Have questions about how toll free numbers work? We answer one of the biggest toll free number FAQs: are toll free numbers free to call internationally?
International toll free services are a key aspect of many businesses. This service allows customers to call businesses free of charge and are typically a key contact method for customers especially when a business might not have a physical location. There are some more important things that can be helpful to know when looking to use a toll free number. In this post we will cover:
- What are toll free numbers?
- Are toll free numbers 100% free ?
- International toll free numbers
- What regions you might be able to call
What are Toll Free Numbers?
What exactly is a toll free number? A toll free number is a number that uses a selected 3-digit code at the beginning of the number to reach a company without any extra costs. Without this 3-digit code, callers risk getting charged for long-distance calls. There are several different 3-digit codes you might come across when using a toll free number:
Are Toll Free Numbers Really Free?
When calling a toll free numbers are free when they are being dialed within their own country. The calls get charged to the business hosting the number and are free to those calling on a landline. However, when using a cellular phone to call a toll free number the call will use the caller's available minutes if they do not have unlimited calling on their phone plan.
Each country has its own dialing format for toll free numbers, too. Germany toll free numbers begin with 0800, and are followed by 7 digits. So, the standard format looks like this: 0800-XXX-XXXX. Ireland toll free numbers begin with 1800 followed by 6 digits. An Ireland toll free number format looks like this: 1-800-XXX-XXX. And Romania toll free numbers are different, too. Their standard format looks like this: 0-800-XX-X-XXX.
International Toll Free Numbers
Toll free and international numbers are compatible however, while toll free numbers are free within your own country, when calling internationally you will be charged international rates. Since businesses don’t want to have to pay for international rates they can choose to block international calls and typically offer a local number for the customer to call instead.
The closest thing to a global toll free number would be a universal international freephone number (UIFN). UIFN numbers aren't really global toll free numbers; but, they can be dialed from multiple countries. There are quite a few rules and restrictions that come with UIFN numbers:
- A UIFN number must be registered in at least two countries.
- A UIFN number must be in service for two or more countries 180 days from the day that your business reserved it.
If your business wants to use one number (that is free to call for customers) in multiple countries, a UIFN number is often a viable choice. But, be sure to check with your provider on coverage and restrictions before you sign any contracts. UIFN numbers are expensive, and they come with a hefty setup fee.
UK Toll Free Numbers
While most of the UK has toll free number services, there are certain areas that are not included. Toll free number typically does not cover calls to the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands, even though they use UK national dialing codes.
China Toll Free Numbers
There are some differences between China’s 800 toll free numbers and their 400 numbers. The biggest difference is that their 800 numbers are only accessible to land-line users, while 400 numbers are accessible to both landline and mobile users. Another difference is that 800 numbers are free of charge to the caller while 400 numbers incur local access charges. 800-toll-free numbers and 400-toll-free numbers in China are ten-digit numbers beginning with "800" or “400”. There is no prefix before "800". A China toll free number would look like 800-XXX-XXX or 400-XXX-XXXX.
United States Toll Free Numbers
The United States toll free numbers are a bit different because they cover more than just that one country. The United States uses the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). This plan includes 25 different regions including:
- American Samoa
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The British Virgin Islands
- Cayman Islands
- Dominican Republic
- Northern Mariana Islands
- Puerto Rico
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Sint Maarten
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Turks and Caicos Islands
- United States
- United States Virgin Islands
However, there are some restrictions to NANP toll free calls. Even though there are several different countries on this list, calling to and from these different countries can still have you incurring international rates, so it is always good to ask your provider first.
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