Toll free numbers help businesses build trust and loyalty with new customers without the cost of relocating or opening a new office. There are three types of international toll free numbers and understanding and comparing these is important for businesses looking to expand to new markets. Each type of toll free number has unique benefits depending on the audience you’re trying to target. As leading providers of international toll free phone numbers, we receive a lot of questions regarding the types available. This is a guide to help you identify the type of toll free number that best meets your business requirements.

Phone and sign pointing to different countries on a map

International Toll Free Numbers

Traditional international toll free numbers are country-specific. This means a caller in Spain can dial a Spain toll free number for free – making foreign businesses more accessible for local audiences without a need for expansion. Calls made to an international toll free number can be forwarded to mobile, landlines, and VoIP softphones. This helps businesses overcome challenges such as time differences and provide the same quality service they offer their customers at home.

International toll free numbers are primarily used by companies that have customers in multiple geographic regions. If a business based in the US has customers in the UK and Spain, their customers in those countries can dial the business’ toll-free number with no charge. Forwarding these calls to their main office makes it easier for these companies to provide the best possible customer service for their global audience.

Domestic Toll Free Numbers

Domestic toll free numbers are very similar to international toll free numbers. These numbers can be called by anyone in the country where it’s located – for example, Spanish callers can make calls to Spanish domestic toll free numbers for free. The biggest difference between the two is that domestic toll free numbers come with fewer restrictions.

Businesses that want their customers to be able to call them from any device, including mobile phones and payphones, should look to invest in domestic toll free numbers.

Universal International Freephone Numbers (UIFN)

Universal international freephone numbers, or UIFN numbers, are the closest thing you’ll find to a global toll free number. Similar to international and domestic numbers, they’re free for your customers to call, but these numbers can be applied to multiple countries. This means local customers in Spain and Germany, for example, could both contact your business through the same number.

UIFN numbers are available in 40 countries around the world. If you’re thinking about buying a UIFN number, there are a few things you should remember:

 

UIFN numbers:

  • Must be registered in at least two countries
  • Require a significant setup fee
  • Incur costs for each different county – the more countries the more expensive
  • Have a different dialing format to toll free numbers – won’t be as recognizable to local customers

Businesses who want to provide their customers with a single phone number to reach customer support or management commonly enquire about UIFN numbers. It’s important to note that UIFN numbers may not be recognized as free to call by all your customers and are less trusted than international or domestic toll free numbers. UIFN numbers also aren’t available in every country – it’s important you have the countries you want to target in mind before you speak to potential providers.

a team of colleagues working around a table with a globe on it

Types of Toll Free Format – 800, 888, 877, 866, 844, 855, and 833

Toll free numbers also come in seven different formats – 800, 888, 877, 866, 844, 855, and 833. There are no differences between each format other than appearance, none of them cost any more or are any more difficult to acquire or operate than the others. These formats can be compared to web domains; there are no differences between .net, .org, or country codes – they technically all work the same. Choosing your toll free number format comes down to your business requirements and the new market you’re looking to target. Certain companies might find certain formats more recognizable – choosing this number will help you build trust and loyalty with your new audience. Many businesses also base their entire brand around these numbers, such as 1-800-FLOWERS or 1-800-CONTACTS. You must decide how central your new toll free number will be to your business and how each format could help you serve your customers and represent your brand.

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions we receive regarding toll free number formats:

Are 877 numbers toll free?

Yes, 877 numbers are free and work exactly the same as traditional 800 toll free numbers. The only difference is the prefix.

Are 833 numbers toll free?

Yes, like 877 numbers, 833 numbers are toll free and the only difference is the prefix.

Are 888 numbers toll free?

Yes, 888 numbers are toll free. The only difference between 888 numbers and other toll free number formats is the prefix.

man working in a call center

Identifying An International Toll Free Number For Your Business

Businesses can have very different targets when looking to purchase toll free numbers. There are also multiple different types of toll free numbers making choosing the right numbers for your business model a little more complex. Generally, we have found that the following industries benefit from different types of toll free number:

Toll free numbers for retail/consumer goods and insurance

Companies working in retail/consumer goods and insurance usually have customers in a few countries. It’s recommended and more cost-effective to purchase 2-3 international toll free numbers rather than investing in a UIFN number.

Toll free numbers for hospitality

Hospitality is separated into two sectors: travel and accommodation. Most hospitality companies have clients from a wide variety of countries – meaning they could benefit from a UIFN number. Since customers are unlikely to be familiar with local phone number formatting, it’s better to provide customers with a single phone number for customer service in-country.

Toll free numbers for technical support

Companies working in technical support usually provide service to customers based in-country. Some support one or two nations outside the country where their main office is located – but businesses working in technical support should use both international toll free numbers and domestic toll free numbers. This is so their customers have an easy way of contacting them at no charge.

 

If you’re looking for international toll free numbers, you can explore the different services we provide here.