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Home » Learn » What is an ITFS Number and How Does it Work?

What is an ITFS Number and How Does it Work?

A photo of a man using ITFS numbers

What is an ITFS Number?

ITFS stands for International Toll Free Service. An ITFS Number is an international toll free number that can be called with no charge to the person making the call. ITFS numbers enable callers from a certain country to dial a phone number in a different country without being charged a long-distance fee.

How Does an ITFS Number Work?

While the person making the call does not incur any charge, the person or business that subscribes to the international toll free service gets billed for incoming call activity.

An ITFS number works by forwarding incoming calls internationally. Calls made to an ITFS number can be delivered to other countries using public switched telephone networks (PSTN) or Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

International toll free service is particularly useful for customer support and sales in other countries. Let’s assume that a business located in the United States has customers in China. That business would get a China ITFS number. Customers in China could dial the number for free and those calls could be answered in the United States or anywhere else in the world!

International Toll Free Service versus Direct Inward Dial

Direct Inward Dialing (DID) is a telephone service that enables incoming calls to ring through to a specific phone instead of going to a menu. ITFS also enables incoming calls to bypass a menu and go directly to a phone.

However, the calling party is usually charged a local fee when calling a DID number. Calls to an ITFS number, on the other hand, are completely free of charge.

ITFS Format

The format of ITFS numbers signals to callers that the phone number can be dialed for free. Depending on the country of origination, international toll free service numbers usually start with 800, 0800, or 1800.

International Toll Free Service Around the World

ITFS is available from more than 160 countries around the world. However, the format of the numbers and overall perception can vary across different countries.

United States

For a foreign company wishing to establish a virtual market presence in the United States, the world’s largest economy, a US ITFS number is essential to your success. An ITFS number gives domestic callers access to your company. It allows customers in the United States to reach your foreign offices and virtual call centers at no cost to the customer. Prospective customers and business contacts are more likely to reach out to your company if the call is free.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is a major participant in global business, and is a politically authoritative and economically dominant country. Therefore, companies would do well to establish a virtual presence there. Businesses in any country can establish a virtual presence in the UK with an ITFS number. The company simply needs to buy a UK toll free number and forward the calls to the intended destination, anywhere in the world.

Toll free prefixes in the UK are primarily 800 and 0808, but 0500 is still used. Toll free numbers are free to call from within the UK, bust the cost of calls to the toll free subscriber is dependent upon the international destination. For example, the cost of calls to a business located in the USA differs from calls made to a virtual call center in India.

Germany

Telephone numbers in Germany are confusing because they vary in length. They contain both geographical and non-geographical codes. Cities with larger populations have shorter numbers. Older telephone numbers are also shorter. Therefore, if your company subscribes to a Germany ITFS number, callers in Germany can reach you with ease. They caller can simply dial a toll free number, and not an international dialing code plus an area code, while also paying for the call. 

China

China has a population of more than 1.3 billion people. Even the smallest company can gain access to this enormous consumer market, and project an international image in China with an ITFS number. The company simply needs to sign up for an international call forwarding service from China with an ITFS number. This will help the company grow its virtual business presence in China, and enable the firm to compete with large multinational organizations.

A China ITFS number will forward calls from China to a destination anywhere in the world. Call quality is important, and subscribers should look for a service provider that uses Tier 1 network carriers to forward calls from China. 

UAE

The UAE is a rapidly emerging market and business center in Western Asia. GCF provides ITFS numbers for the UAE as either 8000 plus 6-digit toll free numbers or local numbers with a +971 area code. These numbers allow foreign businesses to establish a virtual business presence in the UAE region. Many businesses have both 8000 toll free numbers and local numbers to provide toll free call forwarding to their customers.

If you have these numbers, consider utilizing attendants who are fluent in local dialects and languages. Because of time-zone differences, subscribers should consider setting up a free Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system that allows a computer greeting system to receive incoming calls from UAE and route them to the appropriate destination based on voice or keypad commands. By using IVR, your customers will appreciate you having gone out of your way to serve them.

India

India is one of the largest countries in the world. Its land area is just under 3 million sq km, and its population is approaching 1.3 billion. The GDP growth rate is 7.6%. Many Indian customers transact with foreign businesses using the internet and emails. However, businesses extend their reach in India by subscribing to an India ITFS number. An India toll free number gives customers in India a free way to call your business, and will encourage prospects and business contacts to reach out. A toll free forwarding service can be used to route calls from India to your business anywhere in the world.

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