How to transfer a number to a new business phone system – Forbes Advisor


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Changing (also known as porting) your current phone number to a new business phone system isn’t difficult. While it might take around a week to fully switch to a new provider, the steps you need to take aren’t long.

If you prepare the right documentation and do your research before porting, the process will be relatively quick. We have defined everything you need to do and take into account before transferring your number to a new system.

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Before you start

Before you port your number, there are a few important steps you should take that will make the process easier.

Don’t cancel your service with your old provider (yet)

While part of the purpose of porting your number is to cancel your old service, do not cancel it until your number has been transferred. You cannot transfer a number that is no longer associated with a supplier.

Once your number has been transferred to your new service, you can cancel your old plan, if you wish. Keep in mind that there may be fees associated with terminating your old contract, so be sure to review these details before canceling.

Check if your number is eligible for porting

Although every telephone company is required to allow porting, not all telephone numbers can be ported to the service of your choice. When looking for new phone services, make sure that your current number can be transferred before you start the transfer process. Many providers allow you to check the eligibility of your number on their website. It will save you time and headaches.

Check the compatibility of the device with the new supplier

Not all devices can be used on all services. Check if your device can be used on a new carrier or provider and make sure it’s unlocked if so. You may need to purchase a new device if it doesn’t, in which case you should check with your new provider for any special offers.

Have account information available

You will need to gather key information and have it on hand to make the porting process run as quickly as possible. Prepare your account number, your PIN code, your service address, your billing address and the number (s) and extension (s) you wish to transfer. You may also be asked to provide a recent invoice to your new supplier, so have that ready as well.

How to transfer a number

Once you’ve gathered your account information and verified if your device and number can be toggled, porting is a straightforward process. We recommend that you maintain clear communication with your old and new suppliers to make the process as smooth as possible.

  1. Choose a new supplier. Review different providers and choose the best phone service you want to port your number to, based on your business needs.
  2. Gather the required information. Tell the new provider that you want to port your current phone number, and they’ll tell you the details they’ll need to port it.
  3. Set up your new account. Provide the requested information to your new service provider. The faster and more accurately you do this, the faster the porting process will be.
  4. Prepare your device (s). If you plan to use the same hardware after changing services, you will need to unlock it. Follow your current carrier’s steps to unlock a device before switching. If you’re using a new device, you can start setting up your accounts and apps as needed.
  5. Wait for the port to complete. Keep your plan with your future old provider active until the new provider confirms that the porting is complete. The time this will take will vary depending on the complexity of your service.
  6. Cancel your old plan. If there are no more active lines with your old provider and your account balance is refunded, you are ready to cancel your old account. You can leave it open if you want, but closing it protects you from potential fraud.

Both individuals and businesses choose to port numbers because it is often more convenient than getting a new number. When you transfer a number, you will not have to notify anyone that your number has changed. For a smoother experience, anyone who wants to reach you can do so by calling the same number you had before switching providers.

Potential problems when porting a number

Although the FCC legally requires that all carriers allow you to port a number, you will not be able to port it if any of the following conditions are true:

  • Your new supplier does not serve your geographic area. If the company you are switching to does not offer service in your area, your number cannot be transferred.
  • The number you are trying to transfer is no longer in service. Only currently active numbers can be ported.
  • Your new provider does not have an interconnection agreement with your old provider. If there is no deal, your number cannot be transferred, so you will have to look for another provider.

Other obstacles that might arise (but are fixable) include:

  • You are not the account holder. If so, you may need to get in touch with that person and ask them to handle this process.
  • You gave incorrect contact details. If your name or address does not match between your old provider and the new provider, you will need to correct the mismatch.
  • You have already disconnected your old number. If you disconnected your number before the end of porting, porting your number will take longer.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to wear a number?

On average, porting a business number takes one to two weeks. It may take longer if the correct account information is not provided to your new provider, or if your number has additional features such as call forwarding, groups, or special voicemail services.

Can you transfer a number even if you have an outstanding balance with your current provider?

Yes. Typically, you are allowed to port your number to a new provider even though you still need your current number, but you may need to pay bills from your old provider before you can cancel your account.

Are there any charges for porting a number?

May be. Businesses are allowed to charge fees for number porting, but you can try to negotiate to reduce or eliminate them.

Can you transfer a number to a VoIP service?

Yes. Most numbers can be transferred to a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service. Check with your current provider and the VoIP service to which you wish to pass the eligibility information to ensure that your number can be transferred successfully.

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