This article is part of a larger series on VoIP.
Number porting enables you to keep your current business phone number when switching to a new wireless carrier or voice-over-internet-service (VoIP) provider. The process, known as local or wireless number porting, transfers your number from one provider to another. The seven-step process for how to port a number is outlined below, and the good news is that most of the work is done by the providers.
Use the following guide to learn how to port a number to your new business phone service:
1. Gather Account Details From Your Old Carrier
In most cases, any U.S.-based landline, toll-free, or wireless phone number can be ported. Your new phone service will first verify that you own the number you want to port by asking you for information about your current service.
Having the required documents and information on hand makes the number porting process smoother and prevents delays. If you’re unsure or don’t have these details, contact the customer service center of your previous carrier to get it.
You may need some or all of the information below to port a number:
- The account number for your current phone service
- The phone number to port
- Your personal identification number (PIN) or passcode
- The mailing and/or physical address listed for your existing number
- The name of the primary account holder on the account
- A copy of your most recent bill
- Online login information for your business’ phone services
2. Provide the Details to Your New Provider
Information in hand, it’s time to contact your new VoIP provider or wireless carrier. They’ll tell you how to port a number to their company and verify that your current number is transferable. This is also a good time to ask about any fees for porting a number.
Many providers, including RingCentral, will transfer the number you want to port at no cost to your business, and they’ll even pay any fees charged by your current carrier. On the other hand, Google Voice charges a $20 fee to port a mobile phone number from major carriers like AT&T and Verizon. It never hurts to ask a new provider to waive or reduce fees related to the number porting process.
3. Submit a Request to Port a Number to the New Provider
Number porting process details vary by provider, but many services require you to call a customer service number to start the transfer. Although some companies, like Ooma, let you submit a request through the Ooma Office Manager, we still recommend talking to a live agent to avoid errors that could delay the process.
Along with providing the necessary information, you may be required to sign a Letter of Agency (LOA). The process usually can’t start until the account holder signs the LOA, so if you’re calling on behalf of an employer, you may want to get these forms completed first. Nextiva, for example, has separate request forms for toll-free and local numbers. A member of the Nextiva sales team will email you the correct forms or you can access them online.
4. Follow the New Provider’s Instructions
Although your new carrier may be able to complete the number porting process on their end, they may still need your assistance. Log in to your new business phone service through the device you’ll use to access your administrative portal. A representative of your new provider will work with you to initiate the transfer process, which should only take a few minutes.
5. Wait for Confirmation the Number Has Successfully Ported
After requesting to port a number, it may take anywhere from two to 30 days to complete the process. Your new carrier will often be able to give you a time frame based on the type of number being ported and the other carrier involved.
For example, RingCentral says number porting of toll-free numbers can take up to two business days, whereas transferring landline numbers from major carriers may take up to a week. The length varies because your new provider works with your old carrier to determine the end date.
While you’re waiting for confirmation that the number porting process is complete, it’s important to keep your old phone system in service. If you cancel it before the porting process finishes, you could lose your number.
During this time, you may receive a letter from your old carrier, called a firm order confirmation (FOC), stating the date they’ll transfer the number. Your new carrier will update you when the number has transferred to your account. However, many providers provide updates via the administrative portal, so you can also check there to see if the process is finished.
In the meantime, your new carrier will provide a temporary number so you can use your new services while porting your business phone number. Take advantage of this time to set up the VoIP system’s features by configuring user settings and downloading the mobile or desktop apps. Most business phone systems provide instructions for setup and installation, along with details about how to port a number.
6. Test Your Business Phone Number After Porting
Once you receive confirmation that the number porting is complete, it’s time to test your new service. Grab any external phone and dial your business number. If the call rings through to your office desk phone or another device connected to your new service, the port was successful. If the call doesn’t go through, contact your new carrier’s customer support line.
7. Cancel Old Service & Pay Off Any Debts
Your old carrier can’t hold your phone number hostage if you owe them money, but they can refuse to cancel your service until your account is fully paid. Before canceling, don’t forget to download any reports or files you want from your old account. When your account is paid and you’ve downloaded anything you want from your account, go ahead and request cancellation of your old service.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What does porting a number mean?
Porting a number refers to the process of moving your business’ phone number from your old carrier to your new business phone service. If you’re switching carriers and want to keep your company’s phone number, ask your new provider how to port a number to start the process.
Is number porting instantaneous?
No. Porting typically takes a few business days but can take as long as a month. For example, porting a single number from one business cell phone carrier to another may only take a day or two. In contrast, it can take longer to switch a number from a rural provider.
Are all phone numbers able to be ported?
There are certain cases where you may not be able to transfer a number. Some services in rural areas get a waiver from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), exempting them from porting numbers. You can also lose your number if you cancel your current phone service before completing the number porting process.
What information needs to be provided when porting numbers?
To port a number, you’ll need to give the new provider details like your current account number, the 10-digit business phone number to port, and the account holder’s name and address. Your new carrier may also request a copy of a recent bill from your current provider. You may also be asked to sign a LOA giving them permission to port your number.
What is local number porting?
Local number portability (LNP), also known as local number porting, transfers a local phone number from one telecommunications carrier to another. However, if you port a wireless number to a new provider, it’s called wireless local number portability (WLNP), while porting numbers that are toll-free is referred to as toll-free number porting (TFNP).
What are possible issues you can encounter?
When porting numbers from a landline to a wireless or VoIP service, you could temporarily lose access to emergency location and callback services. Talk to your new carrier to see if it’s possible to keep using your number during the porting process. You may also run into delays if you provide the wrong information or cancel your current service before the process finishes.
Number porting happens behind the scenes and requires a request from you to port a number and the correct information to initiate the process. Business VoIP systems and wireless carriers verify all transfer requests to prevent fraud and stolen phone numbers, but it’s important for you to maintain your current service until the porting process is fully complete. Understanding how to successfully port a number can save you time and help ensure a smooth transfer.