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Which International Phone Number Type is Right for My Business?

Choosing the right type of international phone number for your business.

More than 76% of consumers prefer phone calls for support interactions. This means your business needs a way to offer reliable and convenient voice communication to customers worldwide. In other words, you need the right business phone number, whether your customers are local or international.

There are a few different types of international phone numbers that businesses can use to expand their global reach and provide reliable and uninterrupted service.

To choose the right international phone number, you must first understand the different types of business phone numbers available.

Understanding the Different International Phone Number Types for Business

So, how do you choose which international phone number type is right for your business?

Here are some things to consider before buying an international number for business communication:

  • Which countries do you want to communicate with? Where will customers call from?
  • What is the purpose of these numbers? Global customer support, an internal help desk, sales, etc.
  • How can you expand internationally cost-effectively?
  • Can you conduct business operations virtually?
  • Do you want to establish local points of presence with a physical office and in-house staff?
  • How easy do you want to make it for customers to reach your business?

You can learn more in our Guide to International Phone Numbers.

Based on these questions, you’ll have a better idea of your phone number needs. Now, let’s have a look at the different types of international phone numbers, along with:

  • How each number type works
  • International phone number format
  • Pros and cons
  • Relevant documentation information

Related: Learn about Phone Number Regulatory Compliance

1. Local Phone Numbers (Geographic Numbers)

Local phone numbers are virtual numbers with area codes assigned to particular towns or cities in a country. These local numbers – like national and mobile, and unlike toll-free numbers – can be reached from outside the country as well.

Businesses can have geographic numbers that are tied to specific cities. These are charged at the rate of a local call. They’re good for establishing a local presence overseas, as they enable your business to have an in-country appearance.

Companies can also use local phone numbers as employees’ direct numbers and for more localized campaigns.

Example of a local phone number: 561-xxx-xxxx, where 561 is the Boca Raton, Florida area code or 020-4xxx-xxxx, where 204 is the London area code.


  • Locals recognize local area codes and phone number formats.
  • Establish your local business presence in another country or city.
  • Perfect to use as employees’ direct phone numbers.
  • More effective for hyper-localized marketing campaigns.
  • Increases response and connection rates.
  • Low prices for most target countries.


  • Documentation can be a bit strict, especially for European cities.
  • Businesses share the cost of these calls.
  • Multiple numbers required for different target markets.

2. Toll-Free Numbers

Toll-free numbers are free for callers. In other words, toll-free numbers are free to dial, so the recipient pays for these calls.

These numbers add credibility to businesses (especially for small-to-medium companies) as they present a more comfortable, reliable, and accessible calling solution for customers and prospects. As such, toll-free numbers are ideal for sales, support, and internal help desk hotlines.

However, these numbers can only be reached from within the specified country. And so, they’re not ideal if your company wants to have a single business phone number for multiple countries.

Cloud phone service providers also offer international toll-free numbers. Businesses can get these for different countries and forward incoming calls to desired destinations worldwide. Callers from those countries can call the company for free.

Example of a toll-free phone number: 1-888-xxx-xxxx, where 1-888 is a US and Canada toll-free code.


  • Customers can call your business for free from within the origin country.
  • Locals recognize common, regional toll-free prefixes, such as 800, 1-800, and 0800.
  • Cost-effective way to connect with international customers.
  • Documentation usually isn’t as strict


  • ITFS numbers are not reachable from other countries.
  • Each country requires its own ITFN; multiple numbers are needed for multiple countries.
  • Business bears the costs for these calls.

3. Local 2-Way Numbers

Local 2-way voice is a cloud telephony service that lets users make outbound calls with a local phone number while displaying an in-country caller ID. In other words, this solution ensures that calls made from your local number are guaranteed to reach—even if you’re not calling from within that country or region—and will show that region’s local caller ID. Since these are local phone numbers, they will adhere to country and region-specific local phone number formats.

Example of a local 2-way number: 03 9xxx-xxxx, where 39 is the Melbourne, Australia area code


  • Local inbound and outbound calling with one local number.
  • Guaranteed in-country caller IDs.
  • Locals recognize local area codes and phone number formats.
  • Establish your local business presence in another country or city.
  • Increases response and connection rates.

  • Businesses share the cost of these calls.
  • Multiple numbers required for different target markets.

4. National Numbers

National numbers are similar to local numbers, except they’re not tied to a specific city. However, you can use these numbers to establish your business presence in a country. In other words, they help you develop a more nationwide presence instead of a citywide presence. These numbers are usually reachable from anywhere in the world.

Example of a national number: 0330-xxx-xxxx, where 330 is the national code of the UK.


  • Not tied to particular cities.
  • Accessible from throughout the target country.
  • Charged the same as local numbers. Good alternative to local numbers because the documentation is less strict.


  • Customers are more familiar with the local area codes of their cities.
  • International access is limited.

5. Mobile Numbers

Mobile numbers are like cell phone numbers. They’re reachable from anywhere in the world, and some even have incoming SMS capabilities.

What sets mobile numbers apart is that they work very well as employees’ direct phone numbers. Employees can include this business contact number in their sales pitches, support outreach, and email signatures to encourage more connections.

Example of a mobile number: 0xxx-xxx-xxx for Australia mobile numbers.


  • Offer customers a convenient way to communicate with your business.
  • Engage customers through a medium they are comfortable with.
  • Reduce call volume by offering another communication channel.


  • Lacks comprehensive country coverage.
  • Mobile numbers do not work for OTP verification (messaging or social media verification such as WhatsApp, etc.).
  • Text messages can be forwarded to business email addresses.

Choosing Your International Business Number

Business phone numbers are important for developing strong relationships with your customers, prospects, and vendors.

As you can see, there are a few different ways to integrate international phone numbers into your communication stack. Even if you already have a business number, you can use other international numbers to target new markets and extend your support coverage.

Check out our Country Coverage to see if we cover your target countries.

Still unsure what’s the right choice for your business? Our experts and consultants at Global Call Forwarding can help you find the perfect solution for your communication needs. Call us at +1 (561) 908-6171 or chat with us online.

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