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Global Toll Free Numbers: What You Need to Know

Companies doing business across the world are always looking for the most efficient way to communicate with their customers. With communication being a key to success, many companies opt to invest in phone systems, phone numbers and even call center software to help facilitate this.

But if you have customers in several countries, how do you talk with all of them? Many customers choose to utilize a global toll free number, like a UIFN (Universal International Freephone Service) number. While UIFN numbers can be useful for some businesses, many buyers don’t realize that this type of number is not a “catch all” solution for worldwide communications. In this article we’ll discuss global toll free numbers and what you need to know about them before you buy one.

What is a UIFN or global phone number?

Sometimes referred to as a global phone number, a UIFN number can be successfully dialed from multiple countries. Instead of having toll free numbers for each country, business sometimes choose to utilize this type of number.

They’re different than country-specific toll free numbers in a few ways. First, they’re formatted differently. UIFN numbers are composed of a 3 digit country code and then an 8 digit numerical code. This gives you a phone number that is 11 digits long. They also have different restrictions and accessibility, which can differ from country to country.

How does this type of phone number work?

Thes types of phone numbers work similarly to toll free numbers in that they’re free for a customer to call.

But when it comes to dialing a UIFN number, the process changes a bit. Toll free numbers are formatted a certain way based on which country the number is for so callers in that country understand that a number is “toll free”. UIFN numbers need to be called the same way in every country and because of this, some callers don’t immediately recognize that they’re free to call.

Should you purchase this type of phone number?

The biggest downfall to UIFN phone numbers is that they’re only accessible in roughly 40 countries. If your customers reside in these 40 specific countries only, it may be a good option for you. But if you have customers you’re trying to reach outside of that area, there are other options you could utilize to better communicate with them.

Plus, there are a lot of rules and requirements when it comes to buying a UIFN number. The number must be registered in at least two countries, and it can take up to 180 days to set up.

These numbers also come with a higher price tag so take that into consideration when deciding on how you wish to communicate with their customers.

What are your other options?

International toll free numbers are the best option for businesses with customers across the globe. Yes, you’ll need to purchase a toll free number for each country… but, you’ll then have a toll free way for customers to reach you. (And it is frequently more cost-effective than purchasing a UIFN number.)

If you want to ensure that certain numbers are displayed on your website to customers from certain geographic regions, you can use dynamic number insertion. This handy technique allows you to display different phone numbers depending on the IP address of your website visitors. (Check out this article to learn more.)

A UIFN or global phone number can be a good addition to your business if you meet the qualifications above. You should recognize that there is no complete phone solution to touch everyone across the globe. If you’re looking for a way to communicate with customers across several countries, your best option may be specific toll free numbers. Fully understand what your communication needs are and consult your telecommunications provider before selecting the numbers you think you’ll need.