What are International Phone Numbers?

When reaching customers on a global scale, businesses must establish a reliable and secure telephone system that directs calls from anywhere in the world to an established line of the business owner's choosing. International phone numbers allow businesses to field calls from other countries, which may have different dialing protocols, with the uniformity and consistency of a single number, which can be local or toll free.

Virtual Phone Numbers

Virtual phone numbers — sometimes referred to as DID for "direct inward dialing" or DDI for "direct dial-in" in Europe — are phone numbers that aren't associated with a direct phone line, but instead redirect incoming calls to any number of lines chosen by the owner of the virtual phone number. Virtual phone numbers can be paired with local or toll-free exchanges, and route calls that originated from the public switched telephone network (PSTN), voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) networks or cellular phones. This means that even rudimentary systems can route calls originating from landlines, cell phones and the Internet, from anywhere in the world. With a virtual number, a business instantly gains international presence.


A universal international freephone number, or UIFN, attaches an extra digit to a toll-free number. With this 11-digit format, the modified number is able to remain otherwise unchanged throughout the entire world. 1-800-LAWYERS would become +8000-LAWYERS, allowing the business to retain its unique, recognizable vanity number, while letting its call center be accessed from anywhere in the world. Travis May, CEO of TollFreeForwarding, mentions that “with this simple variation, businesses can significantly extend their reach while remaining brand integrity in their telecommunications initiatives. This results in almost effortless international customer engagement.”


When searching for an international phone number, businesses soon learn that there are competing companies that offer similar services. Each business has different needs depending on its industry, size and location. There are, however, some universal features that should be offered by any firm you are considering as the provider of an international phone number. Unless the circumstances are extraordinary, there shouldn't be set-up fees. You should also be able to begin using the number within just a few moments of activation. You should also be able to pick your own number. Avoid companies that require monthly or long-term contracts. Although not necessarily indicative of a questionable ethics or competence, you can avoid this hassle by hiring one of the many services that have "cancel anytime" policies.

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