Guide to Business Number Porting

Business number porting is the process of transferring your telephone service from one provider to another while maintaining your existing phone number.

With the end of the traditional PSTN telephone network looming in 2025, it's a good time to shift towards modern, cost-effective telecommunication solutions like those offered by UK VoIP providers. Successful number porting is an important consideration for maintaining continuity and efficiency in your business communications.

In this article, we'll look at why you might consider porting your business number, the steps involved in the process, potential issues you might encounter, and some frequently asked questions to help you navigate this transition smoothly.

What Is Number Porting?

Number porting is a process that allows you to keep your existing phone number when you switch telecom providers. Business number porting is common, especially as more companies transition to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) systems.

In the UK, the number porting process is regulated by communications regulator, Ofcom, which ensures the process is smooth and fair, setting clear guidelines for providers.

Because of the way telephone exchanges work, the actual process of business number porting involves a few technical steps behind the scenes, but at its core, it’s about transferring the responsibility of your number from one provider to another. This ensures that when someone dials your number, the call is routed through your new provider's network instead of the old one.

Reasons to Port Your Business Number

There are several reasons to change service providers while maintaining your current business number.

The Big Switch Off

Due to the Big Switch Off in the UK, all traditional phone services will need to be replaced with new VoIP technology by December 2025. This mandatory transition is a response to the outdated infrastructure of the current system and aims to take advantage of the reliability and flexibility of internet-based communication.

Porting your business number to a VoIP provider means you can modernise your communication systems with features like call forwarding, voicemail-to-email, and video conferencing, all while retaining your existing phone number.

Improved Services

Switching to a different provider often comes with better service, features, pricing, and future-proofing benefits. Porting your number allows you to take advantage of these improvements without sacrificing your existing phone number.

This can mean enhanced call quality, more robust VoIP features, readiness for future technology advancements, and more competitive call rates, all while keeping your current number.

Retain Your Brand and Avoid Disruption

Your phone number is a key part of your brand identity, acting as a stable point of contact for your customers. By porting your business number, you ensure your long-standing clients and partners can reach you without effort, maintaining the professional image you’ve worked hard to build.

Customers value consistency and ease of communication, so keeping your existing number through porting ensures that your clients can continue to contact you as usual without the need to update their records. This convenience is crucial in maintaining a positive customer experience. It also allows you to transition to a new provider without any risk of missing important calls.

Avoid Reprinting Marketing Materials

Your phone number appears on numerous marketing materials, from business cards to brochures. Changing your number means reprinting all these materials, incurring significant costs. By porting your number, you save on these expenses and the effort of updating your contact details across various platforms.

How to Port Your Business Number

Porting your business number to a new VoIP phone system is relatively straightforward, but it pays to plan ahead to avoid any potential service downtime. Following these straightforward steps will help ensure a smooth transition.

Step 1: Choose Your New Provider

Before starting the number porting process, you’ll need to decide which new provider you want to switch to. Read our thorough research of UK VoIP providers to find one that best suits your needs.

Consider the type of service offered, including VoIP phones, landline options, VoIP for mobile, pricing plans, call quality, and customer support. Plus, any additional features that may be important for your business, like call recording, voicemail-to-email, or virtual receptionist services.

Step 2: Gather the Required Information

To initiate the number porting process, you’ll need specific information to give to your old and new service providers.

  • Phone number: This is the existing phone number that you want to port to the new provider.
  • Account number: The account number held with the current phone service provider.
  • Name and address: The legal name and address of the account holder, for verification purposes.
  • Contractual information: Any relevant contractual details, such as contract end dates, termination fees, and authorisation for the porting process.
  • Authorisation: Confirmation that your business is authorised to request the porting of the phone number from the existing provider to the new provider.

Step 3: Submit a Porting Request

Contact your new provider and submit a porting request. This typically involves filling out a form with your details and the information gathered in the previous step. The provider will then start the number porting process.

Step 4: Coordinate With Both Providers

Your new provider will coordinate with your existing provider to schedule the transfer. Confirm that both providers know the porting schedule and have agreed upon the transfer date and time. This coordination helps minimise any potential downtime or service disruptions during the switch.

Step 5: Confirm Transfer Date

Once the transfer is scheduled, your new provider will inform you of the exact date and time when your number will be ported. This allows you to inform and prepare your team for the upcoming change.

Step 6: Test After Porting

After the number is ported, test it to ensure it works correctly with your new provider’s services. Make a few calls to and from your number to verify everything is functioning as expected.

Business Number Porting: Potential Issues

Here are some of the things you'll need to be aware of when porting your number to VoIP.

Delays in Porting

Ofcom requires providers to provide portability “as soon as is reasonably practicable and on reasonable terms”. In most cases, the number porting process in the UK takes between one and five days. Porting more than 25 numbers at a time can take up to two weeks. It's best to confirm these specifics with your new provider to set accurate expectations.

To minimise delays, ensure all your documentation is accurate and complete. Stay in regular communication with both your current and new providers to track progress.

Service Disruption

During the porting process, there might be a brief period when your phone service is disrupted. Plan the port during off-peak hours or days when your business is closed, ensuring minimal impact on operations.

Incompatibility With New Provider

Sometimes, your current number may not be compatible with the new provider's system. To avoid this, confirm number compatibility before initiating the porting process. This can be done by directly consulting with the new provider.

Contractual Obligations

Exiting your current contract early might result in penalties. Review your existing contract for any termination fees or notice periods required. Knowing these terms can help you avoid unexpected costs.

Data and Feature Loss

Switching providers could mean losing voicemail, call logs, or other data tied to your old service. Before porting, check with your new provider about transferring this data or preparing backups if necessary.

Maintaining the privacy and security of your customer data during the porting process is crucial. Enquire with your new provider about its data handling policies and any security measures in place to protect sensitive information during the transition.

Technical Glitches

Technical issues can arise during the switch. To counter this, test your number extensively once ported. If issues arise, report them immediately to your new provider for prompt resolution.

Next Steps

Given the impending Big Switch Off, business number porting is important for future-proofing your communications and maintaining uninterrupted service. Porting ensures a seamless transition to VoIP technology, allowing your business to adapt to new advancements while retaining your existing number.

With this in mind, the next step is to evaluate your current and potential new providers. Consider what you want from your new provider and read through our comprehensive list of the top VoIP providers in the UK. Armed with this knowledge, you can make an informed decision that best supports your team's communication needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take to Port a Business Number?
The time to port a business number in the UK ranges from a few days to two weeks, depending on the complexity of the transfer and coordination between providers.
Can I Port a Company Mobile Number?
Yes, you can port a company mobile number in the UK. The process is similar to landline porting, involving coordination between your current and new mobile service providers.
Can a Company Refuse to Port Your Number in the UK?
Companies can’t usually refuse to port your number in the UK. However, there might be exceptions due to technical limitations or contractual obligations with your current provider.
Written by:
Richard has more than 20 years of experience in business operations, computer science and full-stack development roles. A graduate in Computer Science and former IT support manager at Samsung, Richard has taught coding courses and developed software for both private businesses and state organisations. A prolific author in B2B and B2C tech, Richard’s work has been published on sites such as TechRadar Pro, ITProPortal and Tom’s Guide.
Reviewed by:
James thinks all businesses can improve if they use the right technology. At Expert Market, he utilises his 4+ years experience as a researcher to offer specialised advice on a wide range of categories from CRM to Fleet Management.