When buying a new handset or switching to a new mobile network, one of the most dreaded aspects is porting all your details and contacts over from your old phone. In the early days of mobile phones, this would have had to been done manually - a process which could take hours.

Now, networks have the ability to port everything from your old phone to the new , including contacts, pictures and even your number. If you have a unique, easy to remember number or if you’ve only just gotten to grips with remembering it, you may not want to change it when you switch networks. Here’s what to keep in mind if you want to keep hold of your existing number.

Upgrading phones

If you’re upgrading your phone whilst sticking to the same provider, the process of keeping your number is extremely simple. Whist you’ll be offered a new number, all you have to do to keep the old one is let your network know in-store. From there, it’ll be a straight transfer from your old to new phone, with the network sorting everything out for you. Provider’s such as Vodafone and O2 will even transfer all your contacts, pictures and other media across for you, which is made even easier if you’re getting the new version of the phone you had before.

Switching networks

If you’re switching networks, keeping hold of your old number requires more work, but is still easily doable. One of the first things you should consider doing once you’ve decided to move is received a PAC from your current network. PAC stands for Porting Authorisation Code and it is essential for transferring your current number over to a new network.

There are a number of circumstances which can require a PAC number. If you’re moving from a pay monthly contract to another pay monthly contract, you’ll need one in order to move your number over. Similarly, if you’re moving from a pay as you go contract to a pay monthly, you’ll need a PAC for that process as well. The only situation where you wouldn’t need a PAC to keep your number when switching is if you’re moving from a pay as you go contract to another. In this case, all you need to do is switch your SIM card from your old phone to the new one.

In order to obtain a PAC number, simply contact your current network. They are legally obliged to provide you with one or tell you why they can’t for any reason, so this process should be simple. From there, you’ll have 30 days to use the code before it becomes invalid, so it’s important to pass the code onto your new network as soon as possible. You can do this as you’re buying your phone if you have the code ready, making the process even quicker.

One essential thing to remember is to obtain the PAC before you terminate your current service. Otherwise, you won’t be able to transfer your number.

Will you lose service?

With more and more people choosing to transfer their numbers to their new phones, the length of time the average customer spends without service is always decreasing. Currently, you can expect to wait up to 2 days for your number to be fully transferred, as the networks need time to contact each other about switching. However, your number will still largely be active during this process, so any shortage you experience should be minimal.

Porting numbers when buying online

If you’re purchasing a new phone with a new network online, the process is largely the same. Different networks will have different ways with dealing with this when buying, but the main thing to remember is the PAC number you receive from your old network. This should be obtained before you buy so you can get the transfer working as soon as possible. Don’t be tempted into hurrying into buying a new phone without getting the code first, as this can make the transferring process harder than it needs to be.

Some networks will allow you to enter your PAC number when you first buy the phone, which lets them know that you want to transfer your old number. For others, you may need to wait until you receive the phone and activate it. From there, you can quote your PAC number to your new network along with the number you wish to port, which will then get the process started.

What you should remember:

  • Do not cancel your existing contract if you want to port your current number.
  • Your old contract will be cancelled automatically once you’ve sent your PAC number to your new provider.
  • Let your new provider know that you wish to port your number over when you first purchase a contract. That way, they’ll be aware of your intention before they sell you the new phone.
  • Your old network may transfer you to a temporary pay as you go contract when you leave, allowing you to transfer your old number at your leisure.