How To Do MTN Sim Swap Without Old SIM ( *173# Number To Dial Self Service)

There is a stark difference between MTN SIM swap and porting. This guideline illustrates proven steps on what to do to get back your lost number.

I have received numerous enquiries on SIM cards nor working and also request for replacement of their lost number. In either way, it is something of a pain when you discover that you do not have access to your beloved number.

MTN Sim Swap Explained.

In a non technical language, it is a process whereby you obtain a replacement for either your lost MTN SIM card or damaged card with the same number.

how to sim swap mtn

The difference between MTN porting and SIM swap is that the former has to do with moving or changing your number to another network while maintaining that same number whereby the later i.e. SIM swap is changing the SIM card to a new SIM card on the same network.

In South Africa where I am resident, the process to sim swap MTN is different from residents of Nigeria or other countries that MTN is operating. The reason is because of the different USSD codes that you will need to dial to commence or start the process.

This guideline explains everything in details.

How Long Does MTN SIM takes

From experience, the best time to SIM swap your MTN number is generally in the morning time till the afternoon period before 4pm, and thereafter you wait for approximately 5 hours. Anything beyond this time frame reflects on the next day for it to start working.

However, with aggressive customer care expansions that MTN South Africa is implementing across most municipalities in the country, walking to a nearby shop brings relief and you can expect to see your SIM card working as quickly as possible.

Requirements And Documents

One of the two major requirements for you to get your lost number back is knowing the perfect answers to the security questions that will be asked from you, either when you dial the ussd code or you walk into the nearest MTN shop outlet.

With the first requirement mentioned above, the following are briefs of the requirements and documents needed:

  • A new MTN starter pack that should be registered in your name. The whole registration process should be done and after it is successful, you need to commence with the SIM swap process not more than 30 minutes after you have been registered.
  • Your SA ID or passport ( this is required if you walked physically into their shop, but if you are going to do it by SMS or dialing USSD, then no need for this)
  • A document showing your proof of residence. Again, this is only needed based on point above.


If you are in South Africa, the MTN SIM swap USSD code is *135#; however, if you are in Nigeria, the USSD code is *173#.

How To Do MTN SIM Swap

The four practical ways to implement SIM swap are:

  • Dialing USSD Code for Active Line ( damaged or change of size)
  • Dialing USSD code for inactive line ( Stolen or lost)
  • By SMS
  • Walking into MTN customer care outlets

1. MTN SIM Swap for Active Line

This process of getting back your MTN number is if you probably want to change the size ( e.g. from normal size to nano SIM card size).

The reason for this explanation is that when you dial the code or even make a call, if you chose you want to change the size, all your contacts, airtime and data will be recovered for you and they will be intact by the time the swap process is done and completed.

They will be transferred to the new SIM card.


  • Send an SMS in this format to 44770 from the SIM that is still in your phone, this works if you want to change the size. Your message will be ‘ sim swap’
  • Write down the PIN message you will receive later
  • You will also send another message in this format ( swap 0731112222*1234#) to 44770 from the SIM card you just registered. I am assuming that your MTN number is 0731112222 and the OTP you received is 1234. Once do this, remove the SIM card and keep it safe somewhere
  • After a while, the old SIM will stop working ( within 8 hours), remove it and put back the new SIM.

In case you encounter any problem, just call 135, i.e. the MTN customer care service for the SIM swap department.

2. MTN SIM Swap for Damaged SIM Or Lost/Stolen Phone

In contrast to the above, when you do SIM swap for either lost, stolen or damaged SIM, you will not get your airtime, contacts or data back.

Now, that I think you fully understand the difference, follow the steps below to retrieve your MTN number back:

  • From the new SIM card, dial *135#, select 5 for SIM swap
  • Follow the prompts , answer some security questions and you are good to go.
  • I recommend that you watch the video below.

After this, remove the SIM card from the phone, keep it somewhere safe. After 8 hours ( from experience) or the next day, insert it into your phone and you will be happy to see that your number is back.

3. MTN SIM Swap By SMS

To sim swap using SMS works great if your MTN line is active just like in point 1 above. This method also works if you want to upgrade your MTN LTE to non LTE number.

The steps to use SMS to get back your number is explained below:

  • From your phone SMS SIM swap to 44770 from your existing SIM number ( i.e the SIM is still in your phone, this works if you want to change the size
  • You will receive a one time pin ( OTP) which is valid for 15 minutes.

Kindly see point 1 above and follow the remaining instructions!!

3. Going to an MTN Outlets

Walking into an MTN Outlet is the last step if the above three self help SIM swap methods failed. However, most contract customers are the ones that falls into this category because of the nature of the contract they have with MTN.

As a contract customer who lost his/her phone, going to an MTN store is the best option and always remember to go with your ID/passport and proof of address etc.

The Importance of Doing SIM Swap

I have met and seen many people whose business office is their phone. Everything about them is stored on their phone, from their bank accounts, to customers number and appointment dates etc.

So whenever they lost their phone or if their SIM card no longer works, you can imagine the pain they will go through.

Secondly, knowing and applying the above mentioned self help guidelines to get back your lost number keeps you safe from fraudsters and hackers.

For easy understanding, I recommend you watch this video from YouTube on the SIM swap processes:

Now, there are some few points to note:

In case you implement the above self help SIM swap process and it failed, the chief reason why it mostly fails is if you are unable to get the questions correctly.

In addition, the whole service is free, though if you go to an MTN outlet, you may be required to buy and pay for a new SIM card that will be registered in your name.

In conclusion, getting back your lost or damaged MTN SIM card is not rocket science, kindly follow the above steps.

If you have any question, kindly ask through the comment section that is below.