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Porting Your Mobile to a New Network

Porting Your Mobile to a New Network

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Last updated: 20 May 2020

Our phone numbers have become a huge part of our identity, they’re us in numerical form: a tag. They’re how everyone in our network knows us, and how we’re connected to so many aspects of our lives. It’s been that way for a while.

So when we take out a new mobile phone deal, or get a new SIM-only deal on a new network, it feels like we’re stuck: we don’t want to depart with our beloved number (it took us long enough to remember it!).

Thankfully, you can port your mobile phone number over to a new network by using a PAC code (Porting Authorisation Code) and the good news is that it’s pretty simple. Here’s what to know:

The Break-Up: Requesting a PAC code

This is breaking up with your current network. You need to notify them that you are switching networks (you’ve moved on) though want to keep your mobile number (but I’m keeping the dog). To do this you will need to request a PAC code, which usually consists of 3 letters and 6 numbers. This PAC code is important as this is what identifies your number to the new network.

Your current network will likely try to tempt you into staying with them by offering you a new package (I’ve changed). Consider it thoroughly and whether it could work for you. Use a price comparison site like ours to compare mobile phone deals with what they’ve offered you, in order to find your perfect match.

If you decide to move on to a new contract or SIM-only plan, then the next step is to purchase your new deal (it’s over and I mean it). A caveat here: even if your current network is bit stroppy about you leaving, they are still legally obliged to provide you with a PAC code.

The New Era: Sending the PAC Over

To get your old number ported over, all you then need to do is provide your new network with the PAC code. Once they have it you can sit back and relax, as it’s now down to the professionals; they will contact your old network to inform them that they’re going to make the switch. It’s really very straightforward! Your new network should also send you a SIM with a temporary number, so you can start using your great new mobile phone deal with your great new handset whilst waiting for your great old number.

How Long Does It Take?

Porting over your mobile number has got much quicker over the years, but overall times can still vary. You may be lucky and get your old number back within an hour, or it could take several business days. The reason for the variability is down to a number of factors, such as time of day of PAC activation and network connections, among others. Our advice is to ask your mobile network directly whether they can give you a time frame – they may be able to shed some light on any conditional circumstances. You should not be waiting an unreasonably long for your old number to be successfully ported and if you are then make sure you contact you network to find out what’s happening.

You can assist the process by keeping your old SIM in your phone, which will come up with SOS at the top once the porting has been successful. Then all you need to do is restart your phone and hey presto! You’re back with your old number.

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Is There Anything Else I Should Know?

If you are leaving a network, you need to ensure you have fulfilled the obligations of your phone contract. If you haven’t, then make sure you read our advice on cancelling your contract early. It’s also worth knowing that PAC codes are only valid for 30 days, so we suggest notifying your new network in good time and having a new mobile phone deal lined up. And finally – though we look forward to the day this happens – unfortunately you cannot transfer international numbers, porting works only between UK networks.

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Danny Lord

Author: Danny Lord

Danny is our Editor-in-Chief, and has been writing news and guides for comparison sites for the last five years.

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