Temporary Waivers for Porting Numbers Following Hurricanes

The FCC has temporarily waived several of its rules to make it easier for carriers to respond to their customers' urgent needs. For instance, we have waived our numbering rules to allow carriers in areas affected by hurricanes to port telephone numbers outside of their specified geographic areas during this period of service disruption. Therefore, those who have evacuated to new areas may be able to port their number to a new carrier at their new location. We have also waived rules to make it easier for carriers that provide service in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and in any states declared states of emergency as a result of Hurricanes Maria and Jose, to temporarily disconnect customers' telephone service upon request to avoid billing issues and then reinstate those same numbers once service is restored. Consumers should contact their carriers to see if they are taking advantage of these waivers and to learn what other relief their carriers are offering.


If you're switching service providers and remaining in the same geographic area, you can keep your existing phone number. This process – often referred to as phone number porting – can be done between wireline, IP and wireless providers.

Getting the porting process started

You may request service from a different company at any time. When changing companies:

  • Review your current contract. Your contract may contain early termination fees and/or outstanding balances that you are obligated to pay.
  • Do not terminate your service with your existing company before initiating new service with another company.
  • Contact the new company to start the process of porting your number.
  • Provide the new company with your 10-digit phone number and any additional information required.

Are there fees for porting?

  • Companies may charge you to port your number, but you can ask whether any fees can be waived or negotiated.
  • A company cannot refuse to port your number because you have not paid for porting.
  • Once you request service from a new company, your old company cannot refuse to port your number, even if you owe money for an outstanding balance or termination fee.

How long does the porting process last?

FCC rules require simple ports, which generally do not involve more than one line or more complex adjustments to telephone switching equipment, to be processed in one business day. You may be able to use your phone within a few hours for changes among wireless service providers. However, porting from wireline to wireless service may still take a few days.

Service issues for wireline to wireless transition

If you port from a wireline phone to a wireless phone, there may be a period when you have two telephones with the same number.  Ask your new wireless company whether you will be able to continue using your current wireline number during the one-day transfer process.  

Wireless 911 location and callback services (where available) may be affected during the transition.  Calls should go through, but 911 operators may not be able to call you back if disconnected.  Before porting, ask your new company if your 911 service will be affected during the process.

Also, your wireline long distance company will not move with you.  Your long distance service will likely be provided by your new wireless company, which you should verify.

Porting is not always possible

If you are moving to a new geographic area, you may not be able to keep your current phone number when changing providers.

Also, some rural wireline service providers may obtain waivers for the porting requirement from state authorities. Their customers may be unable to port their number to a new provider. If you are unable to port your number for that reason, contact your state public utilities commission for further information.

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Portability: Keeping Your Phone Number When Changing Service Providers Guide (pdf)

 

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Date Last Updated/Reviewed: 
Friday, September 29, 2017