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How to transfer your mobile number to a new provider

By Phil Wilkinson-Jones | Friday, February 19th 2021

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 transferring your number from one mobile provider to another is a quick and 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 port authorisation code (PAC). This is a nine-digit alphanumeric code that is needed to help 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 by using Ofcom’s text to switch service. You may find that if you speak to a customer service agent, they will offer you discounts or other incentives to stay, and some of these deals may be worth considering as you probably won’t find them elsewhere. If you’re determined not to be swayed with offers to stay, then it may be easier just to use the text number.

Mobile phone providers are obliged to give you a PAC immediately if you request one over the phone and within a minute by text.

PAC codes 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 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 – a 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, it’s time to pop your new SIM into your phone. It’s best to carry out a quick check to make sure everything worked as it should, so make a phone call or get someone to give you a ring.

Your provider will notify you by text when the porting process has started and when it has been completed.

Contact numbers to request a PAC

The easiest way to request a port authorisation code is to text PAC to 65075. It’s free to text and your old provider should reply with your PAC within a minute. 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 (STAC) by texting STAC to 75075. Alternatively, you can call up your old provider and ask them for a PAC or STAC code. Here is how to get in touch with the UK’s biggest mobile providers.

  • EE – Call 150 from an EE phone or 07953966250 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 033 333 81001 from any other
  • 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 using the text to switch service or logging 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 team@smarty.co.uk to request a call back
  • VOXI – Call 0808 004 5205 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 3014455 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 PAC codes – your provider is going to do most of the work for you. 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 code 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. Don’t worry if it is, there are ways to unlock your phone.

What happens if my PAC code expires?

PAC codes expire after 30 days, but if you’ve not managed to use it in this timeframe there’s no need to worry. You can simply request a new one and again, you’ll have 30 days in which to use it.

How do I get a PAC code via text?

Text PAC to 65075 and your provider will text you back with a PAC code within a minute.

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