Switching mobile phone provider

09 January 2015

Every year hundreds of thousands of consumers decide to switch to a new mobile phone provider.

Many will do this because they want a new handset or simply because they can save money with a new deal from someone else.

The following guide explains what you need to do if you want to switch your mobile phone service to a new provider.

Remember, you have a 14 calendar day period from the date you enter a new contract with a new provider in which you have a right to cancel your request to switch without being charged.

First, check whether you've been with your existing provider long enough to be able to switch cost free.

Most providers require a minimum service period or contract term before you can switch. If you want to change provider earlier than that then you may have to pay early termination charges.

If you bought your mobile phone with the service from your current provider, you should also have the option of keeping your current mobile phone.

However, it may be locked to your existing network.

Mobile providers have different policies and processes for unlocking phones. Some will only unlock your mobile after a certain period of time has passed and will charge a fee, while others will unlock it at any time for free.

Find out more in our guide to mobile phone locking and unlocking

Keeping your number when switching provider is called 'porting' your number.

You’ll need to contact your current provider and request a Porting Authorisation Code (PAC). This is a numerical code that you must then give to your new provider.

A PAC must be provided to you immediately over the phone or within two hours by text. Once you have a PAC, it is valid for 30 days. If it expires, you can request a new one. In some circumstances there may be a charge for porting.

Once you have given your new provider the PAC, they will notify your current provider of the port request, and your number should normally be ported and ready to use with your new services within one business day.

Don't forget that if you’re still in contract with your old provider, you may have to pay early termination charges.

If you don't wish to keep your number then you will need to contact your new provider to request a new service and contact your current provider to end your existing contract.

You may want to coordinate the end date of your old contract and the start date of your new one to prevent an overlap.

Don't forget that if you’re still in contract, you need to contact your current provider to give notice that you wish to leave. If you’re still within your minimum contract period you may have to pay an early termination charge

Checklist for new phone or broadband contract
This guide sets out some factors you might want to consider before signing a new contract and explains what you can do if the price you agreed to at the point of sale increases unexpectedly.

Managing your costs - mobile phones
Knowing how you use your phone and choosing the right package is key to ensuring you get the best value from your mobile phone deal.

Mobile coverage checkers
Just because you enjoy a strong signal with your current provider doesn’t mean that a competitor will necessarily provide the same coverage.