How to keep the same phone number when switching networks

A mobile phone user

If you need to transfer (AKA port) your phone number when changing mobile network, here are the steps you should take.

Switching to a new mobile network? Whether you’re getting a sweet new handset with your contract, or just getting a SIM only deal, it’s reassuring to know you can keep your old number.

It’s also super-easy to do, due to Ofcom’s ‘Text-to-Switch’ scheme. So here’s how to port your mobile number simply, and for free, step by step.

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Step #1: Text or call your provider to get a PAC

First off, you need to get a porting authorisation code (PAC). This is a code made up of three letters followed by six numbers, which allows you to transfer your mobile number to a new network.

The simplest way to get this is text ‘PAC’ to 65075. You should receive this more-or-less immediately, but it may take up to two hours.

Alternatively, you can use your network’s app or website and log into your account. You should be able to request your PAC there.

And if you want to go old school, you can call your network to get your PAC.

Your PAC will be valid for 30 days.

Step #2: Contact your new network to give them the PAC

Next, you need to get in touch with the network you’re joining. They’ll take care of transferring your number from there and will even cancel the service with the network you’re leaving.

This will usually happen the next working day after you’ve given them your PAC.

In the meantime, keep your old SIM in your handset, and carry on using it as usual.

Step #3: Check your new SIM works and the new number has been ported over

On the day of the switch, try your new SIM in your phone. Call somebody up or ask them to give you a buzz. If it works, you’ve been successfully transferred.

And that’s it! Just three steps and you’re done.

Contact numbers to get your PAC from your network

If you’d like to speak to your mobile company rather than use ‘Text-to-Switch’, here are the networks’ contact numbers. Most networks have a bespoke number to call from within the network or a separate number if you’re calling from a landline or another network.

Get your PAC from BT Mobile

  • Call 150 from a BT Mobile phone
  • Call 0800 800 150 from any other mobile or landline

Get your PAC from Ecotalk

Ring 033 3800 5500 from any UK mobile or landline.

Get your PAC from EE

  • Call 150 from an EE phone
  • Call 079 5396 6250 from any other mobile or landline

Get your PAC from giffgaff

giffgaff doesn’t have customer support helplines. To get a PAC from giffgaff, log into your account online.

Get your PAC from ID Mobile

  • Call 7777 from an ID Mobile phone
  • Call 033 3003 7777 from any other mobile or landline

Get your PAC from Lebara

  • Call 5588 from a Lebara mobile.
  • Call 020 7031 0791 from any other mobile or landline

You can also request a PAC via Lebara’s web form.

Get your PAC from O2

  • Call 202 from an O2 phone
  • Call 034 4809 0222 from any other mobile or landline

Get your PAC from Plusnet Mobile

  • Call 500 from a Plusnet Mobile phone
  • Call 080 0013 2632 from any other mobile or landline

Get your PAC from Sky Mobile

Call 033 0041 2639 from Sky Mobile phones, phones on other networks and landlines.

Get your PAC from SMARTY

SMARTY doesn’t have customer service helplines. To get your PAC, log into your SMARTY account.

Get your PAC from Tesco Mobile

  • Call 4455 from a Tesco Mobile phone
  • Call 034 5301 4455 from any other mobile or landline

Get your PAC from Three

  • Call 333 from a Three phone
  • Call 033 3338 1001 from any other mobile or landline

Get your PAC from Virgin Mobile

  • Call 789 from a Virgin Mobile phone
  • Call 034 5600 0789 from any other mobile or landline

Get your PAC from Vodafone

  • Call 191 from a Vodafone phone
  • Call 033 3304 0191 from any other mobile or landline

Get your PAC from VOXI

To get your PAC from VOXI, go to the VOXI contact page, or request it via Twitter, Facebook Messenger or web chat.

Switching mobile network: Frequently asked questions

Will I lose mobile service when switching?

During the porting process, there should be minimal time without service. Your old number remains active after giving the new network your PAC, so you can still send and receive texts, and make and receive calls.

During the actual transfer process, you may lose service briefly – but for a minute or so at most. Then you’ll have service from your new SIM.

Should I cancel my contract with the network I’m leaving?

Ofcom’s ‘Text-to-Switch’ scheme means you don’t have to call the network you’re leaving to cancel. This is handy if you don’t want to have an awkward chat where they try to persuade you to stay.

Your new network will cancel your contract on receiving your PAC. They’ll also coordinate the end date for your old service and start date for the new one.

If you’re open to staying with your current network, but want a better deal, find out how to haggle with your mobile provider.

Here’s what to do if you’re thinking of getting out of your mobile contract early.

Can I transfer a disconnected number?

No, you can’t transfer disconnected numbers. This is why it’s best not to cancel your contract before porting your number.

What do I do if I’m buying online?

If you’re buying a new mobile or SIM online, there are only a few more steps to take. First, request your PAC from your existing network.

Then get a great mobile deal. You’ll be sent the phone or SIM once you’ve passed any necessary credit checks. Connect it with the instructions provided. You’ll now have a temporary phone number.

Now contact your new network. Tell them your temporary number, the number you wish to port and your PAC. The switch should then happen fairly quickly, possibly even the next working day.

What if I don’t want to keep my mobile number?

If you’re not particularly bothered about keeping your old number, you can instead text ‘STAC’ to 75075. This gets you a service termination authorisation code (STAC), which is also valid for 30 days. This gives you a chance to mull over your decision. Bear in mind that, while you’ll get a fresh start, you’ll also have to give your new number to all your regular contacts.