How to Keep Your Phone Number When Moving Overseas

Digital Nomad, Lifestyle, Resources

August 16, 2018

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Moving abroad often means leaving a lot of things behind. We knew this when we decided to quit our jobs in the states and head to Asia. We were fine with having to only bring a few select clothing items and we could live with our favorite American snacks being hard to find. What we just couldn’t accept though was giving up our US phone numbers!

For most of us, our phone number feels as important to us as our Social Security Number. But when you’re moving out of the country, it really doesn’t make sense to keep paying a phone bill for the sake of keeping your number.

Luckily, we were able to find a creative solution that allowed us to keep our phone numbers and keep in touch with friends and family without having to ask them to download another app for their phone. We may have had to leave behind Trader Joe’s and Chick-fil-a but our phone numbers were able to come with us thanks to Google Voice!

Why Port Your Number to Google Voice?

Porting your number when moving abroad means that people back home can still call or text you without having to download 3rd party apps or incur international fees. Google voice forwards all calls, texts, and transcribed voicemails to your inbox as well, so it’s especially helpful for running a business or getting important calls from someone who may not be aware of your number change, such as a bank or doctor’s office.

The Cost

Google voice charges one time fee of $20 to port your number – a steal compared to the cost continuing to pay your service provider to keep your number. Since Google Voice will be taking over your old number, make sure you aren’t in the middle of a contract with your current provider! Otherwise, you could be hit with an early termination fee, making things a lot more expensive. You can port your number back at any time for $3.

So if you decide to move back to America you should have no problem setting up a phone plan again, either with your original number or by simply porting your original number to a new American number (where everyone else still call/text your original number but it rings at your new American number).

How to Port Your Number to Google Voice

First, you’ll need a Google account if you don’t already have one and a working US number. You will also need to start this process before leaving the states.

Step 1: Check To Make Sure That Your Number Can Be Ported Head to google.com/voice/porting and enter your number to see if your number is able to be ported. It seems that most numbers should be (we transferred numbers from AT&T and Verizon).

  Step 2: Verify Your Phone Number – Once you’ve received the good news that your number can be ported, you’ll be notified of a few important things about the effects of porting your number.

  • Your contract with your current provider will be terminated (make sure you’re not under contract!)
  • You may not be able to receive text messages for up to 3 business days. Ours took less, for what it’s worth.
  • Google is not a mobile phone service provider. This one is kind of obvious, but it just means that you’ll still need to get a new number/SIM card in your new country to have data access.

After you’ve checked the boxes and agreed, Google will call your phone and prompt you to enter the code they’ve given you to verify your phone.

   Step 3: Enter Your Account Info for Your Current Provider – Next, you’ll need to enter the information of the provider you’re porting your number from. This information includes:

  • Provider
  • Account Number
  • Pin
  • Last four SSN digits of the account holder
  • Billing Address

  Step 4: Pay Up! – Once you’ve confirmed that the account information is correct, it’s time to pay! You can enter a credit card and pay the $20 fee through Google Payments.

Photo Credit: How To Geek

And all that’s left to do is wait! Your porting process has now begun. So be aware that this may take up to 24 hours and you may not be able to receive/send texts for up to 3 days.

Answering Calls and Texts with Google Hangouts

Now that you’ve ported your number, Google Voice will now send call notifications, texts, and transcribed voicemails to your inbox. But in order to actually to be able to make calls and receive texts overseas, you’ll need to download the Google Hangouts app and:

  • Allow Calls on Wi-Fi and Cellular (or just Wi-Fi if you wish)
  • Allow Answer on Lock Screen – This is optional and fairly self explanatory
  • Allow Incoming Call Ring – turn this on if you don’t have the previous setting on. Otherwise, they serve the same purpose.

Google Hangouts is great because it works over Wi-Fi and data. It can also be used on other devices as long as you’re signed in to your Google account.

That’s it! Your number is now ported and you can take it with you wherever you go!

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How to Keep Your Phone Number When Moving Overseas

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Danang, Vietnam

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