Number porting is important because it means the difference between remaining operational during the VoIP transition period and/or having to tell all your contacts your new number, as well as losing customers, and referrals you’ll never know about. Fortunately, business phone number porting is a relatively easy process.

The first step to number porting, and this is absolutely important: Do NOT cancel your existing service before you have your number ported. You will lose your phone number, if you cancel before due time. You will want to cancel all special features, such as call hunting, before you start your new service, otherwise the process will be a big headache.

Once you have agreed to start a new service contract with your new provider, you will have to sign forms, including one that agrees to have your number ported. This is called a “Number Transfer Request” form and you may have to fax it, or be able to scan it and email it, because it requires your signature to be official. You cannot do it only online.

Have a copy of a recent bill. The process of porting may be different depending on what type of number you are porting. Porting a cell phone number requires you to have the SSN and any PIN associated with the account holder. A toll-free number requires knowing the billing address, and a local phone number needs your main billing number. If you have an international number you may have to call your provider to see if it can be ported at all. As I’m fond of saying, with VoIP, all calls are local calls. You can port a number to an area that would otherwise have a different local area code. So if you have a Manhattan area code of (212) – you can port it over even if your business is located in Texas.

Unlike porting a cell phone number, which is done instantly, business phone number porting does take some time. Therefore your new provider will have to issue you a temporary number until the porting process is complete. Have this number handy, and if you are porting more than one number, know which number is being ported to which temporary number to avoid confusion. It may take as little as 24 hours and as long as two months to complete the port. The process is automatic, and you will be able to check on the number porting status online via your admin control panel of your new phone system. And that’s it! Once you have your new number, you will receive calls as normal, and your old number will appear on the caller ID. Note, you will have full access to all features associated with your system with the temporary number

One last thing: Some business VoIP providers charge to port a number, some do not. It is completely up to the provider whether to charge to port the number, because there are legitimate costs incurred when the number is ported. In some cases, as I’ve seen in the past, a provider may waive number porting fees, so be sure to ask.

Number porting is a simple and easy process. For a short period of time, you’ll be using the temporary numbers, but once the process is complete, you’ll be able to make calls, and transmit the caller ID, with your old number.

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