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What is a Universal International Freephone Number (UIFN)?

Do you have customers in different parts of the world and are struggling to maintain unified communications? In this guide, we share everything there is to know about UIFN, or universal international freephone numbers.

What is a UIFN?

A Universal International Freephone Number, also known as UIFN, is a unique type of international toll free number that can be dialed the same across 45 different countries. These numbers enable customers to receive a single freephone number for multiple countries. The UIFN program is administered by the International Telecommunication Union.

Universal International Freephone Number Format

A UIFN is formatted as a fixed 11-digit phone number. It starts with a 3-digit code to enable toll-free service, such as 800, followed by an 8-digit global subscriber number (GSN). For example, +800 00123456, where 800 is the country code and 00123456 is the GSN. However, dial-out prefixes may need to be entered before dialing the UIFN to connect to the right business.

UIFN Benefits

There are many benefits to getting a universal toll free number. Here are the top 3 reasons why you should get a UIFN.

1. Global Coverage: UIFN is available in 45 different countries, so if your business conducts operations globally, then a universal toll free number can make your business accessible in multiple countries through a single number.

2. One Number: Companies with multiple office locations or branches can easily benefit from a UIFN. For example, an international company with several branches, a small business with remote offices, or a university with global campuses. With a universal toll free number, you have one number that connects your entire business across the globe.

3. Easy to Advertise: Plus, it is much easier to advertise for one number instead of multiple numbers for the different locations you are targeting.

UIFN Restrictions

While there are many UIFN benefits, the technology does have some important restrictions to note. The most important restriction to note is the list of countries where UIFN is available. The second major UIFN restriction is mobile-accessibility. Finally, subscribers should consider that dial-out codes vary across countries.

UIFN Country List

While it seems appealing to have a single number that works everywhere in the world, the reality is that not every country is involved in the ITU program. Here is a list of UIFN countries:

Argentina Australia Austria Belarus Belgium
Brazil Bulgaria Canada China Colombia
Costa Rica Cyprus Czech Rep Denmark Finland
France Germany Hong Kong Hungary Ireland
Israel Italy Japan Latvia Luxembourg
Macau Malaysia Netherlands New Zealand Norway
Philippines Poland Portugal Russia Singapore
Slovenia South Africa South Korea Spain Sweden
Switzerland Taiwan Thailand U.K Uruguay

Mobile Accessibility

Universal toll free numbers are only mobile-accessible in a handful of countries. In certain countries, the number cannot be reached at all from a mobile phone. This is really important to note because more than 50% of people only have cell phone service. You should consult with your customers to find out what percentage of them use mobile phones.

Dialing Conventions

While dialing conventions are pretty standard across the United States, dial-out conventions vary across UIFN countries. For example, certain countries require callers to dial 00 before the number, while other countries require 01. It can be difficult to communicate this information to customers.

In order to avoid irregular dialing conventions, we recommend that businesses properly communicate this information to their customers. This helps avoid any common problems associated with UIFN.