International toll free numbers are an essential piece of any business's communication strategy. They allow customers to call a business free of charge. More importantly, they can be used to create a point of contact in markets where businesses may not have a physical location.
Despite the fact that toll free numbers are such a popular and important business tool, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about how they actually work. In this post, we'll answer one of the most frequently asked questions about toll free numbers: "Are toll free numbers free to call internationally?" Then, we'll review some of the ways that businesses can make ensure that customers around the world are able to contact them free of charge.
Are toll free numbers free to call from anywhere?
The short answer to this question is no. And here's why:
First, toll free phone numbers are country-specific. And each country has its own set of coverage, restrictions, and accessibility rules associated with toll free numbers. 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. So as you can see, toll free number formatting is a little different for almost every country.
Most toll free numbers can only be dialed for free within their own country. This means that in most cases, toll free numbers are only free for customers who are physically in-country.
If you are dialing a USA toll free number in the US, it is free to call. (But keep in mind that you may not be able to dial a US toll free number from abroad.) If you are able to call the number, you may be charged the international rate.
Are there numbers that are free to call internationally?
A lot of our customers come to looking for toll free numbers that are free to call and can be called from anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, there is really no such thing as a "global toll free number." The closest thing to this 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.