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UK Virtual Number Forwarding: Your Business Phone Number Guide

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Your Complete UK Business Phone Number Guide

This guide will:

  • Tell you how to get a UK business phone number.
  • Explain the different types of business numbers available to you.
  • Compare a variety of pricing plans for UK business numbers from different providers.
  • Help you avoid hidden costs.
  • Provide tips for getting the most out of your UK call forwarding service.
  • Address frequently asked questions about business number portability, number restrictions, international calling, and more.

If you’re looking for information about residential international calling, or you want to learn about getting international calling cards, you’ll probably find more useful information from a service like Union Telecard Alliance.

If you’re looking for information about how to maintain a personal phone number while living abroad, we found those answers on Quora.

What You Need to Know About UK Virtual Numbers and Call Forwarding

Most business calling is no longer done through traditional telephony. Instead, calls are transmitted via VoIP, or Voice-over Internet Protocol. Your business number will be a virtual number that diverts calls to your landline, mobile, or virtual phone. These virtual phone numbers, also known as call forwarding numbers, forward calls from within the UK to your business line.

The 3 Types of UK Forwarding Numbers

There are three types of UK virtual numbers that businesses generally use. These include:

  1. UK Freephone Numbers (Toll Free)
  2. National 03 Numbers
  3. UK Local Numbers (01/02)

Each of these number types has their own unique benefits, drawbacks, restrictions, and business uses. In this guide, we will explain average pricing, restrictions, and common business-uses for these numbers. You will need to decide which type of business phone number is right for you.

uk business number forwarding

UK Business Phone Number Pricing

In most cases, 5 key factors determine the cost of your UK forwarding service. You will find specific examples of provider pricing in each section of this guide. Your costs will include:

Monthly Subscription Fees

The monthly price of hosting your business number. Some services include business features and talk time in their plans. But, many providers charge an add-on fee for each feature.

Call Forwarding Rates

How much you pay per minute of talk time. Most providers include a certain amount of talk time in your monthly subscription fee. The pricing plans below reflect call costs when forwarding to a UK landline number. However, many providers will include a virtual softphone with their service, reducing your forwarding costs. Tip: Paying per-minute is generally more expensive than buying a bundled package with minutes included. The more call traffic you expect, the lower you can expect your average cost-per-minute to be.

Setup Fee

A one-time fee charged to activate your service. Many countries have high setup costs for the provider, making this fee necessary. But, this is not the case in the UK. Most competitive providers will not charge a setup fee to begin using their service.

User Extensions

The small monthly cost of each line you have connected to your UK business phone number. Your forwarding number should automatically include at least one user extension.

Add-on Features

The price of additional business features with your forwarding number. Many providers advertise low prices but charge add-on fees for basic features. This guide includes more information on which features you should expect to be included with any business phone number service.

uk business phone number features

Get the Most Out of Your UK Call Forwarding Service

We have good news for you. The market for UK forwarding numbers is highly competitive, so you have plenty of companies fighting for your business. With plenty of options, there is no reason you should not be able to get a great deal for your UK business number. But, there are plenty of fly-by-night providers that advertise low prices but overcharge for basic functionality or deliver inconsistent voice quality. Let us offer our best practices for getting the most out of your call forwarding service.

Test Voice Quality

Provisioning forwarding numbers and delivering calls over VoIP is easy. Establishing the global VoIP infrastructure necessary to delivery consistent, crystal clear call quality around the world is not. Beware of small operations that rely on cheap servers in one or two locations. You want a provider that guarantees consistent uptime (99.9% or more) and is transparent about their MOS. MOS, or Mean Opinion Score, is the most common measurement of call quality used by VoIP providers. AVOXI established multiple data centers on three continents before becoming a worldwide leader in VoIP call quality, achieving global MOS standards for “good” to “excellent” for 99% of calls in 2018. If a potential provider is not transparent about call quality standards, or claims to not keep track of quality scores like the MOS, beware. Providers like AVOXI allow you to test your UK forwarding number for 30 days risk-free.

Uptime and Redundancy

Nothing halts your business faster than your virtual lines failing to deliver calls. Ask your potential call forwarding service what failover or redundant routing protocols are in place to ensure your customers are able to reach you at all times. There are so many ways a provider may find themselves ill-equipped to deliver consistent service that it deserved its own guide. Check out our in-depth discussions of the problems with toll free number reliability and how to provide toll free number reliability.

Add-On Costs for Basic Features

Beware of providers that offer virtual numbers for low prices but then include add-on costs for basic features that should be included with any service. This is an extremely common tactic among unestablished providers that are trying to get their foot in the door by advertising low prices. Basic features that should be included with your UK business number include:

  • Simultaneous Ringing:
  • Time-of-Day Routing
  • Basic IVR / Auto-Attendant
  • Fax-to-Email
  • Voicemail-to-Email

Another feature is rarely free but is still worth asking about is hosted call recording. If you need call recording for legal, quality assurance, or training purposes, your provider’s call recording rates can make a big difference. In addition to offering low-cost extended recording plans, AVOXI also provides 15 days of free call recording with every account.

Call Conferencing

If your business will be using conference calling on any consistent basis, your this feature will have a big impact on your user experience and call costs. Let’s say you want to connect with your potential customer’s team or other offices in Britain or internationally. You want them to be able to dial-in to a teleconference room with a dedicated call conference number. Does your forwarding provider include this with your service, or will you need to use another service every time you set up a conference call? How much will that cost? Popular UK conferencing services like Conferencecall.co.uk and Powwownow.com charge .058 per-minute from landline and .125 per-minute from mobiles for shared-cost conferencing. AVOXI’s global call conferencing service includes unlimited teleconference rooms for up to 500 participants the option for shared-cost or toll free conferencing numbers for your callers. Our shared-cost UK conferencing rates are only $0.024 from landline or mobile.

Setup Costs, Number Porting, and Cancellation Fees

Your call forwarding number provider is subject to the fees imposed by local carriers around the world. In many countries, it is very expensive to set up a forwarding number for your customers. The UK is not one of those countries. None of the UK business phone numbers included in this guide should include setup costs. In addition, ask potential providers about number portability and cancellation fees. You don’t want a forwarding service that will hold your number hostage if you are not satisfied with their service and want to change providers. A company that is confident in their service won’t charge you a cancellation or porting fees.

UK Freephone Numbers (Toll Free)

A UK freephone number allows callers in the United Kingdom to reach your business toll free. Virtual toll free numbers are easily recognized by 0800 or 0808 dial-codes and establish a professional image for your business. Due to their dial-code, they are often referred to simply as 0800 numbers.

call forwarding uk number

Benefits of Freephone Numbers

The business benefits of a UK freephone number include:

  • 0800 and 0808 numbers establish a professional appearance for callers.
  • Callers are more likely to reach out to companies with a toll free number.
  • Setting up an 0800 number makes a small business or startup company appear more established.
  • Toll free vanity numbers are great for increasing customer interactions and branding efforts.
  • Freephone numbers have become a consumer expectation for retail, insurance, whistleblower, and support lines.
  • UK freephone numbers are portable, so you can keep your number even if you change services.
  • Setting up an 0800 number is usually easy and affordable.
  • Most providers include useful features with these business phone numbers.

UK Freephone Coverage and Restrictions

UK Freephone Number Format

UK toll free numbers include 7 digits following the 0800 or 0808 prefix:

  • 0800-xxx-xxxx
  • 0808-xxx-xxxx

Coverage and Mobile Access

UK freephone numbers can be dialed by anyone in England, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and the Channel Islands. 0800 and 0808 numbers are toll free from mobile devices.

Toll Free Number Porting

In most cases, UK freephone numbers are portable between domestic carriers, though this is not guaranteed. Your toll free number is always portable between international carries.

UK Toll Free Number Pricing

Let’s compare a few examples of 0800 number plans available.

InternationalTollFree.co.uk

£5 ($6.57) per month
  • Landline: £0.03 ($0.039) per minute. No Package Plans.
  • Mobile: £0.05 ($0.066) per minute. No Package Plans.
  • Setup Fee: £5 - £20 ($6.57 - $26.26)
  • Fax-to-Email: £1.99 ($2.50)
  • Voicemail: £2.99 ($3.88)
  • Divert on Busy: £1.99 ($2.50)
  • Time-of-Day-Routing: £4.99 ($6.48)
  • Call Recording: £9.99 ($12.97)
  • IVR / Virtual Attendant: £9.99 ($12.97)
  • Simultaneous Ringing: £3.50

Similar Plan from AVOXI

£9.57 ($12.49) per month
  • Landline: Includes 100 Minutes. Additional £0.073 ($0.095)
  • Mobile: Includes 100 Minutes. Additional £.073 ($0.095)
  • Setup Fee: None
  • Fax-to-Email: Included
  • Voicemail: Included
  • Divert on Busy: Included
  • Time-of-Day-Routing: Included
  • Call Recording: 15 Days Free
  • IVR / Virtual Attendant: Included
  • Simultaneous Ringing: Included

National 03 Numbers

Numbers with the 03 prefix are used as “non-geographic” national numbers by businesses and other organizations. 03 number callers pay the same rate as dialing a standard 01 or 02 local number. Businesses commonly use the 0330 prefix, while 030 prefixes are designated for public sector organizations and nonprofits. These numbers were introduced by Ofcom in 2007.

uk forwarding number icon

Benefits of 03 Phone Numbers

The benefits of setting up a 03 number include:

  • 03 numbers establish a national presence for your business.
  • UK callers only pay local call rates when calling 03 numbers, no matter where their call is forwarded.
  • Setting up 03 numbers makes a smaller companies appear more established.
  • In most cases, 03 numbers are portable.
  • Setting up an 03 number in the UK is simple and cost-effective.

Most providers include useful business features with your 03 phone number.

03 Number Coverage and Restrictions

03 Number Format

UK toll free numbers include 7 digits following the 0800 or 0808 prefix:

  • 030x-xxx-xxxx
  • 033x-xxx-xxxx
  • 034x-xxx-xxxx
  • 037x-xxx-xxxx

Coverage and Mobile Access

UK freephone numbers can be dialed by anyone in the UK. Dialing from abroad may be permitted depending on your service provider, but these calls will be subject to long-distance call charges. Mobile callers pay the same to call 03 numbers as they would dialing a local 01 or 02 number.

03 Number Porting

In most cases, 03 phone numbers are portable between domestic and international carriers.

03 Number Pricing

Let’s compare a few examples of 03 number plans available.

Number Supermarket

£9.99 ($13) per month
  • Landline: Includes 250 minutes. Additional £0.02 ($0.26) per minute
  • Mobile: Includes 50 minutes. Additional £0.06 ($0.078) per minute
  • Setup Fee: None

Similar Plan from AVOXI

£6.12 ($7.99) per month
  • Landline: Includes 339 Minutes. Additional £0.034 ($0.044)
  • Landline: Includes 339 Minutes. Additional £0.034 ($0.044)
  • Setup Fee: None

UK Local Numbers

A local UK virtual number allows callers in the United Kingdom to reach your business toll free. 01 and 02 UK virtual numbers build credibility at a local level. In addition, these numbers can be dialed from abroad, though long-distance charges will apply.

uk virtual number forwarding

Benefits of UK Local Numbers

The benefits of setting up local virtual numbers include:

  • 01 and 02 numbers project a local presence for your business.
  • Callers are more likely to interact with dial-codes they recognize.
  • Setting up an 0800 number makes a large enterprise feel more localized.
  • Local vanity numbers improve advertising efforts and make your company stand out.
  • Local numbers are affordable.
  • Most providers include useful features with these business phone numbers.

Local Coverage and Restrictions

Local Number Format

UK local numbers include 7 digits following the 0800 or 0808 prefix:

  • 01xx-xxx-xxxx
  • 02xx-xxx-xxxx

Coverage and Mobile Access

Local 01 and 02 numbers can be dialed by anyone in the UK. These numbers can be reached from abroad, but will be subject to long-distance charges. Mobile callers pay a rate determined by their personal carrier.

Local Number Porting

Local UK numbers are portable. However, the speed and ease of the porting process are dependent on individual carriers.

UK Local Number Pricing

Let’s compare a few examples of local UK number plans available.

TollFreeForwarding.com

£14.55 ($19) per month
  • Minutes: 801 included.
  • Additional Minutes: £0.033 ($0.043)
  • Setup Fee: None

Similar Plan from AVOXI

£13 ($16.99) per month
  • Minutes Included: 864 Minutes.
  • Additional Minutes: £0.028 ($0.037)
  • Setup Fee: None

Additional Resources

In addition to the information presented in this guide, resources you may find useful include:

Top UK Toll Free Number Providers

UK 03 and Freephone Number Changes

How Much Does a VoIP Phone System Cost