the next working day. While you’re waiting for the transfer to happen, keep your old SIM card in your phone so you can continue to send and receive calls and texts.
Check your number has ported across
When your number has been ported over from your old network to your new one, you will find that your phone stops working (at least when you are away from wifi). It’s then time to pop your new SIM into your phone. It’s best to carry out a quick check to make sure everything works as it should, so make a phone call or get someone to give you a ring.
Contact numbers to request a PAC
The easiest way to request a porting authorisation code is either to request one via your online account or by texting PAC to 65075. (If you’d rather get a new phone number, you will need to follow a very similar process but instead get a service termination authorisation code by texting STAC to 75075.)
If you prefer to call your provider, perhaps to see what it might offer you in terms of a better deal, then you should find your provider’s number below.
- EE – Call 150 from an EE phone or 0795 396 6150 from any other phone
- O2 – Call 202 from an O2 phone or 0344 809 0222 from another mobile or landline
- Vodafone – Call 191 from a Vodafone mobile or 033 3304 0191 from another phone
- Three – Call 333 from a Three phone or 0333 338 1001 from any other phone
- Virgin Mobile – Call 789 from a Virgin handset or 0345 6000 789 from another phone
- BT Mobile – You can call 150 from a BT Mobile phone or 0800 800 150 from any phone
- giffgaff – giffgaff suggests that you use the Text-to-Switch service or log into your giffgaff account to request a PAC
- Sky Mobile – Call 03300 412 524 from any number
- SMARTY – Request a PAC from the dashboard in your SMARTY account or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a call back
- VOXI – Call 0808 005 7451 from any phone or sign in to your VOXI account and click on Leave VOXI
- Tesco Mobile – Call 4455 from your Tesco Mobile handset or 0345 301 4455 from another phone
- Plusnet Mobile –You can call 500 from a Plusnet Mobile phone or 0800 079 1133 from any other number
- iD Mobile – Call 7777 from an iD Mobile handset or 0333 003 7777 from any other phone
- Lebara Mobile – Call 5588 from your Lebara Mobile handset or 020 3059 0304 from another number
Keeping your number when upgrading with the same provider
If you’re upgrading to a new phone but keeping with the same network, then there’s no need to worry about a PAC. If you’re keeping the same SIM card then you don’t have to do anything at all – other than perhaps ticking a ‘I want to keep my number’ box as you place your order.
If you do have to use a new SIM for your new handset, then the process of switching your number over is still going to be pretty quick and painless. Your provider will talk you through what to do and it’s unlikely to take more than about half an hour. Just make sure to back up your contacts before you switch over.
Frequently asked questions
Can I request a PAC online?
Yes, you should be able to request a PAC by logging into your online account on your provider’s website.
Will I lose service when my number ports to a new network?
You may briefly experience a loss of service when your mobile number ports to a new network, but this should last no longer than a few minutes.
Can I still keep my number if I’m moving to a SIM-only deal?
The process of using a PAC code to transfer your mobile number from one network to another is exactly the same whether you’re getting a new handset or switching to a SIM-only plan. If you are moving to a new provider but plan on keeping the same handset, check to make sure it isn’t locked to your current network. Any phones purchased after December 2021 will not be locked.
What happens if my PAC expires?
PACs expire after 30 days, but if you’ve not managed to use it in this timeframe you can simply request a new one.
How do I get a PAC via text?
Text PAC to 65075 and your provider will text you back with a code within a minute.