UIFN vs. ITFS: Which Toll-Free Number is Right for Your Business?

UIFN vs ITFS Business Phone Numbers

As you expand your business’s global presence, you may be wondering how your new customers are going to easily reach you by phone.

While you could use domestic numbers for your voice channel, you’d be leaving your international customers to pay for the call rates. When faced with the high cost of their phone bills, they might choose to reduce their conversations with your organization– or disappear altogether. 

Consider adding a UIFN or ITFS number to your portfolio, so your international customers can call your business for free. But which type of global toll-free number is the right one for your operations? Let’s explore below.

The Differences Between UIFN vs. ITFS

Part of the global toll-free number family, both number types can benefit your business. There are a few differences between them– think about how you would be using them when making your selection. 

What is UIFN?

UIFN is short for Universal International Freephone Number and provides inbound voice service to multiple countries worldwide on a single number. 

These phone numbers offer businesses a single point of contact for their customers across 70+ countries. Regulated by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), only nations in the program have access to UIFNs. 

Businesses that want to use a UIFN for global toll-free service must use a VoIP partner, like AVOXI, who can source these numbers from a Recognized Operating Agency (ROA) as outlined by the ITU.

Voice Coverage

You can provide a single point of contact for your customers in 70+ countries on one UIFN. See the list of participating countries below in our most commonly asked questions. 

Formatting

The format for a UIFN is different compared to international toll-free service numbers. Dialing a UIFN requires the caller to enter a country exit code (which is known as IAC) before the prefix and local phone number of the country they’re calling into. 

It’s a three-part sequence: 

  1. International Access Code (IAC)
  2. 800 prefix
  3. 8-digit local phone number

The IAC registers where the UIFN-based code originates so it can connect to the correct PSTN.

Here’s how it would look as a caller from Australia dialing a UIFN to another country: +0011 - 800 - 12345678

What is ITFS?

ITFS is short for International Toll-Free Service, which is another type of global toll-free number that’s country-specific. This means that if you have customers concentrated in several countries (e.g. Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand), you’ll need an ITFS number in each country so your customers can call your business. 

Voice Coverage

Each number is associated with one country. You can access ITFS phone numbers in the most popular as well as hard-to-obtain countries depending on your voice service provider. 

Formatting

The format of an ITFS number is straightforward and does not require an IAC. 

It’s a two-part sequence: 

  1. Prefix (800, 888, 1800, etc.)
  2. Local phone number 

Here’s how the final form would look for an Australian international toll-free service number: 1800-123-456

Pros and Cons of Global Toll-Free Numbers

When deciding whether a UIFN or ITFS number is right for your business, it’s essential to look at the big picture of your call strategy and budget. Below, you’ll see the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision. 

UIFN ITFS
PRO
  • 70+ countries on one phone number
  • Less expensive
  • Uniform number formatting
  • Available in 150+ countries
CON
  • You must use a ROA to apply for a UIFN
  • Costly registration fee
  • Format can be confusing for international callers
  • Limited country availability
  • Only one country per number
  • Costly to track numbers that span many countries

Commonly Asked Questions About UIFN vs. ITFS Business Numbers

VoIP provider pricing can vary but generally, you’ll find the cost structure for UIFNs and ITFS numbers as…

  • UIFNs have a one-time registration fee ($200 - $500 USD) which is paid by the VoIP provider to the ITU. Additional costs include ROA usage, provider subscription, and provider usage + applicable fees. 
  • ITFS costs are calculated by the provider subscription + phone number, provider usage, and applicable carrier fees. 

Make sure to ask your provider about ways they’ve implemented cost-saving voice solutions. Read more about this in our eBook →

How to Choose Between a UIFN or ITFS Number

Choosing between a UIFN or ITFS number is dependent on 1) where you’re expanding 2) who is calling your business and 3) how much you want to spend. 

If your country is only accessible for one type of number, it’s probably an investment to make. But if you have options– think about your customers’ ease of calling from a formatting perspective, just as you would at the cost of your international rates. Whatever the right global toll-free number may be for your business, the telecom experts like AVOXI can help. 

With more countries and breadth of global toll-free numbers, you’ll be able to access and manage all of your inventory from a user-friendly voice platform designed to support your global presence. 

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