Numbers • Last Updated 12/5/2023

Phone Number Porting: Estimating the Time Required

Porting a phone number varies depending on specific conditions, but it typically takes at least 1-7 business days.


By Emily Bowen

Why does porting phone numbers take so long?

Number porting is the process of transferring a phone number from one carrier to another. There are two main reasons people port numbers. First, the PSTN is being shut off across the globe, which means that telephone users who have landlines must switch to VoIP. Second, sometimes a user wants to change carriers due to factors like location, cost, plan features, network or customer service quality.

In both instances, the user must arrange to port their number to the new carrier if they wish to retain that number. Businesses often depend on their phone numbers—changing or losing a phone number means customers can’t reach you and your employees can’t communicate with each other. If porting is done incorrectly, a business might end up with a mangled number or lose access to their phone number altogether.

The perceived risk and complexity of porting can be intimidating, and often prevents businesses from freely evaluating and addressing their communications needs. Whether their current carrier overcharges for usage, lacks features, or fails to provide flexible solutions, businesses can end up feeling trapped in a communications partnership that no longer suits their needs.

In this blog post, we explain why porting is often perceived as a challenge, and offer a solution that alleviates the hassle.

How long does it take to port a number?

Porting a number can take as little as one day, but it often takes days or weeks. Port time depends on many factors, including the carriers involved, what type of number you’re porting, what country your number is based out of, and whether or not all documents included in the port order are correct.

Factors that speed up number port time:

  1. The number owner is ready to approve the port out request
  2. All documentation is correct, consistent and matches carrier records
  3. The number in question does not have complex properties (like unbundled network elements, multiple lines, complex switch translations like remote call forwarding, multiple services on the loop or resellers)

Factors that slow down number port time:

  1. The customer or carrier is unresponsive
  2. Port order rejections (usually due to missing or incorrect documentation)
  3. Supplemental requests to resubmit the port order (changing the requested date, telephone number or other information)

If your number has specialized features like call forwarding, voicemail services or multiple lines, porting can take longer. Contact your carrier to see if removing features before porting is a good option to expedite the process. Otherwise, ensure your request is complete and accurate to reduce port time.

With Telnyx FastPort, you can port numbers in 1-4 business days. Standard or off-net ports take 3-7 days, complex ports take 1-2 weeks, and project or international ports can take up to 6 weeks depending on complexity. Use the Telnyx Mission Control Portal to check if your number can be ported and keep reading to find out more.

Why does porting numbers take so long?

The reasons why porting numbers takes so long are multi-faceted and are often caused by the carriers themselves. In a nutshell, carriers don't want you to leave their platform, so they make the process more difficult than it needs to be. Let's take a closer look:

Carriers don’t want to port your numbers.

Losing numbers is losing money—it’s that simple. The longer your existing carrier or SIP trunk provider drags its feet giving up those numbers, the longer the company can keep charging you. So, given the opportunity, the losing carrier will often draw the process out as long as possible; the carrier will wait out the clock before responding to a porting application and reject it outright if there are errors, inconsistencies or missing information.

Those carriers wrote the porting rules.

Number portability is federally regulated. Back in the nineties, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) stepped in to regulate cross-carrier porting after carriers began abusing the process by putting up artificial barriers to switching carriers. However, the telecom lobby is a powerful force, and the rules are still heavily influenced by carriers.

Today, carriers must enable number portability, but each carrier has 30 days to comply with a request. Each request has to contain specific documents that must be signed, complete and consistent with existing records—otherwise the carrier can deny the request, sending the requestor back to square one.

Even when executed correctly, porting is slow and manual.

Porting requests are often manual and clumsy. Every carrier has its own proprietary system and requires its own unique set of information. They require different types of verification, and follow-up communications aren’t standardized, clear or helpful. Choose a leading communications provider that has a proven track record of regulatory compliance, connectivity and deliverability.

What documentation do I need to port a number?

Missing or incorrect documentation is the number one cause of porting delays, so it’s important to get it right. The documentation required varies by carrier, but can include the following:

  • Letter of Authorization (LOA): an industry standard form that gives the carrier permission to port the number
  • Customer Service Record (CSR): records from the existing carrier that is used to verify your number, address, and billing info
  • Copy of Bill (CoB): an invoice that proves the end user owns the numbers

Before you begin a porting request, it’s crucial that you obtain the correct documentation: contact both your existing carrier and the carrier you’re porting numbers to learn about their unique requirements.

Common reasons numbers are rejected during porting

Again, the main reason porting requests are delayed or even outright rejected is incorrect or missing documentation. Some common reasons for delays or rejections include:

  • The LOA is not signed
  • There are inconsistencies between the CoB and the LOA
  • The CoB does not have carrier’s name or logo
  • There is a discrepancy between the existing carrier’s records and the information you provided during the port out request
  • The phone number or account number is typed incorrectly
  • There are spelling or numerical errors (such as incorrect spelling of personal or billing information, mistyped phone numbers, or inconsistencies within a single document)
  • An invalid PIN with existing carrier
  • Unauthorized or incomplete signatures

The FCC is strict about number porting, and carriers will not begin the transfer process until all documents are in order. While some delays may cost you hours, others can set you back a week or more, so it’s critical that you check over your application carefully.

Porting implications by location

Port times can also vary by location. The following are estimates, and not standardized or verified by a particular carrier or service level agreement (SLA).

CountryEstimated Port Time
FranceMinimum 8 business days
GermanyDepends on number type: Geo = minimum 10 business days; Non-geo (toll-free/national) = minimum 14 business days
IrelandMinimum 2 business days
BelgiumDepends on port type: Simple ports = minimum 4 business days; Complex ports = up to 3 months
FinlandMinimum 5 business days
SwedenMinimum 14 business days
DenmarkMinimum 14 business days
GreeceMinimum 7 business days
HungaryMinimum 10 business days
PolandMinimum 7 business days
RomaniaMinimum 8 business days
SlovakiaMinimum 20 business days
BulgariaMinimum 20 business days
LithuaniaMinimum 2 business days
LuxembourgMinimum 14 business days
SloveniaMinimum 10 business days
United KingdomMinimum 4 business days (up to 6 weeks)

Take the hassle out of number porting

Because it’s a complicated process, most businesses don’t switch carriers often. However, organizations that manage lots of numbers need to be able to port numbers quickly and easily.

Telnyx centralizes each client’s porting requests in a user portal that automates and standardizes the process while giving the client unmatched visibility into the process.

One Telnyx customer provides integrated digital communications tools that help medical and service-based businesses serve and retain more customers. With Telnyx FastPort, this business is able to onboard new customers by porting numbers quickly and reliably, in a fraction of the time it takes other providers. Telnyx’s communications solutions enable this business to deliver a better customer experience and raise their bottom line. Their end users reported high-impact results, including:

  • Saving their staff almost 3 hours per day on communications-related tasks
  • Achieving 44% more on-time appointments
  • Cutting appointment no-shows and cancellations by 10%

As a leading communications provider and internationally licensed carrier, Telnyx takes care of the complexities of regulatory compliance, security, connectivity and deliverability. Relying on this expertise gives businesses peace of mind and eliminates hassle.

Contact our team of experts to port numbers with Telnyx. Or sign up for a free account to start porting numbers yourself.

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