What is a PAC code? (Porting Authorisation Code)

PAC is an abbreviation for "Porting Authorisation Code" and is usually referred to as a "PAC code" or "PAC number". It is a code with 3 letters followed by 6 numbers, generated by your current or previous mobile phone network to give permission for your new network provider to port your existing mobile phone number over to them.

Port Authorization Codes are valid for 30 days from the date they are issued. If you do not use your PAC code within this time it will expire and you will need to request a new one from your mobile network provider.

This is part of the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) framework setup by Ofcom to allow customers to keep their mobile telephone number when switching service providers.

How to get a PAC code?

You need to contact your current mobile network provider and request your PAC code in order to keep your number and transfer it to your new mobile service provider.

As of 1st July 2019, a new 'text-to-switch' procedure allows you to text PAC to 65075 free from your current network provider to start the porting process.

You will receive a reply by SMS text with your PAC code, which will be valid for 30 days. The text will also include important information about any charges or Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) credit balance (which you will lose if you don't use up before the switch).

Then give your PAC code to your new mobile network provider, who will arrange for your phone number to be ported within one working day.

Is a PUK code the same as a PAC code?

No, a PUK code is an Pin UnblocKing code to unblock a blocked SIM card. If a SIM has a PIN to unlock it then it will get blocked if the incorrect PIN code is entered in too many times.

If a SIM card has become blocked then you will need to contact your network provider to obtain a unique PUK code for your SIM to unblock it.

Note: a PUK code is NOT used to unlock your phone to allow using SIMs from other networks. Also there is no such thing as a PUC or PAK code - these are just mix-ups of the PUK and PAC acronyms.

What happens if I don't use my PAC code before it expires?

Nothing. Your mobile service with your current network provider will continue as before.

However, if you still want to switch service providers and keep your mobile phone number, then you will need to request a new PAC code, which will again be valid for another 30 days from the date it is issued.

Can I transfer my mobile number later?

Yes you should be able to transfer your old number to your new network provider at any time even after you have received a new number. There is no set time limit to when you can do this, but you must request and use your PAC code before your old account is closed to keep your phone number, and use your PAC within the 30-day expiry period.

Can I switch and get a new mobile number?

Yes. Any time you sign up with a new mobile network provider, you get a new phone number by default, if you do not port over your existing mobile number.

As of the 1st July 2019, it is even easier to switch and get a new mobile number thanks to a STAC (Service Termination Authorisation Code).

Simply text STAC to 75075 from your current network provider to close your mobile account and terminate the service. This takes away the hassle of having to call up and speak to your current provider if you simply want to leave.

You will receive an SMS text with important information and any amount due or Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) credit balance (which you will lose if you don't use up before the account is closed).

How do I find out when my contract ends?

If you are not sure whether you are still in contract with your current mobile network, simply text INFO to 85075 to receive an SMS text message reply containing this information, including any charges to pay to end your contract early if you are still within the contract period. Alternatively contact your mobile service provider who will be able to provide you this information.

What happens when your mobile phone contract ends?

Once the minimum term of your mobile contract finishes then you switch to paying month-by-month with the option to change to a new contract or switch to another mobile network provider at any time. Remember to request your PAC code if you wish to keep your mobile phone number.

Do I have to give notice when switching mobile networks?

As of the 1st July 2019, under new Ofcom rules, mobile providers are banned from charging for notice periods running after the switch date, when you give your new provider your PAC (Porting Authorisation Code) or STAC (Service Termination Authorisation Code) number.

This means you won't have to pay your old and new mobile providers at the same time, as long as you have finished your contract period with your old provider.

If however, you are still in contract then you will likely have to pay an early termination charge to switch within this period. Check your contract for more information.

Does a PAC code cancel your mobile contract?

Yes, using a PAC code to transfer your mobile number to another network will cancel your contract and close your account.

Please note that if you are still within your contract period then you will usually have to pay for early termination which is normally the total bills for the remaining months. Check your contract for the terms and conditions.

Important: Do NOT cancel your mobile contract before switching, otherwise you may lose your existing phone number and be unable to port it over. When you give your new network provider your PAC code, your old billing account will be closed automatically when your number is successfully ported over.

What happens when you port a mobile number?

When you provide your PAC code to your mobile service provider, they will give you a date when the transfer will take place.

On that day you new temporary number will stop working and your old mobile number will become active on your new SIM card.

Note: You may temporarily lose network signal for a short period of time. If this happens, turn your phone off and on again until the service is restored.

How long does it take to transfer a mobile number?

You should receive your PAC code either immediately or within two working hours. Once you have given your PAC code to your new mobile network provider, they should complete the number porting process within 2 working days or sooner.

How many times can a mobile number can be ported?

There is no limit to how many times you can port your mobile phone number. You can keep taking your mobile number with you whenever you switch network providers, and can even port it back to your original mobile network that first issued you the phone number.

Can I be refused my PAC code?

Provided that the account and number belong to you and have not been cancelled, there shouldn't be a reason why you cannot get your Porting Authorisation Code (PAC).

Under the communications regulator, Ofcom, the rules require service providers to issue you with a PAC immediately over the phone or within two working hours by text message, unless there is a valid reason for why it cannot be issued.

Your provider shouldn't refuse to issue a PAC if you have any outstanding bills or charges to pay. These charges should be included in your final bill after the number port has taken place and should be settled according to the terms of your contract.

Can I transfer my mobile number to the same network?

Not normally, since PAC codes were intended for transferring your mobile number between different networks providers. However, first ask your current service provider if they will internally transfer your number on to a new contract or PAYG (Pay-As-You-Go) account. If they won't then it is possible to temporarily port your number to a PAYG SIM card on another network using a PAC code, and then switch it back to your original mobile provider in the same way.

Can I transfer my PAYG pre-pay credit balance?

It's not possible to transfer your PAYG (Pay-As-You-Go) pre-pay credit from a SIM on one network provider to another.

Any credit that you don't use will be lost when you port your number across because the old mobile account gets closed automatically. Therefore it is advisable to use your credit or donate it to charity before porting your number.

Can I check mobile signal coverage in my area?

Yes, Ofcom provide a mobile signal checker to check your location for the signal availability of voice, 3G, 4G, and 5G services from the four main UK network operators (EE, O2, Three, Vodafone).

Since all the other mobile phone operators in the UK are provisioned over one of the above networks, you can use the information to find out coverage for any mobile service provider once you know which underlying network they use.

What is Ofcom?

In the United Kingdom, Ofcom (The Office of Communications) is the independent telecommunications regulator that directs fixed-line telephone providers, mobile phone providers and broadband internet service providers to offer number portability under the code of practice for Porting Authorisation Code rules and Migration Authorisation Code regulations.