PAC Codes: How to transfer your mobile number when switching networks
May 18th, 2016
How to transfer your phone number from one mobile network to another: a step-by-step guide to using a PAC code.
In the UK, it’s a straightforward process to transfer your phone number from one mobile network to another. It means you can change mobile network whilst keeping your current phone number, eliminating lots of hassle and ensuring you won’t miss incoming phone calls.
In order to move your phone number from one network to another, you’ll need to use something called a PAC Code. It’s always free to transfer your phone number between mobile networks and the whole process should only take one working day.
Step-By-Step Instructions: Transferring Your Phone Number
For a step-by-step guide on how to transfer your phone number, please select your current mobile network followed by the mobile network you’re planning to join:
|PAC Code Finder: Step-By-Step Instructions|
In the rest of this article, we’ll discuss the procedure behind transferring your mobile phone number. We’ll show you how to obtain and how to use a PAC Code. We’ll also discuss the time limits on a PAC Code and your legal entitlement to it as per the Ofcom regulations. Finally, we’ll look at some special cases (e.g. transferring a phone number within the same network or transferring a phone number that’s on Pay As You Go).
- 1 What is a PAC Code?
- 2 Obtaining a PAC Code
- 3 Using your PAC Code
- 4 Your Legal Entitlement to a PAC Code
- 5 Special Cases
- 6 More Information
What is a PAC Code?
In the UK, PAC Codes (Porting Authorisation Codes) are used to transfer your mobile number from one network to another. There are three simple steps to moving your phone number:
- Start by obtaining a PAC Code from your old network. See the contact details below for information on how to request a PAC Code. It’s always free to obtain a PAC Code. It’s your legal entitlement and you must be provided it within two hours of your request.
- Order your new phone or SIM card. Get this from your new mobile network. You’ll initially be given a temporary phone number on which you can make sure everything is working properly (e.g. that you’re getting satisfactory coverage from the new network).
- Use the PAC Code by giving it to your new network. Give the PAC Code to your new network to confirm the transfer of your phone number. You can do this either through an online form or over the phone. After submitting your PAC Code, your phone number transfer will normally be scheduled for the next working day.
For step-by-step instructions on how to use a PAC Code, please select your current mobile network followed by the mobile network you’re planning to join:
|PAC Code Instructions|
Note: PAC Codes are sometimes confused with PUK Codes (Personal Unblocking Key Codes). The two codes serve a very different purpose. A PUK code is required if your handset becomes blocked (e.g. if you accidentally enter your PIN number incorrectly three times). When moving networks, be sure to ask for a PAC Code rather than a PUK Code.
Obtaining a PAC Code
Contact Details: Getting a PAC Code
The first step in transferring your mobile number is to obtain a PAC Code from your current mobile network. A PAC Code is nine-digits long and will authorise the transfer of your phone number to another network. A PAC Code contains three letters followed by six numbers (e.g. ABC 123 456).
You can obtain a PAC Code by contacting the customer services department of your current network:
|Phone Number for Obtaining a PAC Code|
|Call 150 from your EE handset|
or 07953 966 250 from another phone. See full contact details.
|Call 202 for O2 Pay Monthly, 4445 for O2 Pay As You Go|
or from another phone: 0344 8090202 (Pay Monthly), 0344 8090222 (PAYG). See full contact details.
|Call 150 for Orange Pay Monthly, 450 for Orange Pay As You Go|
or from another phone: 07973 100 150 (Pay Monthly), 07973 100 450 (PAYG). See full contact details.
|Call 333 from your Three handset|
or 0333 338 1001 from another phone. See full contact details.
|Call 150 from your T-Mobile handset|
or 020 7362 0200 from another phone. See full contact details.
|Call 191 from your Vodafone handset|
or 03333 040 191 from another phone. See full contact details.
|Show contact details for more networks... (e.g. BT, giffgaff, iD, Tesco & Virgin)|
When you’re calling your mobile network to ask for a PAC Code, you’ll normally be passed to the customer retentions team. Remember: it’s your legal right to be able to get a PAC Code. Your mobile network needs to provide it within 2 hours of your request. If they make it difficult, please remind them of their legal obligations.
Once issued, your PAC Code is valid for up to 30 days. You should keep it somewhere safe and secure (as anyone with the PAC Code can initiate the number transfer). At this stage, you shouldn’t cancel the plan on your old network. This will be done for you automatically when you finally use the PAC Code. Until then, your old plan needs to remain active until the phone number transfer has finally been completed.
Using your PAC Code
After getting your PAC Code, the next step is ordering your new phone or SIM card. Please select the mobile network you’re planning to join:
|Please select the network you're moving to:|
|Other Popular Networks: giffgaff, iD Mobile, Talkmobile, TalkTalk Mobile, Virgin Mobile|
When your new phone or SIM card arrives, spend a little bit of time to make sure everything works properly (e.g. make sure you’re getting satisfactory coverage from your new network). Once you’re happy to move your phone number over, contact your new mobile network and give them your PAC Code. After the PAC Code has been given to your new network, it will not be possible to reverse the phone number transfer.
Contact Details: Using a PAC Code
After verifying to make sure everything works properly on your new mobile service, you can provide the PAC Code to your new mobile network to complete the phone number transfer.
The contact details for providing your PAC Code are as follows:
|Contact Details for Providing a PAC Code|
|Provide your PAC Code to EE (ee.co.uk)|
or call 150 from your EE handset / 07953 966 250 from another phone. See full contact details.
|Provide your PAC Code to O2 (o2.co.uk)|
or call 202 from your O2 Pay Monthly handset, 4445 from your O2 Pay As You Go handset
from another phone: 0344 8090202 (Pay Monthly), 0344 8090222 PAYG). See full contact details.
|Provide your PAC Code to Orange (ee.co.uk)|
or call 150 from your Orange Pay Monthly handset, 450 from your Orange Pay As You Go handset
from another phone: 07973 100 150 (Pay Monthly), 07973 100 450 PAYG). See full contact details.
|Provide your PAC Code to Three (three.co.uk)|
or call 333 from your Three handset / 0333 338 1001 from another phone. See full contact details.
|Provide your PAC Code to T-Mobile (ee.co.uk)|
or call 150 from your T-Mobile handset / 020 7362 0200 from another phone. See full contact details.
|Provide your PAC Code to Vodafone (vodafone.co.uk)|
or call 191 from your Vodafone handset / 03333 040 191 from another phone. See full contact details.
|Show contact details for more networks... (e.g. BT, giffgaff, iD, Tesco & Virgin)|
Note: We don’t recommend using your PAC Code if you plan to cancel the new contract or if you want to return your new handset. There will be added complications if your phone number has already been transferred to the new network.
Expected Timeframe for Number Transfer
Once you’ve given the PAC Code to your new mobile network, your phone number transfer will normally be scheduled for the next working day. This is providing you submit your PAC Code before the daily cut-off time (between 3pm and 5.30pm depending on your mobile network). If you submit your PAC Code after the daily cut-off time, you’ll need to wait an additional working day for your phone number to transfer.
Phone number transfers can only take place on a UK working day. They don’t take place over the weekend or on English bank holidays. Assuming no bank holidays, the following table shows when you can expect your phone number transfer to take place:
|Day of Request*||Day of Number Transfer|
* Day of Request: You’ll need to provide the PAC Code before the daily cut-off time (3pm to 5.30pm depending on your network). If the PAC Code is provided after the daily cut-off time, you’ll need to wait an additional working day for the transfer to take place.
You must be in the UK on the day of the phone number transfer.
Continuity of Service
Whilst you’re waiting for the phone number transfer to take place, incoming phone calls on the number will continue being routed to your old mobile network.
On the day of your phone number transfer, your new mobile network will take control of the phone number. Simultaneously, your old mobile network will release the phone number and your account on that mobile network will also be closed.
When the transfer happens, you’ll momentarily lose coverage on both of the networks. You’ll need to restart your handset on the new network for the coverage to come back and for the number transfer to be completed. After a restart, incoming phone calls should be routed to your new mobile network.
Throughout the process, there should be little or no loss of service. This is because you’ll continue receiving coverage on your old network until the transfer takes place.
Expiry of PAC Codes
Your PAC Code will expire 30 days after issue. If you don’t use your PAC Code within the 30-day window, nothing will happen and your account on the old network will stay open as before. In reality, we’d typically recommend using your PAC Code within 26 days of it being issued (this is to allow for the expected timeframe for transfer).
If your PAC Code has already expired, you can request a new one using the instructions above.
Instant Messaging Apps
If you’re using an instant messaging app (e.g. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or Snapchat), your temporary phone number may continue to show even after you’ve used your PAC Code. To fix this, you should use the ‘number change’ feature built in to your messaging application:
- WhatsApp: Changing your phone number
- Facebook Messenger: Changing your phone number
- Snapchat: Setting your phone number
iMessage & FaceTime on iPhone
If you’re using an iPhone, you may experience problems with iMessage and FaceTime after transferring your phone number with a PAC Code.
If you’re moving your phone number to a new iPhone, you might see your temporary phone number continuing to show in iMessage and FaceTime. To resolve this, you’ll first need to disable iMessage and FaceTime on your iPhone (you can do this by going to Settings > Messages > iMessage and Settings > FaceTime). After doing this, go to Settings > Phone > My Number and enter your correct phone number there (this should probably be the number you transferred using a PAC Code). You should then restart your iPhone, after which you can re-enable iMessage and FaceTime.
If you’re moving your phone number from an iPhone to a non-Apple device (e.g. to a Samsung Galaxy or Android), you may find you stop receiving messages from people with an iPhone. To fix this, you’ll need to de-register your old iPhone from iMessage and FaceTime. If you still have access to your old iPhone, go to Settings > Messages > iMessage and turn the option off. You should also go to Settings > FaceTime to turn FaceTime off. If you no longer have access to your iPhone, you can de-register iMessage through the Apple website.
Your Legal Entitlement to a PAC Code
As per Ofcom regulations, you’re legally entitled to transfer your phone number to another network. The right is enshrined within Ofcom’s General Conditions of Entitlement (May 2015, clause 18). Ofcom is the UK’s regulator for telecom services.
According to the General Conditions of Entitlement, you must be given a PAC Code within 2 hours of your request. In most cases, the PAC Code will be provided immediately over the phone. However, it could also be sent as a SMS text message. If the PAC Code is being sent by SMS, the network must still provide it within the two-hour time limit.
There are only a couple of reasons why your network can refuse a request for a PAC Code:
- Failed security check. You’ll need to prove your identity when contacting customer services to request a PAC Code. If you aren’t able to adequately prove your identity, the mobile network reserves a right not to issue you with a PAC Code. The stringent security checks make sure no-one is able to “steal” your phone number. If you have a non-registered Pay As You Go account, you may be asked for information about previous top-ups and usage.
- A PAC Code has already been issued. Once a PAC Code has been issued, it’s valid for 30 days. Until the previous PAC Code expires, your mobile network will be unable to issue you with a new one.
- The account has already been closed. A PAC Code can only be issued if the account is still open and if the phone number still belongs to you. If you’ve already closed your account on the network, the number may have already been returned to the network. As it’s not possible to recover a phone number once it’s been returned to the network, you should keep your account open until the PAC Code is used. If you’re a Pay As You Go customer, you should be aware of your mobile network’s activity requirements.
If your network refuses to provide you with a PAC Code, they must inform you of the reasons why. Unpaid debt cannot be used as a reason not to issue you with a PAC Code. If you’re still within the minimum term of your contract, this also can’t be used as a reason not to provide you with a PAC Code. However, you may be charged an early termination fee on your final bill if you end your contract early.
Transferring Within The Same Network
A PAC Code is only used when moving your phone number from one network to another. If you’re staying on the same network but changing to a different tariff, it isn’t necessary to go through the PAC Code process. Instead, simply call the customer services department of your current network and request a phone number transfer inside of the network. You’ll need to provide details of both of your accounts.
|Please select your network and tariff type:|
|Other Popular Networks: giffgaff, iD Mobile, Talkmobile, TalkTalk Mobile, Virgin Mobile|
If you simply need to change the size of your SIM card, see our guide to getting a replacement Micro SIM or Nano SIM. The process for changing the size of your SIM card is even easier and won’t normally require a call to customer services.
Transferring a Pay As You Go Number
You should follow the normal PAC Code process when transferring a phone number that’s on Pay As You Go.
One extra thing that’s important to be aware of is you can’t transfer Pay As You Go credit from one network to another. Any credit remaining on your old account will automatically be forfeited on the day of the phone number transfer. For this reason, it’s normally a good idea to use up your credit before the date of the phone number transfer.
If you have a large amount of money remaining on your account, consider donating it to charity rather than spending it frivolously. You can donate money via text message to Cancer Research, the Red Cross and Save the Children. The minimum donation is typically around £3. You can also check directly with your favourite charity to see whether they’re able to accept donations by text message. There are some more ideas here on how to best use up your Pay As You Go credit.
Transferring to a SIM Only Deal
A SIM-only deal is an airtime-only contract where you get a new SIM card for your existing, unlocked smartphone.
Compared to traditional mobile contracts, a SIM-only deal will offer you much lower rates. You can normally expect to save in the region of £200/year with a SIM-only deal. For more information, see our full guide to SIM Only deals.
Select your SIM Only mobile network:
For SIM-only deals, the process of transferring your phone number is exactly the same. As an extra step, you should take care to make sure your handset is unlocked. If your handset is currently locked to a network, you’ll need to unlock it before using it on another network. For more information, see our in-depth guides to unlocking an iPhone and unlocking a Samsung Galaxy smartphone.
If you’re changing to a SIM-only deal, you should also make sure you order a SIM card of the right size. The guide here will help you to find out which size of SIM card is required by your smartphone.
Cancelling & Ending Your Contract
If you’re using a PAC Code to transfer your number to another network, the account on your old mobile network will close automatically once your phone number has been transferred over.
If you simply want to end your old contract without keeping the phone number, there’s no need to request a PAC Code. Instead, just call up your network and tell them you want to end your current contract. This is much easier than requesting a PAC Code (with the latter, the account stays open unless the PAC Code is actually used). In general, rather than cancelling your contract entirely, we recommend you instead move it over to a Pay As You Go network. This allows you to hold on to the phone number in case you want to use it again in the future.
Other Things To Know
There are several other things worth knowing about a PAC Code:
- It’s impossible to swap the phone number on two accounts. When porting a phone number in to a mobile network, the original number on that network will be lost. It isn’t possible to keep the original phone number (so you aren’t able to swap the phone number between networks).
- You can’t transfer a phone number that has already been lost. For instance, if you’ve already cancelled your contract or if your phone number has expired due to inactivity on Pay As You Go, the phone number will have been lost and can no longer be transferred.
- You can transfer ownership of a phone number with a PAC Code. When using your PAC Code, there is no check with regards to the account holder name on your old and new accounts. You can therefore transfer a phone number to someone else’s account (e.g. to friends or family). Please be aware of the possible privacy implications when choosing to do this: someone else will now have access to your incoming phone calls and text messages.
- Businesses can transfer up to 25 numbers using a PAC Code. Small businesses can use a PAC Code to transfer up to 25 phone numbers from one mobile network to another. Larger businesses wanting to transfer more than 25 phone numbers should contact their network for full details on the process to follow.
- A different system exists for transferring landline phone numbers. PAC Codes can only be used to transfer mobile phone numbers in the UK (these are UK phone numbers beginning with 07). If you want to transfer a landline phone number (beginning with 01 or 02), you should contact your landline phone provider to find out how to do this (e.g. BT, TalkTalk, Sky or Virgin).
For a step-by-step guide that takes you through the process of transferring a mobile number, please use our PAC Code Finder.
My passion is helping people to get the most out of their mobile phone. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005.
Aside from writing about mobile technology, my interests are in software development, digital marketing and physics. Outside of the blog, I work with numerous technology companies helping them to explain their product and helping them to market it to consumers. Please get in touch for more information.