Keeping Your US Cell Phone Number Abroad

Hello! This is Andy and this is my first blog post on AlmontesAbroad, and of course its one about technology. Today’s post is about how to keep your US cell phone number and (inexpensively) have all your calls/texts for that number forwarded to a new UK mobile number.

If you’re like me, your cell phone number is important to you. You’ve had it for years (over a decade in my case) and you’ve given it out to family, friends, co-workers, business acquaintances, etc all throughout those years. Every once in a while you get a call or text from one of them and they are pleasantly surprised and grateful that your number hasn’t changed.

So here is the big picture of how this setup works. We’ll dive into the details of each step:

  1. Port your US cell phone number to Google Voice
  2. Get a localphone.com US number
  3. Get a UK mobile number
  4. Setup Google Voice -> Localphone forwarding
  5. Setup Localphone -> UK Mobile number forwarding

Step 1

Google Voice (voice.google.com) is a Google product designed to manage phone numbers via the Internet. Google Voice provides many features but we’re only concerned with two:

1) Google Voice allows you to port your current US mobile number to their service and

2) Once ported you can forward calls and texts to another US number.

Porting your number into Google Voice is not a difficult process. It will cost you a one-time fee of $20 payable via Google Wallet. Part of the porting process requires verification via call, so you must be able to receive a phone call to the number you are trying to port.

There are some caveats about Google Voice that must be stated. Google Voice is only meant for US numbers and there are some parts of the porting process that require you to be logged in from a US IP address. Alternatively, you need to make it seem as if you’re connected from a US IP address. There are proxy and VPN services like ‘hola.org that allow you to do this. Although not difficult to complete this process while abroad, I’d still recommend porting your number right before leaving the US instead of waiting till you arrive at your destination.

So, once your number has been ported over you’re going to want Google Voice to forward it to another number. Now ideally, you would just want Google Voice to forward it to a UK mobile number but unfortunately they can only forward to another US number. This is where step 2 comes in.

Step 2

Localphone.com is a VoIP (Voice over IP) provider. They have some features similar to what Google Voice provides and some that Google does not. In particular, Localphone allows you to acquire a local phone number in almost any country. Calls to that local phone number can then be forwarded to any phone number in the world. There are some costs for this forwarding service but its fairly cheap (roughly 75 cents monthly rental fee plus a small charge per call forwarded). Please note, Localphone will only forward calls (and not texts) to another number. However, Google Voice will forward any texts sent to your original number to your email address, it will even transcribe voicemail messages for you so you don’t miss out on anything.

http://www.localphone.com/services/incoming_numbers

Step 3

This is the easiest step. You just need to get a UK mobile number with any of the various mobile phone providers in the UK.

Steps 4&5

For this part of the process, you need to acquire a new US phone number via Localphone.com to have it act as the bridge between your Google Voice number and your UK mobile number. Once you acquire your new Localphone.com number, have Google Voice forward to Localphone number and setup Localphone to forward calls to your new UK mobile number.


And there you have it. With this setup, you can continue to receive calls to your original US cellphone number from your UK mobile!

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