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Keeping Your Telephone Number When Changing Service Providers

Under the Federal Communications Commission's "local number portability" rules, you can switch telephone service providers for wireline, wireless or Voice over Internet Protocol and keep your existing phone number if you remain in the same geographic area. If you are moving from one geographic area to another, however, you may not be able to take your number with you.

Initiating the process

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

  • 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, which may include your customer account number and passcode, along with your five-digit zip code.

Fees and charges

  • Companies may charge their customers fees to recover the costs that they incur in providing number portability. Ask the new company whether it charges any number portability fees and whether those fees can be waived.
  • Companies may not refuse to port a number because a consumer has not paid for porting.
  • Once you request service from a new company, your old company can't refuse to port your number, even if you owe money for an outstanding balance or termination fee; however, you are still obligated to pay any unpaid balances or fees, if applicable.

The porting period

FCC number porting rules require "simple" ports to be processed in one business day. The deadline applies to all simple ports, including "intermodal" ports such as wireline to wireless, wireless to wireline, wireline or wireless to VoIP or any other combination. Simple ports generally do not involve more than one line or more complex adjustments to telephone switching equipment.

'Mixed service' during porting

If you port from a wireline phone to a wireless phone, there may be a period of "mixed service" – when you essentially 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. Also, if you port from a wireline phone to a wireless phone, your wireline long distance company will not move with you. Your long distance service will generally be provided by your new wireless company, which you should verify with the new wireless company.

Emergency services

In some areas, 911 operators automatically receive the phone number or location of a wireless call, but in many areas the technology capable of providing that information – known as Enhanced 911 or "E911" – is not yet available.

During the one-day porting process - if there is a period of "mixed service" - your E911 service may be affected. Calls should go through, but 911 operators may not be able to call you back if disconnected. Before porting, ask your new company if the one-day porting process will affect a 911 call.

Filing a complaint

If you have a problem porting your phone number from one service provider to another, first try to resolve it with the service provider. If you cannot resolve the problem directly, you have multiple options for filing a complaint with the FCC:

  • File a complaint online
  • By phone: 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322); TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322)
  • By mail (please include include your name, address, contact information and as much detail about your complaint as possible):

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20554

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

Reviewed: February 4, 2015

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