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How to cancel a SIM-only contract

A woman looks over a document while holding a smartphone in her other hand

Even on a SIM-only plan, sometimes you just need to go your separate ways – we’ll explain how

If you’ve decided that your current mobile provider isn’t doing a good job, or you’ve found a better offer, then it’s time to end your contract and move on. Unfortunately, figuring out how to do this can feel like deciphering a crossword written in a foreign language.

We’ve reviewed numerous of the worst, the middling and the best mobile networks and have scrutinised the terms and conditions of every provider in the UK, so we can give you the map to navigate the ins and outs of cancelling a SIM-only contract.

Below, you’ll find our step-by-step guide; however, since there may be some small, specific differences, depending on the provider, we can only give you a general outline. At the end of the article, we’ll tell you where you can start the process for some of the most popular UK networks.

Step 1: Check your contract terms

First things first – dust off the contract you signed at the outset and look over the terms. Specifically, look for the minimum contract period and pay close attention to any penalties or special conditions that apply when cancelling.

There may be some conditions where you can cancel a contract with no penalties at all. For example, Ofcom stipulates that you have the right to cancel your contract without penalties in the case of a mid-contract price rise that wasn’t spelt out in your original contract.

Step 2: Consider the timing

If you’re close to the date of your contract renewal, it may be better to simply tough it out instead of cancelling early. You’ll have to weigh up any penalties you may incur against what you stand to gain from jumping ship.

For example, you may want to take advantage of a great deal that will only be available for a limited time, or you might be about to leave the country for a while and won’t need your contract, in these scenarios it may be cheaper to pay the cancellation fee than remain tied to the rest of the contract period, paying for a service you won’t use.

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Step 3: Contact customer service

Once you’ve decided that the time is right, the fastest way to cancel your contract is to get in touch with your provider’s customer service department, as they will be best placed to guide you through their particular process. There are three common ways to do this:

  • Call the customer care number directly.
  • Use the chat facility on the provider’s website.
  • Use your provider’s mobile app, if they have one.

There may also be an option to initiate the cancellation process from your account page when logged in to your provider’s website but, again, the exact details will differ between providers.

Step 4: Request a PAC or STAC code

If you want to keep your number and move it to a new provider, you’ll have to request a PAC, or Porting Authorisation Code. Your new provider will ask for this code when you sign up which indicates to them that you want to continue using your old number.

A graphic image of two SIM cards with arrows pointing to each one forming a circle

If you don’t want to keep your old number then you need to ask for a STAC, or Service Termination Authorisation Code, instead.

Step 5: Provide the necessary notice

Once you have your PAC or STAC code, you still need to formally give notice that you wish to end your contract. The exact requirements for this will be in your contract, including what form of communication they accept and how many days’ notice you have to provide. For example, you may have to provide a minimum of 30 days’ notice, in writing –  mailed or emailed – to a certain address.

It’s advisable to keep a copy of the notice for your records, as well as the acknowledgement of receipt. If your provider fails to acknowledge receipt of your notice, be sure to follow up with them in case the letter never reached them.

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Step 6: Pay any remaining charges

Your provider will send you a final bill, including all outstanding charges and any early termination fees. Your contract won’t be cancelled until you’ve settled this bill.

Since, in this scenario, you’re cancelling a SIM-only contract, there should not be any outstanding fees related to a handset.

Step 7: Confirm cancellation

After settling your final bill, you should receive a confirmation of cancellation from your provider. Again, it’s advisable to keep this for your records as, if you are charged again by accident or there’s any kind of future credit dispute, that final confirmation letter is evidence that your business with the provider has been concluded.

First steps for popular mobile providers

While we can’t cover them all, here are a few quick tips on how to start the cancellation process for SIM-only contracts from some of the best SIM-only providers:

  • Voxi: It’s only a 30-day recurring plan, not a long-term contract, so you should be able to cancel from your accounts page, under “My Plans”.
  • ID Mobile: The company has helpfully outlined the exact steps to take to cancel your contract in their FAQ pages.
  • Smarty: There’s a dedicated contract cancellation article, with a short explanatory video, on their website that will tell you everything you need to know.

You’ll find similar resources for every provider – simply use a search engine like Google to find the right page on their site, or ask customer service to direct you to the correct documents. Follow all the instructions you find in their official resources and you should be ready to move on in no time.

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