PAC Codes: How to transfer your mobile number when switching networks
June 26th, 2013
How to transfer your existing mobile number to another network: a step-by-step guide to PAC Codes.
PAC Code Finder
Our "PAC Code Finder" takes you through the process of transferring your number between networks one step at a time.
Select your current network provider and the network that you wish to move to:
PAC Code Information & FAQs
If you’re switching network, your mobile network is legally obliged to provide you with a “PAC Code” so that you can transfer your number.
If you’re changing mobile phone network, you don’t need to change your phone number at the same time. In fact, it’s incredibly easy to keep your existing phone number and to transfer it to your new mobile network – it takes less than 24 hours and you simply need to ask for a “PAC Code”.
In this article, we outline what PAC codes are, how to obtain a PAC code from your current mobile network and how to use it to transfer your phone number to your new network.
What is a PAC Code?
A PAC (Porting Authorisation Code) Code allows you to change mobile phone network and to keep your existing phone number. It takes no more than 24 hours and you’ll experience no or minimal downtime during the transfer of the phone number. A PAC Code is free (your mobile operator cannot charge for it) and is normally 9 digits long (in the format ABC 123 123).
Should I use a PAC Code for SIM Only Tariffs?
Yes, if you’re moving to a SIM only tariff on another network.
A SIM-only tariff is an ultra-cheap mobile contract for people who already own their own handset. They’re ideal if you want access to a good value bundle of minutes, texts and internet whilst keeping your current phone. Providing you’re not currently tied into a contract, you can usually save between £180/year and £240/year by switching to a SIM-only tariff, whilst keeping the same phone number (see our guide to the best value SIM-only tariffs). When switching to a SIM-only tariff on a different network, you’ll need to use a PAC Code to move your number.
Note that if you are taking your existing handset to a different network, you should make sure it is unlocked. We’ve got comprehensive guides on how to unlock your iPhone, your Galaxy S2 or your BlackBerry from the UK’s major mobile operators.
I’m switching to 4G. Do I need a PAC Code?
If you are upgrading to a 4G tariff on a different mobile network, you will need a PAC Code to transfer your mobile number over.
The only exception to this rule is for Orange and T-Mobile customers who are moving to EE. Your number transfer will be processed internally without the need for a PAC Code. You should purchase your new EE price plan through the Orange Your Account and My T-Mobile webpages. If you are moving to EE from a different network, you’ll still need a PAC Code.
Can I transfer my number between Pay As You Go to Pay Monthly?
Yes. The process for moving between Pay Monthly and Pay As You Go tariffs is exactly the same.
Pay As You Go customers should be aware that they cannot transfer airtime credit between different mobile networks. You should try to use up your credit before transferring your phone number.
I’m staying on the same network. How do I transfer my number?
The process is different if you are switching between two phones or two tariffs on the same mobile network. You will not need to use a PAC Code as the transfer can be processed internally within the network.
You should simply order your new phone or SIM card and then ask customer services to move your number over. Our PAC Code Finder tool will takes you through the process of ordering your new phone and transferring your number.
How do I obtain a PAC Code?
You need to call the customer services department of your current network.
For those on the major mobile networks, call the following numbers:
- 3 (Three): 333 from your mobile (or 0843 373 3333 from a landline)
- EE4G: 150 from your mobile (or 07973 966 250 from a landline)
- O2 – Pay Monthly: 202 from your mobile (or 0844 809 0202 from a landline)
- O2 – Pay As You Go: 4445 from your mobile (or 0844 809 0222 from a landline)
- Orange – Pay Monthly: 150 from your mobile (or 07973 100 150 from a landline)
- Orange – Pay As You Go: 450 from your mobile (or 07973 100 450 from a landline)
- T-Mobile: 150 from your mobile (or 0845 412 5000 from a landline)
- Vodafone: 191 from your mobile (or 0870 0700 191 from a landline)
If you’re on a mobile network that isn’t listed here, our PAC Code Finder tool will help to find the relevant contact details to obtain a PAC Code.
Am I legally entitled to a PAC code?
Yes, according to Ofcom’s ‘General Conditions of Entitlement’ (May 2011) Condition 18. All mobile phone companies must provide a PAC Code to consumers who request it within 2 days of the request. If they do not, they must explain why they cannot release a PAC Code to you. Reasons include:
- Failed security check. You must prove your identity when you call customer services. If you cannot do so, your network reserves the right not to release your PAC Code. This security check ensures that nobody can “steal” your phone number and intercept your phone calls.
- A PAC Code has already been issued. Once you’ve been issued with a PAC Code, it is valid for 30 days. Your network won’t issue a new PAC Code if one has already been issued and is still valid.
- You’re tied in to a contract. If you’re currently tied into the minimum term of your contract (i.e. the initial 24 months you signed up for), you’ll have to pay off the remainder of the contract to terminate it and to request a PAC Code. These charges will appear on your final bill.
Your network must issue you with a PAC code within 2 hours of your request. Typically you’ll be given the PAC code straight away over the phone but some networks will instead send PAC codes by text message.
How do I use a PAC Code?
You should order your new phone and SIM card now. Once it arrives, call the customer services of your new network and provide them with the PAC Code. They will handle the process of transferring your phone number.
To order your new phone or SIM card, select the network you are moving to:
|Select the network you are moving to:|
If your network isn’t listed here, see our PAC Code Finder tool.
How long is a PAC Code valid for?
You must provide the PAC Code to your new network within 30 days of issue. If your PAC Code has not been used after 30 days, it will expire and you will need to request a new one.
What happens if I don’t use my PAC Code before it expires?
If you do not use your PAC Code within 30 days, it will expire and nothing will happen. Your phone number will stay on the same network as before.
How long does it take to transfer a phone number between networks?
It should take no more than one business day from the day that you provide the PAC Code to your new network. During the one day “transfer window”, calls to your phone number will continue to be routed to your old network. For this reason, you shouldn’t cancel your existing contract until after the PAC Code has been used and the transfer has completed.
If you’re waiting for a new phone or SIM card to arrive through the post, we recommend waiting until you’ve received your new phone/SIM card before using your PAC Code. This ensures that your phone number will not transfer over before you have access to your new phone or SIM card. It will also minimise downtime.
Note that since May 2011, the process for transferring your phone number has been sped up. Some websites may refer to the process taking 2 working days (or even 5 working days) – they are out-of-date.
Will I lose any text messages or miss any phone calls when I use a PAC Code?
No, you shouldn’t. Usually there is very little downtime, if any, when you transfer a number using a PAC Code. Once you lose signal on your old phone/SIM card, you should turn on your new phone/SIM card. In my personal experience, number transfers normally happen overnight.
Can I take Pay As You Go credit with me to my new network?
No, unfortunately it is not possible to transfer Pay As You Go credit between networks. You should try to use up all of your credit before the number transfer usually takes place – any credit left on the day of the number transfer will be lost.
Will a PAC Code also transfer my saved text messages and contacts?
No. Once your phone number has been transferred over, your old SIM card will be disabled and will no longer work. You should manually transfer any contacts or text messages that you wish to keep.
Can I transfer my phone number to a friend or family member using a PAC Code?
Yes: there are no ownership name checks. You may give your PAC Code to a friend or family member so that they can use your phone number. Be aware that there may be privacy implications of doing this: for example calls which were intended for you would now go to somebody else.
Can I use a PAC code for landlines?
No. A PAC Code can only be used to transfer mobile phone numbers (where the first two digits of your phone number are 07).
- Transferring a landline number between homes: If you’re moving within the same area code, BT can transfer your landline number between homes. Otherwise, they may be able to divert calls. See the BT website for information on their Home Mover service.
- Transferring a number between landline and mobile: It isn’t possible to transfer a phone number from a landline to a mobile. As an alternative, we suggest setting up call forwarding or setting up an answer phone message to let people know you’ve changed number.
Where can I find a guide which takes me through the whole number transfer process step-by-step?
Select the network you wish to move to or use our PAC Code Finder:
- Moving to Three
- Moving to EE
- Moving to O2
- Moving to Orange
- Moving to T-Mobile
- Moving to Vodafone
- Moving to another network: Use the PAC Code Finder
Please select your new network:
|Select the network you are moving to:|
I'm a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005 with the aim of demystifying mobile technology for the rest of us.
Before writing about mobile technology, my background was in space & atmospheric physics. I have also worked in software development. Nowadays, I help companies to explain mobile technology to their customers. Please check out my portfolio or get in touch for more information. I'm also on Google+.