How to keep your old mobile number with a PAC code

Group of people on a train using their smartphones

There’s a tried and trusted system for moving phone numbers to a new network. It’s the PAC code (Porting Authorisation Code). The PAC system allows you to transfer your existing number to a new provider quickly and easily. 

A PAC  is a unique identifier that mobile networks use to move a phone number between a customer’s old and new contracts. It’s made up of 3 letters followed by 6 numbers. As an example, a PAC code looks like this: ABC123456

Yes. Ofcom, which regulates telecommunications in the UK, has set rules to make sure people can port their numbers in a straightforward way. PAC codes are the system UK networks use to do this. If you want to leave your old mobile phone number behind, you can use a STAC – service termination authorisation – code. When you give the STAC to your new provider, they’ll make sure your old service is terminated and your number isn’t brought with you.  

The easiest way to request your PAC code is by text message. The Text-to-Switch process was introduced in 2019 to make it easier to move your number to a new provider. It’s standard across all mobile networks. To get your PAC with Text-to-Switch:

  1. Text PAC to 65075 from your old mobile
  2. Receive your PAC within 1 minute, along with other essential information like how much you need to pay if you’re leaving your contract early

Some providers will also ask you to give your PIN or date of birth for security reasons.

Alternatively, you can request your PAC code by phone or via your online account with your old mobile provider. Here’s how to request a PAC from the UK’s major networks without using Text-to-Switch:

  • 02
    Call 0344 809 0202 or request your PAC through your online account.
  • Vodafone
    Call 191 from your old Vodafone number, log in to your online account or contact Vodafone through its live chat service. 
  • EE
    Call 150 from your old EE number or call 07953 966 250 from any phone. You can also request your PAC via your online account. 
  • Three 
    Call 333 from your old 3 number or 0333 338 1001 from any phone. If you’re calling from abroad, use +44 7782 333 333. You can also request your PAC via your online account or the 3 app.
  • giffgaff
    Request your PAC using your online account.
  • Lebara
    To get your Lebara PAC code, you’ll need to fill in a form on the Lebara website.
  • Virgin Mobile
    Virgin Mobile customers are now on 02. You can request your PAC code by logging into your account on the 02 website or by calling 0344 809 0202.

You don’t automatically get a PAC code. You’ll need to request it, but the process is quick. Whichever mobile network you’re with, your provider has to send you your PAC code within 2 working hours of your request. If you use Text-to-Switch or request via your online account, it’s even quicker – it will be with you within 1 working minute. 

Once you have your PAC code, you can give it to your new mobile network and they’ll take care of porting your old phone number to your new account. You’ll be notified when the switch is complete.

There is no charge for a PAC code. 

Once you’ve received your PAC code from your old provider, give it to your new network so they can port your number. Most networks have a dedicated area in your online account or app where you can enter your PAC.

If in doubt, contact your new provider and tell them you have a PAC code and want to bring your old phone number with you. 

In the past, some providers locked mobile devices so they only work on their network. However, selling locked handsets was banned in December 2021.

So in most cases, you won’t need to unlock your phone to use a PAC code. 

But if you’re using a PAC to change your old number to a new SIM for your old handset, you might need to unlock your phone if you bought it before December 2021. 

To do that, you need to request a PUK – Pin Unlocking Code – from your old provider. It’s usually free, but in some instances there may be a charge. 

Ofcom’s rules say that your switch must be complete within 1 working day. They also say that if you lose service for longer than 1 working day your provider should offer you compensation.

In most cases though, your switch will be much quicker than this. 

PAC codes last for 30 days. If you don’t use your PAC code within that time, it will expire. If you still want to port your number you can request a new PAC code in the same way you requested your original one.

Requesting a PAC code doesn’t cancel your contract. However, using your PAC code does cancel it. If you want to make sure your old contract ends, use your PAC code within 1 month. Otherwise, you’ll need to contact your old network or use a STAC code to terminate your old service. 

No. The PAC code can only port your phone number. 

You’ll still need to move the apps and data you want to keep. For some people, this is a welcome chance to spring-clean their data storage and move a minimal amount of essential apps and data manually. For others, it’s simpler to move everything across automatically using a cloud service like iCloud or Google Drive.  

Text-to-Switch won’t work if you have multiple phone numbers, for example, as part of a family plan. You’ll need to use your online account or phone your provider. 

First, check that you’ve entered it correctly. a PAC will have 3 letters followed by 6 numbers.

If the PAC is correct but still isn’t working, you can contact your old provider and ask for a new one. 

Share this article