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PUK code - How to find it and unlock your phone

You need a PUK code to unlock your phone, but how does it work and where do you find it? Here’s what you need to know.

woman using mobile phone

A PUK (personal unlocking key) code is a code that helps you unlock your mobile phone. If you type in the incorrect PIN three times, you might end up locking your phone. Don’t worry – the PUK code is all you need to unlock your phone.

Your PUK is a unique sequence of 8 digits that you enter into your phone to unlock it. Your PUK code can also be used when switching mobile provider.

Some devices are locked to one network and need to be unlocked before they will work on another network. This is less common than it used to be and tends to affect older phones. If your device is locked and you want to change networks, you'll need the PUK code.

This is also known as a NUC - Network Unlocking Code. Once your phone is unlocked, you can use a SIM from any network.

What is the difference between a PUK and PAC code?

A PAC code is not the same as a PUK code. If you’re switching providers and want to keep your current phone number, you need a PAC (porting authorisation code). Your PAC is a sequence of numbers that you give to your new provider when you switch. You can get it from your current provider via your online account or by calling customer services. You can also get it by texting ‘PAC’ to 65075. Your PAC is valid for 30 days.

How to get your PUK code and unlock your phone

Your PUK code is the 8-digit code on the back of the piece of plastic that your SIM card came in. If you’ve thrown the packaging away, you can contact your network provider and ask for your PUK code.

Can you get PUK code without calling customer service?

The process of getting a PUK code differs between network providers. It can usually be done from your online account on your mobile network’s website or you may need to ring customer services. Some providers might send it via text. Check with your network provider and see what the steps are.

Getting a PUK from your network

How to get your PUK code:

Network How to get your PUK code
"To get your PUK code, call Vodafone on 191 (0333 304 0191). When asked why you’re calling, say “I need a PUK code”."
"To get your PUK, visit the O2 site and enter your mobile number."
"Log in or register for My EE,,From the menu, select ‘Manage device’,,Scroll down to ‘Unblock SIM (PUK code)’,,Select ‘Show PUK code’"
"To request your PUK code from giffgaff, login to your account and go to the PUK Retrieval page."
"You can find your Lycamobile PUK code on your SIM card holder. ,,If you no longer have it, you can call Lycamobile customer services on 020 713 20322."
"If you need a Lebara PUK code, call +44 207 0310791 for customer service."

Table showing how to get your PUK code from your mobile network

Is there a limit to how many times you can enter the PUK code incorrectly?

The limit on entering an incorrect PUK code differs across providers. For example, with Vodafone and O2 the limit is 10 times. But try not to reach the limit. If you enter the wrong PUK code too many times, your SIM card can become permanently blocked and may need to be replaced. This means you will lose all the data on it.

Is a PUK code the same as a NUC code?

NUC stands for network unlocking code and is used for devices that are locked to one network provider. These days, many phones come unlocked, but if yours is locked and you want to change providers, you’ll need to contact your current provider. Some people use PUK and NUC interchangeably.

Once your handset is unlocked, you’re free to compare SIM only deals and switch to the data and call package that suits you.

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