What Are International Toll Free Numbers?

10th October 2022

Have you ever tried calling a business number from abroad, only to find enormous charges on your next phone bill? If you’re helping customers from overseas, imagine how they feel when they have to call your UK 0800 number!

International toll-free numbers allow international callers to reach you without paying a penny. This makes a huge difference to your brand image and to your repeat custom – but there are more benefits you should know about, too.

business owner dismayed over the phone

How can an international toll-free number help me?

Here’s a quick summary of why setting up an international toll-free number makes all the difference.

  • You can connect any UK number to a toll-free line, based in more than 120 countries
  • Your customers never have to worry about call charges, no matter where they are
  • You can start to grow your business overseas
  • You’ll appear more credible to customers
  • There’s no need to open international offices – you’ll save money
  • You don’t need any complicated equipment or new installations

ITFNs: the basics

ITFNs are telephone lines that your customers can call to reach you for free. Just as you’d call an 0800 line in the UK, or an 888 line in the US, you can call an ITFN almost anywhere in the world and not have to pay per-minute fees.

Planet Telecom, in fact, supports ITFNs in over 120 countries worldwide. You simply provide a UK number you’d like your ITFN calls to reach, and your customers will be routed straight through to your chosen office.

As with freephone numbers in the UK, you essentially pay for the cost of calls received. We set this at a highly competitive rate, meaning your flat service rate and pay for themselves in the short term.

How do international toll-free numbers work?

When customers dial an ITFN, they connect directly to your office – but the number they call is slightly different to your UK standard. It’s modified so that people can call from anywhere in the world.

An ITFN works a little bit like a middleman or a switchboard. We provide you with an ITFN, and we then route this call through to your chosen UK line regardless of where people call from.

You can change your destination line in the UK anytime with Planet Telecom. Moreover, you can even track where calls are coming from, so you can adjust any marketing and advertising if you need to.

There’s only ever one number you need to give to international clients, too. That makes it nice and easy for you to encourage calls from all over the world – and it’s simple for you to keep track.

What types of ITFNs are there?

There are three types of toll free numbers that are easy to confuse with each other – so here’s a quick breakdown.

TFNs (Domestic)

Domestic toll-free numbers, or TFNs, are only free to call within your country. For example, a UK caller can dial an 0800 number without paying charges per minute.

Calling domestic TFNs overseas will connect you to the right people, but at a high cost. These charges vary depending on the network, meaning your international callers are likely to avoid 0800 lines full stop.

ITFNs (International)

ITFNs are the standard lines for call forwarding all over the world. Your customers have one number that reaches a UK line of your choice.

You’ll need to pay call fees per minute and a standard monthly charge to run an IFTN. For example, Planet Telecom offers a single global number from £9.99 per month.

UIFNs (Universal International Freephone Number)

UIFNs are similar to ITFNs but are a little more limited. These lines run through the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and operate in 45 different countries.

Like ITFNs, you only need to share one number with your global callers. They call this line and connect to your UK office. In many ways, ITFNs are more cost-effective than UIFNs, and provide greater flexibility and reach.

What is an international virtual phone number?

International virtual phone numbers let your overseas callers dial your UK office at local or national rates. For example, if you’d like to reach customers in Tokyo, you may set up a virtual number with a Japanese phone prefix.

Like ITFNs, IVPNs re-route international calls to any UK line or office number, and your callers pay less for the privilege. While they don’t get free calls through an IVPN, rates are still massively reduced.

International virtual numbers also cost you and your business less, too – as you don’t have to pay for call charges. With Planet Telecom, you simply pay your set-up fee and a monthly service charge. IVPNs offer a midpoint that reduces costs for companies and customers.

How can ITFNs benefit businesses?

At Planet Telecom, we’ve helped thousands of businesses in hundreds of niches save money, find new customers and build reputations through ITFNs.

Expand your customer base

If you’re a smaller business looking to expand overseas, the first step is to set up an online store or service platform. But what if your international customers want to call you directly?

By setting up an ITFN, your callers will feel more comfortable calling you – they won’t be counting the pennies as your conversations roll on! For businesses such as independent crafters, manufacturers and homeware retailers, this means international callers can confidently reach out for help, leave feedback or re-invest with you over the phone.

Boost your reputation

If you run a school or other public service, reputation is everything. Did you know, however, that simply having a freephone number can help to boost your public image? This goes doubly for reaching overseas callers, too!

Setting up an ITFN demonstrates that you’re happy to pay for all the calls you receive. To the average caller, a small, charitable touch sets you apart from your competitors.

Keeping overseas lines free and open for businesses that revolve around international customs, such as forex traders, makes you all the more appealing in a highly competitive world.

Save money, build revenue

Rather than having to set up international call centres and offices, simply keep your customer service team at home – and let overseas callers come to you.

You’ll save thousands on paying wages, rental costs, and insurance rates for a minimal monthly, and per-minute cost. In time, you may need to boost your staff numbers in-house – but at least you can manage them all from one location!

Is an ITFN a good idea in times of inflation?

An international toll-free number is ideal for growing and retaining customers in times of financial uncertainty – because free lines will always stand out to customers. Even if inflation continues to rise, the appeal of an international free line will only continue to grow. People want – and need to – save money. You’re doing them an enormous favour by cutting call costs outright.

The costs you incur, meanwhile, are minimal and in line with potential revenue. By appealing to more customers overseas, you can boost your bottom line and afford to give your callers a little helping hand.

As and when inflation falls again, your company will be well-established as one that genuinely cares for its customers.

CEO presenting

How can Planet Telecom help me?

Planet Telecom offers a flexible, far-reaching solution to help your overseas customers call you for free. We understand that times are tight for most people now, so we’re keeping our ITFN rates competitive and affordable for all.

We’ll help you set up and manage your own ITFN through a super-simple online dashboard. We’ll help you change your UK destination numbers when you wish, and can keep your single, global number running in the background. You don’t need any super-fancy equipment or deep technical knowledge – and you’ll be ready to go in minutes.

Don’t restrict your business for the sake of money. There’s an incredible value – and potential – in making your calls free for people worldwide who really need you.

Ready to learn more? Call Planet Telecom now, or drop us an email, and we’ll get back in touch. It’s time to go global – for less!