If you already have a phone number, and you don’t want a new number when you transfer to a new...
Keeping Prepaid Cell Phone Numbers
If you already have a phone number, and you don’t want a new number when you transfer to a new cell phone service provider, you can transfer your prepaid phone number to the new cell phone company. This is a process known as porting, though a practice known as mobile number portability (MNP).
Initiate the Phone Number Transfer
After you’ve selected a new carrier and phone, you’ll need to contact your new carrier and let them know you want to transfer the number. In most cases, you’ll be asked right when you purchase the phone and activate or setup the account. You will need to start the transfer process with the new carrier to ensure that you do not go without cell phone service during the transfer.
Your provider may ask for account numbers, bills, or other documentation to verify the company your number is currently with. You may have to sign documentation authorizing the transfer of the number from the old network to the new network.
If you place your order online, you will be asked whether you want to have a new number assigned, or if you want to port your old number. You’ll be asked to provide the current provider’s information and phone number, so that when your new phone arrives to your home, you can activate it with the same phone number you currently have.
Your New Carrier Talks to Your Old Carrier
The new carrier will send all the paperwork and verification to the old carrier, so you shouldn’t have to speak to the old carrier at all. Depending on who you go through, the process may be as simple as a phone call from the new carrier’s representative to the old carrier.
Porting Request Approval
The old carrier will approve the transfer request. Your new carrier will keep you up to date with the process. Depending on the carriers, it could take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks to get the number completely ported. During this time, you will continue to use the phone with your old carrier, if you do not want a lapse in service, so it is best to port your number in the middle of your service month.
There may be a brief period of time where you receive calls on one phone, and make calls on the other, while the phone number is in limbo.
What Happens if the Porting Request is Denied
In most cases, your port request should go through without a problem. If however, the carrier denies the porting request, ask what to do about it. You may be able to provide more documentation to satisfy the old carrier so that they will transfer the number to the new carrier.
Typically, cell phone carriers are required by law to port your number in most situations.
Things to Consider
- Do not initiate the porting request with the old carrier. The new carrier will take care of it for you.
- Do not cancel service with your current prepaid provider before the number is fully transferred to the new provider. If you cancel before it’s moved over, you could lose the number. If you lose the number, you will have to get a new one.
When you switch providers, you are not obligated to keep your current phone number. You can get a new number assigned with each carrier, choosing which number to keep with you. Most people elect to transfer their number so they do not have to go through the trouble of notifying their friends, family, and business contacts of the change.