If you’re on the lookout for a new mobile plan, you might be wondering what happens to your current number when you switch over. Fortunately, it’s up to you. Switching mobile providers without transferring your number over is a simple process. But there are a couple of extra steps involved if you opt to keep your current number. Here, we’ll outline the process for porting your mobile phone number to a new network.
For the most part, choosing to keep the same phone number when switching providers is a matter of convenience. After all, having to update everyone with your new number can be a total pain. But luckily, keeping your phone number isn’t as complicated as you might think.
In order to keep your mobile number when switching to a new phone, you’ll need to retrieve a PAC for your SIM card. PAC stands for Porting Authorisation Code, and it allows users to switch mobile networks without having to change phone numbers. It’s important to note that the PAC code is not the same as a PUK code (Personal Unblocking Key Code), which is used to unblock your device should you get accidentally locked out.
A PAC Code is nine digits, containing three letters and six numbers (e.g. XYZ123456).
If you want to switch networks but you don’t want to keep the same number, you’d instead have to request a STAC (Service Termination Authorisation Code).
You will have to request a PAC code from your current network provider. Each mobile network has its own process for getting a PAC code. For most providers, you can either apply using your online account, by calling a dedicated number, or simply by using Text-to-Switch. When you request a PAC code online or via text, your network will be required to generate your PAC code within 60 seconds of you making your request.
However, you can expect a longer process if you choose to request your PAC code by phoning your network, as the representative you speak to on the phone will very likely try to convince you to stick with your current network.
One of the reasons Ofcom advocated for the text to switch process is because networks would retain customers by offering them a variety of upgrade deals over the phone. Of course, if you’re happy to be coaxed into staying then you might get a great deal by phoning up. Just be sure to do your homework first so you know what a competitive phone deal looks like.
When you request your PAC code, you’ll be notified about any early exit fees you might face for terminating your contract ahead of its end date.
Remember, requesting your PAC code must be done before you officially terminate your contract. You’ll have 30 days to use the code before it expires, and if you change your mind, you can just let it expire without any consequences. Once you submit your PAC code to a new provider, however, there’s no turning back.
Most major providers will allow you to request a PAC code using your online account. But if you’d prefer to speak to someone, networks have specific numbers dedicated to PAC requests:
|Network||Call from network number||Call from any number|
|Asda Mobile||2732||0800 079 2732|
|BT||150||0800 800 150|
|EE||150||079 5396 6250|
|giffgaff||Online only||Online only|
|iD Mobile||7777||033 3003 7777|
|Lycamobile||322||020 7132 0322|
|O2||202||034 4809 0222|
|Plusnet||500||080 0013 2632|
|Sky Mobile||N/A||033 0041 2639|
|TalkTalk||2883||0345 172 0044|
|Tesco Mobile||4455||034 5301 4455|
|Three||333||033 3338 1001|
|Virgin Mobile||789||034 5600 0789|
|Vodafone||191||033 3304 0191|
|VOXI||N/A||N/A (Twitter, Facebook Messenger or online chat)|
In 2019, telecom regulator Ofcom introduced the Text-to-Switch initiative to make it quicker and simpler than ever for customers to switch mobile networks. It also prevents previous providers from being able to keep charging customers after a switch is complete. This is great news for consumers, as double-billing was a big issue in the past.
Through this system, all you need to do is send a text with the word PAC to the number 65075. Your current provider will then immediately respond with your PAC code, which you’ll submit when you sign up with your new provider.
If you want to switch and you’d like a new phone number, you can text STAC to 75075 instead.
If you have multiple numbers on the same account, regardless of whether you want to switch one or all of them, it’s probably best to call your provider directly to make the switch.
When you sign up for a new network online, you will see an option to enter a PAC code. If you can’t find this option on the sign-up page, don’t worry. You can still contact the new provider after you’ve signed up and get it sorted. This may be the better option if you want some time to get familiar with your new network before officially cancelling your previous account by submitting the PAC.
In order to get you up and running without any delays, your new network will provide you with a SIM that has a temporary number that you can use until your number has been successfully ported. This usually occurs within one or two working days of you providing the PAC.
With most major providers, you can submit your PAC code after signing up to a new plan online or over the phone.Frequently Asked Questions
No, it is completely free to switch mobile providers and maintain your number. However you should be wary of any fees you may be charged if you’re cancelling your contract early. If you’re requesting a PAC code over the phone, standard calling rates apply.
If your contract has already ended, your account with your current provider will remain active until you’ve submitted your PAC code to your new provider. Once this is done, your account will be automatically closed so you won’t need to contact your old provider.
If you’re still within your contract period, it’s a good idea to contact your provider after getting your PAC code to inform them that you’re switching to discuss any early exit fees.
So long as you’re currently signed up with a UK mobile provider, yes, anyone can do this and your current network can’t stop you. It can, of course, charge you if you’re leaving before your contract ends.
After submitting your PAC code and signing up with your new provider, you can expect the transfer to be complete within one business day. Most providers have a cut-off time between 3pm and 5:30pm for you to sign up if you want to be fully switched over the next day.
If you’re sticking with your current provider but changing your plan and you want to keep the same number, you won’t need to provide a PAC code. Simply call your provider and provide details of your current plan and the one you wish to move to, and it will be able to transfer your number.