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What is Number Porting: Everything you Need to Know

Did you know that you can keep your phone number when switching providers?

Yes, that’s right. If you’re switching providers, you don’t have to let go of the phone number you’ve had forever. You don’t have to get a new number (that someone else probably already owned) and rebuild your contact list.

Most importantly, no more “New phone, who dis?”

But how? Two words: number porting.

In this post, we’ll explore exactly what number porting is, how to port your number to a new carrier and give seven examples of when you may wish to port your number.

Table of Contents:

What is Number Porting?

Porting your number means transferring your phone number from one service provider to a different service provider.

For example, let’s say your number is with NumberBarn, but you want to switch to Bumber-Narn (our arch-nemesis).

You will have to port, or transfer, your active number from NumberBarn to Bumber-Narn. The number will eventually no longer be with NumberBarn and you’ll no longer pay us for service. Instead, you’ll pay Bumber-Narn once it ports away.

Same number, different provider.

The time to port a number can vary widely depending on a number of factors. On average we see it taking between 3-10 business days, but don’t be surprised if yours ports refreshingly fast(er).

There are other examples of number porting, but we’ll get to those specifics later. For now, let’s talk about why number porting is so important.

It’s possible that there may come a point where you will need to switch service providers. A lot of people assume that also means getting a new phone number that the new provider assigns you.

That’s such a hassle.

Imagine losing all of your contacts and having to ask around for peoples’ numbers and sending out those dreaded texts: “Hey this is so-and-so. Here’s my new number!”

So annoying.

Imagine having to change your phone number with your bank, your doctor, DoorDash, Uber, social media, etc. The list goes on as your precious time fades away.

Not to mention that your new number is only new to you. Yes, it’s possible someone has owned it before and that presents other frustrations all on its own.

It’d be much easier to just keep your number. That’s why number porting is so important and why more people should know it’s an option.

But before I go into depth on number porting, let’s go over a few terms I’ll be using that you may be unfamiliar with. Unless you want to get straight to the point. If that’s the case, then well… scroll away! See you there!

Terms to Know

Before talking about porting, I’m going to use some phone number terms you may not be aware of. (And that’s okay, I didn’t either before working at NumberBarn).

Most of these terms are exactly how they sound, so I won’t go into lengthy explanations. You’re welcome.

Rate Center

As you read, you’ll see that not every carrier or service provider can accept your phone number. The reason for that is the rate center.

A rate center is a geographical area used by a Local Exchange Carrier (LEC) to organize the boundaries for local calling, billing and assigning of phone numbers.

You’ve heard of local and long-distance calling. A rate center is what determines whether a phone call is local or long-distance.

It’s important to know what a rate center is in regards to porting because you will have to check the rate center BEFORE purchasing a phone number. If you don’t check first and attempt to port, your port request could be rejected. And now you have a phone number you can’t use with your preferred carrier.

But if you forget to and the new carrier rejects you, don’t fret, wondering why they can’t accept your number. If you’re porting to or from NumberBarn, we’ll walk you through all your options.

Number Parking

Like with cars, you can park your phone number.

There may be an instance where you can’t immediately port your number, but you can’t keep it with your current service.

Number parking is essentially “storing” your number with a low-cost service provider on a month-to-month basis. You maintain ownership of your number and have it on hand for when you’re ready to port it to your new carrier.

For example, what do you do with all of your furniture if you bought a new house, but you can’t move in for another month and you can’t stay at your old house? You store it until it’s time to move in.

When your carrier is ready, you can stop parking your number and port it in.

Call Forwarding

This is pretty self-explanatory. Call forwarding is the ability to forward phone calls from one phone number to a different phone number.

Let’s say you have a business and need a phone number to put on your website. You don’t want to put your personal number on the website, but don’t want to get an alternate device.

You can buy a new phone number, park it with NumberBarn, and allow phone calls made to your new number to forward to your personal number on your device.

Wireless vs Wireline

Different service providers offer different services. Obviously… What I mean is some providers offer wireless services while others offer wireline.

Wireline (or landline as you more likely know it) uses cables, or data lines, to connect service to your home or office. Wireless, as you guessed it, doesn’t use cables or data lines. Instead, it uses radio frequencies to connect services to your device.

(Here’s a great article going in-depth on the difference between wireless and wireline and which might be best for you).

In the world of porting, it’s important for you to know whether your current and new service providers are wireless or wireline. It has a direct impact on what your porting process will look like.

Port in vs Port out

Let’s end on an easy one.

The provider that you are leaving, is the provider you’re porting out from. Your new provider is the one you’re porting in to.

Easy. I’ll mention those a lot so I figured it was important enough to clarify.

There are plenty of other terms used in the VoIP industry. If you ever get confused, you can refer to our list of terms we often use.

Now that you know those fun porting terms, we can move on to why you may (or may not) choose to port your number.

The Pros and Cons of Porting Your Phone Number

Like with everything, there are pros and cons to number porting. While we believe the pros heavily outweigh the cons, your situation is unique to you. 

Depending on your priorities, the cons may tell you that porting isn’t your best option. We want to help you make a confident and fully-informed decision that’s right for your phone number needs.

The Pros to Number Porting

Keep Your Phone Number

Let’s start with the easiest “pro.” Yes, with porting you get to keep your number when switching to another provider.

You may have multiple reasons to switch service providers and even more reasons you’d want to keep your number when switching. Porting your number is definitely a different process than acquiring a new number, but the benefits frequently outnumber the challenges.



Keep Your Landline

This is similar to keeping your number, but more specific because landline numbers work differently than your cell phone number.

Most people think that your landline phone number comes with the house. When you move to a new house, you have to get a new number – a number that comes with that house.

That just isn’t the case.

That number is yours, not the house’s. It’s likely you’ve had that number for years. You have the option of keeping that number and porting it to the carrier at your residence.

If the number isn’t supported by the rate center, you have another option. You can port your number to NumberBarn forward your calls to your new landline.

Choose Your Own Phone Number

In the case where keeping your number isn’t that important to you, there’s still a perk you may not know about. Whether you’re getting a new landline or a new cell phone, you can choose your own phone number.

You don’t have to stick with the number that you’re assigned. Once you find the number of your dreams, like an unforgettable vanity number, you can port it out to your new provider.

The Cons to Number Porting

Not All Providers Are Created Equal

Unfortunately, not all providers are able to take your number. Not every rate center supports every number.

As frustrating as that may be, there is still a way to work around losing your number. You can port your number to NumberBarn and set your account to forward all calls to your new number.

However, it only works for forwarding calls to your device. You won’t receive text messages on your device, but you can text through your NumberBarn account.

The Process Can Take a While (but Not Always)

We mentioned earlier that the porting process can take 3-10 business days. Why such a wide range?

In the instance where you’re porting a wireless number to a wireline number (and vice versa), the process can take a while.

Why? It depends on your new carrier. Each carrier processes its porting requests at different times and at different speeds.

If you believe your port is taking longer than usual, it’s best to reach out to the new carrier that’s receiving your number since the delay may be on their end. We’d also recommend reaching out to the new carrier before requesting your port and ask what the timeline may look like.

5 Reasons You’d Want to Port Your Number

As we’ve established, there are many reasons you may wish to port your number to another service provider. Regardless of your current situation, anyone could benefit from these examples.

In this section, we’ll discuss the main reasons people choose to port their phone numbers.

Moving

Yes, we’ve already mentioned moving as a benefit to keeping your landline. As we all know, moving is never easy.

But that doesn’t mean porting your number has to be hard.

Moving to Another City (With a Different Area Code)

When you’re moving to another city or state within the same country, you can keep your landline number. Yes, even if your new service provider doesn’t accept that phone number.

If the new provider can accept your landline phone number, then port it to them and you’re good to go.

If not, that’s okay. Create a new voicemail that informs callers of your new number. Or, streamline the process by porting your landline number to NumberBarn and forward the calls directly to your new landline.

Moving to a Different Country

Guess what! When moving internationally, you still have the option of keeping and using your US or Canadian phone number without exorbitant carrier fees for international use.

No need to convince all of your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, acquaintances, exes and pets to download Whatsapp or social media to keep in touch with you. Anyone who needs to reach you while you’re living your ex-pat life can simply call your usual phone number.

How’s that? Magic?

No, not magic. Porting.

Port and park your landline phone number and/or cellphone number to NumberBarn. From there, forward all calls to your new, international number.

NumberBarn works with over 40 countries! While every country has its own international rates, NumberBarn has extensive information and experience in international forwarding. We’ll help keep you covered and communicating during your time abroad.

Snowbirds

Now if you’re frequently moving from home to home, chasing the most desirable weather conditions, porting will be your best friend.

Let’s say you have one home in Ohio and another in Florida and live in each home for about six months each year, like this NumberBarn customer. Do you have to pay for two landlines year-round despite not using them for an entire year?

No. You don’t.

When you’re in Florida, you can port your Ohio landline to NumberBarn and forward the calls to your Florida home. And vice versa. (Just don’t forget to port back to your home’s local service provider when you move back!)

That means you only pay for each landline when you need to use it. Plus our super affordable rates (a one-time $5 port-in fee + about $8/month).

It might take a little bit of extra effort on your behalf, but the savings are worth it. Ask that aforementioned customer. He saves $480 a year.

Canceling Your Landline

Landlines can be expensive. Which would be acceptable if they were absolutely necessary.

But they’re not. More and more people are cutting ties with their landlines for various alternatives.

If your situation doesn’t necessitate keeping your landline, you don’t have to keep making monthly payments for it. You can cancel your landline and keep your number.

Once you’ve ported your number to NumberBarn and set calls to forward to your desired phone number (likely your cell), simply cancel your landline.

Easy as 1-2-3; almost as cheap as $1-$2-$3.

Sentimental (Family Member’s Number)

Phone numbers have existed for over a century. With an extensive history surrounding the origins and development of phone numbers, chances are high that your phone number has been with you for a while.

To you, your phone number is more than just 10 random digits placed together.

Your phone number is you.

We see it that way too.

If you must switch service providers but can’t port your number to the new provider, you still have options. 

You can always port your dearest phone number to a provider that allows number parking (like us!). Parking allows you to keep your number even if it’s not ported away to your new carrier.

Store it away to prevent others from using it, or also utilize call forwarding.

It’s up to you.

Protect Your Info When Canceling Old Services

Sentimentality aside, there’s another reason to keep your phone number when switching providers.

The first of which includes protecting you from identity theft.

Normally when switching providers, you receive a new phone number and lose your old one. That old number gets recycled, enabling the possibility of different cyber-attacks, as found by Princeton University.

They discovered that one of the ways attackers gain access to your private information is by “cycling through available numbers and checking if any of them are linked to existing online accounts (e.g., social media, email, e-commerce). Attackers obtain the numbers with hits and try to reset the password on the linked accounts via SMS-based password recovery.”

You can then guess what they’re able to do once they gain access to those accounts.

And that’s just one of eight threats presented by number recycling. Scary stuff.

To help protect yourself from those attacks, port your old phone number and park it. Parking doesn’t just prevent others from using your number, but it prevents cyberattacks by keeping your number off that list of available numbers.

Convinced yet?

Changes in Your Business

Number porting can be extremely beneficial if your business is downsizing, relocating, on hiatus, or better yet…expanding. Your number is already posted on fliers, advertisements and printed collateral. Avoid extraneous confusion by keeping the number and forwarding it to your cell phone.

In the exciting event of business expansion, perhaps you should no longer take business calls on your personal cell phone. Port a new number in as a business number and forward it to your cell phone, or simply use your NumberBarn account for business calls and messages via your computer during “business hours.”

How to Port Your Number

Okay, okay. We’ve looked at enough details on why you might need to port your number. It’s time to dive into the HOW of porting your number.

If you’re more of a visual learner and want to port your number to Numberbarn, here’s a short video explaining how to do that:

As you’ve learned by now (unless you skipped everything to get here), there are many instances in which you’d want to port your number. Actually porting it, however, is a different story.

Porting your number is a pretty straightforward process, but can still take quite some time. Here’s how to port your number:

1. Contact the company you want to port to

I know, nobody wants to contact companies, but sometimes it’s necessary. While each carrier has plenty of personalized information on how to port your number to them, they still prefer you contact them.

They can accurately inform you on what charges may apply to your unique situation. It’s best that you call so you don’t have any surprises.

2. Make sure they can support your number

You can usually find this information on their website. Here are the links to a few of the major carriers you may be switching to:

3. Gather all the information your current company has on file

The information needed to port your number will be collected during sign-up. That information includes:

  • The number you are porting
  • Your account number and PIN#/Passcode (when porting a wireless number)
  • Your physical address (no P.O. Boxes)
  • Phone call to authorize port OR signed Letter of Authorization (LOA)
  • A copy of your phone bill (COB) from your current provider dated within the last 30 business days

This is extremely important. Please make sure the information you submit during sign-up matches the information your current provider has on file. Any discrepancies can delay the number porting process.

If you’re porting away from NumberBarn, there may be other information you need to provide. You can find what information that is in our article here (and how to find it in your account).

4. Check for any contracts or additional services that may affect porting

Let’s say your current mobile carrier is AT&T and you wish to switch to NumberBarn.

If you also have internet and cable with AT&T, your port won’t go through. Or worse, those services will be canceled without you knowing and you won’t have internet anymore.

Call your current provider to make sure you don’t have additional services with them and if so, what you need to do to make sure your port goes through successfully and stress-free.

5. Provide new company with porting information

You know, that important information we mentioned above.

6. Keep your number and move it to a new provider!

Tada! You’re ready! Port your number and 3-10 days later, you’re all done.

It’s important to NOT cancel before the number ports. And also make sure settings are configured on both sides to make sure the switch over is as seamless as possible.

Not too bad, huh?

4 Reminders for Porting Your Number

I understand that all of this information can be very overwhelming. If that’s the case, then take a few deep breaths and read this section at your own pace.

If you forget everything else written in this post, make sure you at least remember these key porting points I’m about to mention.

Porting Can Take Some Time

Be prepared that porting your number can take anywhere from 3-10 business days. (Meaning weekends and holidays not included). It sure can feel like porting takes forever.

Even if you’re in a rush to get your number ported, there’s isn’t much any party can do to speed up the process. However, you can help avoid extra delays by ensuring you’ve completed all the required steps mentioned above.

That said if you’re porting a mobile number to another mobile carrier (ex: AT&T to Verizon) it likely won’t take 10 days. Wireless to wireless porting is easy. However, wireless to wireline is not.

It can take up to 10 days when switching from a VoIP service to a mobile service (ex: NumberBarn to T-Mobile) or vice-versa. Switching from wireless to wireline takes a few extra days.

Make Sure the Carrier Supports Your Number

Before you start the porting process, it’s essential to check that your desired carrier supports your number. 

If you’re porting to a wireless carrier, you likely don’t have much to worry about. On the off-chance they reject your number, you’ll be glad you checked before going through the whole porting process.

If they won’t port your number to them and you definitely want to use that specific carrier, you’ll need to find a number you can port. In that case, you can search for a phone number for as low as $5 with NumberBarn.

Get the Information Right

Double, triple, quadruple check that you get all of your information right. If the info you have with your current provider doesn’t match the info you give your desired provider, it will exacerbate and lengthen the process.

Nobody wants that.

As annoying as it can be, it’s very important because confirming all of your information helps us and other carriers verify that someone isn’t trying to steal your number and your personal info along with it.

If we find any discrepancies in the information we receive, we will notify you to reach out to your new provider to correct the information. But it’s best we avoid all that back-and-forth altogether.

Don’t Immediately Cancel Your Service

Just because the porting process has started doesn’t mean you can cancel your old service.

You should only cancel your old service when the porting process is completed.

How will you know it’s completed? You should get an email from your new provider that your number has officially completed porting. You can then call your old provider to confirm and say your final goodbyes.

Number Porting Pro

POP QUIZ!

Respond with “yes” or “no” to the following:

  1. Number porting is a great, versatile tool that everyone can benefit from.
  2. I’m aware of any situation in which I’d need to port my phone number.
  3. I know what steps to do when porting my number.
  4. I’m awesome.

If you answered “yes” to all four of those, then congratulations, you are officially a “Number Porting Pro.” Go show off your newfound knowledge to all your friends.

If you didn’t, then that’s okay. We understand that all of this information can be overwhelming. Read it over a few more times. Bookmark this page. Do whatever you have to. Know that you’re still awesome.

And if you ever need a new provider or a new phone number, porting is always a good idea. Why not start porting now? Even if you’re just using our port-and-park plan to store your number and protect your information. 

We have plenty of other (very inexpensive!) plans you can take advantage of as well. Head over to our website to take a look at what’s included in each of them.

If you have any questions along the way, check out our help center or reach out to our amazing customer support team.

Last, but not least, we want you to know that we at NumberBarn are here to help you and support your number needs. Thank you for choosing to be Number Smart.

Avatar image of Joel Arnold
Written by

Joel Arnold