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What happens when I port my number?

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We have number transfers (ports-ins) happening every day and so to us, it’s just routine. We sometimes forget that, because a mobile number becomes such a part of a person’s identity, entrusting it to someone else’s care is scary. It doesn’t need to be. Let’s walk through the process.

Step 1:  Don’t cancel anything

If you want to transfer your phone number from your old carrier to a new one, it’s key that you don’t cancel with your soon-to-be previous carrier first. Your number and your account have to be active during this process.

Step 2:  Start where you want to end up

Once you’ve got a phone or SIM card compatible with your new carrier, you’ll start the transfer process with them. Usually, that means filling out a form with the information your previous carrier has on file. Little piece of trivia: In industry jargon, the carrier you’re leaving is referred to as the “losing carrier.” The carrier you’re moving to is called the “gaining carrier.”

This information will likely include the account holder name, the billing address, account number and a number porting or account PIN. This varies pretty widely from carrier to carrier though, so make sure to find out what your old carrier is looking for in a transfer request. It just so happens that we’ve got a handy list of that information.

Also, keep in mind that if you ever need to make a change to the request, you always do that with your new (“gaining”) carrier.

Once you’ve submitted the transfer request form the action moves behind the scenes.

Step 3: Robots

The information you provided the “gaining carrier” gets compared against what the “losing carrier” has on file. This is a safety measure to ensure that only someone who has access to your account information can move your phone number. It’s also why it’s so important to provide your new carrier all that (accurate) information about your old carrier account.

Everything in this step is automated unless there’s a mismatch. In that case—if a pair of human eyes need to look at your transfer—the process might slow down.

Step 4: You’re approved!

If everything in the request form matches up, your old carrier approves the request and sets a time to release and transfer your number over to the new, or gaining, carrier. You’ll get an email outlining the time.

Step 5: Transfer complete

Once the release time rolls around the number is transferred over to your new carrier and they get in touch with you. From the time that you submit the form until your number is transferred is usually anywhere from two to six hours, but it can take up to 24 hours. Landlines and Google Voice lines always take five to seven days.

Number transfers are really very simple and mostly work without a hitch. When they do run into trouble, it’s usually because something in the submission form wasn’t correct or very rarely there’s a problem with one of the automated systems handling the transfer. Whatever the case, that’s when humans get involved and there’s almost always a solution.

For more specific information about getting the transfer process started, follow along here.

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