Keep your mobile phone number when switching providers

Lynn Wright / 11 February 2016

Want to change mobile phone networks but worried about losing your mobile phone number? Follow our step-by-step guide to keeping your mobile number when switching phone providers.

Transferring your mobile phone number to a new provider’s network is straightforward, and should take only one working day.

To start the process, you’ll need a Porting Authorisation Code (PAC), which you can get for free from your existing provider. Here’s what to do:

1. Sign up with a new network

Decide which mobile network provider and tariff you wish to switch to and sign up for their services. They’ll send you a new SIM card for your phone. 

Later in the process, once your number has been porting to your new provider’s network, you can swap out your old SIM card for the new one. For the moment though, keep it somewhere safe.

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2. Get a PAC

Call your current provider and ask for a Porting Authorisation Code (PAC). Although they may offer a new tariff in the hope that you’ll stay a customer, Ofcom regulations mean your PAC must be given to you immediately over the phone or within two hours by text message.

Consisting of three letters and six numbers, your PAC allows your phone number to be used on a new provider’s mobile phone network. Write your PAC down and keep it somewhere safe.

TIP: Don’t cancel your existing contract before getting a PAC. If you do so, you won't be able to keep and transfer your mobile phone number. If you don’t use your PAC and your old contract expires, your number will be disconnected and you will lose it forever.

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3. Give your PAC to your new provider

Contact your new network provider and give them your PAC. Don’t delay – your PAC is valid for 30 days, after which it expires and you’ll need to request a new one.

Once your new provider has the code, they’ll schedule the switchover and arrange cancellation of your old network. Typically, this should happen on the next working day.

You can keep your old SIM card in your phone to make and receive calls while the switchover happens, although you’ll probably face some service interruption while the number is switched.

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4 Check your new SIM

Once the switchover is complete, your old SIM card will no longer work. Eject it from your phone, pop in the new SIM card and make a call to check that your mobile number has ported correctly.

TIP: Before signing up with a new mobile phone provider, make sure you’re free to switch from your current provider. Call your current provider and ask if you can move without early termination or cancellation charges.

TIP: Although contact details and messages are typically stored on the phone itself, you may want to check if there’s any vital information stored on your old SIM card before throwing it away. 

For more tips and useful information, browse our technology articles.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.