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 a UIFN or universal international freephone number.
- What is a UIFN? Everything You Need to Know
- UIFN Country List
- How to Dial a UIFN Number
- UIFN or ITFS
What is a UIFN? Everything You Need to Know
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.
Benefits of Using a UIFN
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.
Universal Toll Free Number 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 dialing conventions may vary across countries.
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 roughly one-in-five people only have cell phone service. You should consult with your customers to find out what percentage of them use mobile phones.
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.
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:
|Costa Rica||Italy||Philippines||United Kingdom|
|Finland||Luxembourg||Saint Pierre and Miquelon|
How to Dial a UIFN Number?
Now that you have a better understanding of how UIFN numbers work, let’s look at how to dial a UIFN number. 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, assigned to them by the ITU. This is 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.
Customers from anywhere in the world can dial and call a UIFN number without being charged for the call. However, the format varies depending on which country is being called. The format generally is:
And so, to successfully dial a UIFN number, customers need to know the appropriate international phone prefix. Then, they can add 800 and dial the rest of your UIFN number. Always confirm with your provider what your customers will need to dial to reach you.
As you can see, the process to dial a universal toll free number can be slightly complicated. Additionally, when dialing, customers may not recognize this number as a toll free number. They are typically more accustomed to 800 numbers or their national toll free number formats.
UIFN or ITFS
You’ve probably already asked yourself which would be better for your company, UIFN or ITFS. While the concept of UIFN is great in principle, there are some drawbacks to be aware of.
- UIFN coverage is limited and certain countries do not have mobile access.
- In the countries where UIFN is available, callers must be aware of unique dialing conventions.
- There is a high cost and lengthy setup time.
We have many customers that prefer ITFS numbers instead of UIFN because of the wider global coverage available through ITFS. In addition, ITFS numbers generally have much fewer restrictions and can be set up rather quickly. It should be determined on a case-by-case basis which option is better for your business.
Universal Coverage with UIFN Numbers
If you want to expand your business globally and work with customers from different countries, then getting a UIFN number is a good place to start. You could also purchase multiple local access numbers for a cheaper rate. Customers are more likely to dial local numbers instead of numbers they don’t recognize. For more information call 1 (561) 908-6171.