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South Africa: Number portability regulations come into effect

8 March 2022
– 3 Minute Read


On 7 March 2022, the Number Portability Regulations, 2018 (Number Portability Regulations) published by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) under the Electronic Communications Act 36 of 2005 (the ECA) came into effect. The Number Portability Regulations repeal the old Number Portability Regulations, 2005.

The Number Portability Regulations apply to licensed operators with numbers allocated to them by ICASA in terms of the Numbering Plan Regulations, 2016 (Numbering Plan Regulations), published under the ECA.

Number portability is defined in the ECA as the ability of subscribers to an electronic communications service (ECS) (or licence-exempt service provider) to retain their existing numbers without impairing or interfering with the quality, reliability or convenience of switching or porting from one licensed ECS provider to another.

Ability to port numbers

Licensed operators with allocated numbers must offer number portability, at their own set-up cost, in respect of the following numbering ranges:

  • geographic numbers in accordance with the requirements set out in regulation 5 of the Number Portability Regulations;
  • non-geographic numbers in the National Destination Codes 086, 080 and 087 in accordance with the requirements set out in regulation 6 of the Number Portability Regulations; and
  • numbers classified as ‘mobile numbers’ (i.e. a 10-digit number to be dialled including the national prefix, as defined in the Numbering Plan Regulations) in accordance with regulation 6 of the Number Portability Regulations.

Licensed operators must carry out number portability in accordance with the current ordering system specification published by ICASA in the Government Gazette on 29 March 2019, and the functional system specification (FSS) for number portability in Schedule A of the Number Portability Regulations. The FSS sets out the following:

  • porting procedure;
  • information required for porting;
  • port validation process;
  • reasons for port rejection;
  • port reversal;
  • quality of services for porting; and
  • non-disclosure of a subscriber’s service profile.

Ability to confirm number portability 

A ‘recipient operator’ (i.e. a licensed operator to which a number or number block has been ported, and who is the operator that will be providing services to the subscriber following the number porting) must provide functionality to enable a subscriber to confirm the status of the number portability (i.e. whether the number has been ported). The operator can do this through a third party or the internet.


A licensed operator that originates or routes a call to a ported number, whether directly or indirectly, must ensure that the call is routed to the licensee currently serving the number, and any original calling line identification must not be changed in the routing process. This must be done by way of the number portability routing code, which ICASA assigns to an operator upon application. 

Licensed operators must receive, store and update a local copy of their database of ported numbers for purposes of originating, routing and receiving calls to and from ported numbers.

Warning before connecting calls to ported numbers 

The call-originating operator is required to issue a warning, at no charge, to the subscriber calling the ported number before connecting the call. The warning must comprise three audible beeps.

Contraventions and penalties 

Licensed operators will be liable to pay administrative fines if they contravene the Number Portability Regulations. The prescribed minimum and maximum amounts of the fine vary according to which regulation an operator has contravened. For example, a licensed operator who contravenes the ordering system specification published by CASA is liable for a fine between ZAR 500 000 and ZAR 2 million.

The Number Portability Regulations are accessible here.