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Can I use Google Voice when overseas?

On what devices can I use Google Voice outside US with CactusVPN?

  • Windows
  • macOS
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Android TV
  • LinuxUbuntu
  • AmazonFire TV
  • Fire TVStick
  • SamsungSmart TV
  • LG TV
  • Apple TV
  • Roku
  • PlayStation
  • XBOX

FAQ: How To Make International Calls With Google Voice

If you’re still on the fence on whether you should create a Google Voice VoIP phone number, you may have more questions. I’ve done what I could to answer those inquiries by aggregating various questions about the service from around the internet.

Can Google Voice Be Used Internationally? Yes, you can use Google Voice internationally if you have already registered for a Google Voice number while still in the United States. With that said, you can’t register for a Google Voice number overseas. While you could use specific virtual private networks (VPN) to make yourself appear inside the US and register for a Google Voice number, doing so apparently violates their terms of service. After reading through their terms of service, I cannot confirm whether this information is correct. Therefore, proceed with caution if you decide to use a VPN. Also, I can’t recommend any specific VPNs to register for a Google Voice number overseas. Is Google Voice Free for International Calls? Google Voice isn’t free when making international calls—unless you’re calling Canada, which is free. You will need to read Google Voice rates to see how much of your balance you’ll lose whenever you make an international call.

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How does Google Voice work?

Google Voice is surprisingly simple in how it works and how you can set it up.

The service works over a broadband connection, so as long as you’re connected to your home or office network, it’ll work just fine.

When you sign up for the first time, you have the option of using your own phone number that you can port to the service or getting your own. If you choose the latter, you’ll need to input your area code and pick the phone number of choice. If you care about the phone number’s digits (like if you’re a business and want to get a vanity number people can dial), you can input your desired digits and see if they’re available.

Once you have your phone number (it happens immediately), you can create your voicemail message. You can then start making calls from your phone or your computer. You can also use the service to send and receive text messages.

When you get a voicemail in Google Voice, you’ll be able to access it in the app and get a transcript (and recording) of it sent to your e-mail. 

When you receive a call, especially if you have your Google Voice forwarded to your cell phone, you’ll hear an alert that someone is calling the Google Voice number. You’ll then have the option of answering or not. And if you decide to call back, you can decide to have your Google Voice number show up on the person’s caller ID instead of your iPhone or Android device’s number.

And if you want to have your number ring to multiple devices, that’s perfectly fine. It’s especially handy in corporate settings, where multiple people may want to answer the company’s line.

How to Use Google Voice While Traveling

So those features all sound great, but it’s how th

So those features all sound great, but it’s how they function in the real world that matters. Fortunately, for the most part, they work pretty well.

Because Google Voice works internationally just like it does in the US, having a number that’s available across devices anywhere in the world comes in very handy. It works on a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, using any Wi-Fi network or cellular data you have access to.

Here are several examples of how Google Voice has been particularly useful to me on the road.

Using Services like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb

No matter where I am in the world, as soon as I get a data connection, I’m contactable by drivers and hosts.

Sure, in some cases they could get in touch with me via the app, but Uber/Lyft drivers in particular much prefer to call you to confirm details. I’ve answered dozens of calls and texts asking about my exact location, or when I’ll arrive at my accommodation.

Also, since Lyft is only available in the US, it wants you to have a US phone number when creating your account. The first time I tried to do so with a Google Voice number, it refused to accept it, but when I returned to the US a couple of years later, the same number worked just fine. What changed? I’ve no idea.

Getting Security Verification Texts and Calls

Probably the best aspect for me is the ability to receive verification texts and calls from any company that wants to send them. I get authentication texts or phone calls from my bank, several apps, and Google itself, all on my phone or in my browser, any time, anywhere.

Whether I’m sending money to someone, resetting my password, or just logging in from a different location, verification is quick and easy.

That said, some banks and apps have started detecting virtual numbers in recent years, and either refusing to let you use them or silently not sending the text. It’s frustrating, but if it’s prevented by the company, there’s little you can do about it other than use a normal carrier number instead.

You may be able to request a verification phone call instead (it’s worked for me on occasion when the text failed,) but not all services provide this option. Such calls could also have the same issue if the company decides to block virtual numbers with those as well, so it’s not a guaranteed workaround.

Getting Updates from Airlines

I always enter my Google Voice number when booking plane tickets, since many carriers will text updates on flight delays or cancelations. As long as I’ve got Wi-Fi or cell data, they’ll pop up as if they’re a standard SMS, and I’ll know what’s happening immediately.

Free Phone Calls to North America

I don’t need to call US or Canadian numbers particularly often, but it does happen a few times a year. When it does, not having to pay a cent for it is rather nice, especially if it’s a company where I’ll sit on hold for 20 minutes before talking to someone. If I had family in North America, I’d use this service all the time.

Cheap Calls to Everywhere Else

While traveling life would be a lot easier if you could do everything online, sometimes you just have to pick up the phone. With the exception of a few obscure destinations, calls to most places with Google Voice are pretty cheap per minute, and call quality is good as long as you’ve got a half-decent internet connection.

Being Contactable by Old-School Companies

While most companies will happily contact you by email or through their app, there are a few old-school ones that won’t. Hello banks, I’m looking at you.

One of my banks absolutely loves to block my debit card, and then call to tell me about it. Without Google Voice, I wouldn’t have a working phone number on record, and the process would be even more annoying than it already is.

Not Being Dependent on One Device

Phones break or get lost all the time, especially while traveling. It happened to me in Thailand just a couple of months ago, but because Google Voice works in a browser as well, my texts and calls kept arriving just fine.

It sounds wonderful and in some ways it is, but Google Voice isn’t perfect. Not every text message arrives, even after repeated tries. Sometimes a call won’t ring on my phone or in the browser, and goes straight to voicemail even if I’m sitting in front of my phone or laptop at the time.

That’s a frustration, but one I accept given (a) I’m not paying for that part of the service, and (b) there are no alternatives that offer as many features, paid or otherwise.

Another minor issue is that transcription of voicemails is obviously automated, and varies between pretty accurate and almost incomprehensible. I find myself needing to download and listen to the actual voicemail over half the time.

How I can make international calls from China?

Dial the international prefix for making calls outside of China, which is 00. Follow with the international code, then the city or area code, and finally the local phone number.

Getting Started with Google Voice

Before your trip overseas, there are a few things you’ll need:

  • An iPhone or Android smartphone
  • An active US phone number
  • A Google account

You can sign up at Google Voice online or through the Google Voice app on Android or iOS.  In either case, you’ll need to download the app. You’ll be using the Google Voice app on your phone to make calls.

After verifying your existing phone number, you can immediately start making and receiving calls with your new Google Voice number.

What are the Limits of Google Voice Overseas?

A Google Voice number is a virtual phone number. While most American banks and companies allow two-factor authentication with virtual numbers, some do not.

A Google Voice number not being recognized as a U.S. phone number is rare.

Porting your number to Google Voice is still the best option to keep your U.S. number when moving abroad.

How to Switch to Google Voice?

There are three steps before you can use your U.S. phone number via Google Voice.

  1. Setup Google Voice. Go to Google Voice and follow carefully the instructions. Pick a Google Voice number. That number will be replaced with your U.S. number after you port it to Google Voice.
  2. Port your U.S. cell phone number to Google Voice.
  3. Install Google Voice app on your iPhone or android phone.

Ringing Multiple Phones

Your Google Voice account supports several configuration settings and preferences, among which is a feature that allows you to set which phones you want to ring when someone calls your Google number. You can enter up to six different numbers to have six different phones or devices ring upon a call. For example, you may have your mobile phone, home phone, and office phone ring.

Here's how to set up multiple phones with Google Voice:

  1. Open your Google Voice settings from the three-dotted menu button on the left side of the Google Voice website.

  2. With the Phone numbers tab selected, locate the Linked numbers section of the settings.

  3. Click or tap New linked number under your existing phone number.

  4. Enter the phone number that should accept Google Voice calls, and select Send Code, or Call if you chose the phone call option.

    If you chose the calling option, you have to click or tap Call once more to start the phone call.

  5. In the space provided on the Google Voice website, enter the code you received over text or heard over the phone call.

  6. Return to the Google Voice settings page from step 1 and open the Calls tab.

  7. Make sure there's a check in the box next to all the relevant phone numbers. If there isn't, put a check in the box next to each number that should ring when a call comes through your Google Voice number.

More Budget Travel Tips

My name is Tony Florida, and I am passionate about traveling the world without spending a fortune. Since quitting my job in 2018, I made it my mission to see the world on the cheap.

This Google Voice blog post is just one of many budget travel blog posts that I’ve written in an attempt to help you see the world on a budget.

Let me know if you have any questions about using Google Voice abroad in the comments below.

International Calling and Other Features from Other Services

If you’re not sure that Google Service is right for you, whether it be the limited number of features or the limited capabilities of international calling this application provides, there are other options for these features. Fortunately, you’re not limited to using a hidden fee service like Google Voice. Companies like United World Telecom offer a number of VoIP services like Google Voice, but offer personalized settings, unlimited virtual phone numbers, and forwarding to any and all devices. If you’re looking for pricing or have questions about VoIP service features from United World Telecom, contact us today.

Resources

How do you make an international call?

To call a phone in another country, dial 011, and then the code for the country you are calling, the area or city code, and the phone number. For example, if you are trying to call someone in Brazil (country code 55), in the city of Rio de Janeiro (city code 21), you would dial 011 – 55 – 21 – XXXX-XXXX.

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