How to keep your mobile number when you switch SIMs

How to keep mobile number when you switch SIMs

If you’re switching networks, making your first move from contract to SIM Only, or you’ve found a better SIM Only deal to switch to, you’ll need to decide whether or not to keep your current phone number.

Rather than going through the hassle of changing your mobile number and telling all your contacts and other utility providers that you have switched, it is a lot easier to just keep your current number and ensure people can still contact you in the same way.

Whether you keep mobile number is up to you.

When you switch to a new provider, you need to get a security code from your current mobile network, pass it on to your new provider, and then simply wait for the transfer to complete.

It’s a surprisingly quick and painless process.

1. Request a PAC code from your current provider

The first step in keeping your mobile number when you switch providers is to get a PAC code. This is the numerical code needed to transfer your number to a different mobile network operator, and is a security measure to prevent unauthorised moves.

This can be done over the phone, or in some cases, as with Giffgaff, it can be done online.

As the PAC code is a regulated service, regardless of your mobile provider you should receive your code within a maximum of two hours.

You may be asked questions to confirm your identity for security reasons, which prevents your number being transferred without your permission. Calls are charged at standard network rates.

Simply find the details of your current provider in the following list and give them a ring to get your PAC code:

  • EE – Call 150 from an EE phone or 079 5396 6250 from any phone
  • Giffgaff – Get your PAC code by logging in and filling out this contact form
  • O2 – Call 202 from an O2 phone or 034 4809 0222 from any phone
  • Plusnet Mobile – Call 500 from a Plusnet phone or 080 0013 2632 from any phone
  • Sky Mobile – Call 033 0041 2639 from any phone
  • Tesco Mobile – Call 4455 from a Tesco Mobile phone or 034 5301 4455 from any phone
  • Three – Call 333 from a Three phone or 033 3338 1001 from any phone
  • Virgin Mobile – Call 789 from a Virgin Mobile phone or 034 5600 0789 from any phone
  • Vodafone – Call 191 from a Vodafone phone or 033 3304 0191 from any phone

Your PAC code expires after 30 days, so if you don’t get a chance to use it within that timeframe, you’ll need to contact your provider again to get a new code.

2. Give your PAC code to your new provider

To trigger your phone number transfer, simply give your PAC code to your new provider (by contacting them as above) and it will be started automatically. The two providers communicate with each other to handle the changeover, so there’s nothing more you need to do from your end once you have instigated the process.

Wait for your mobile number transfer to complete

How long it takes your number to transfer depends on the provider and the day of the week; weekend transfers take longer. In most cases you should expect the switch to be completed by the end of the next working day. During this time, you can still use your old SIM card as normal for calls and texts.

While you’re switching SIMs, you may experience loss of service for a few minutes towards the end of the process when your number is being transferred across. This is completely normal and you’ll be prompted to restart your handset, from which point you will be able to enjoy full service from your new provider.

3. Make sure everything works as expected

After you are prompted to reboot your phone, simply test your new service by making a phone call or sending a text message. Alternatively, you may want to ask someone to phone or text you.

On your phone’s homescreen, you should also see the name of your new provider either at the top or across the middle of the screen. In the unlikely event you experience any problems during or after the process of transferring your phone number, simply contact your new provider via the details provided in step one.

And that’s all there is to it! You’ve now successfully switched to a new SIM or mobile network while keeping your existing phone number.

MAIN IMAGE: Garry Knight/CC BY 2.0


Jenny is a technology writer, author and teacher based in the North West
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