Having the ability to forward (or divert) calls from an international number to a local mobile phone or landline can be useful not only to keep in touch with family and friends but also for many business purposes. This is especially helpful for expats.

So how can you do that? My answer is the same one I gave to a friend who asked me how to buy a UK or Irish telephone number that would divert calls to his telephone in the US. We have resided abroad for extended periods so we have used a number of such services, generally with satisfactory results. However, oftentimes, what you think to be uncomplicated becomes apparently quite the opposite. 

International Call Forwarding Services

You have several options when looking for services to help you get overseas telephone numbers and have them forwarded to, for instance, your mobile phone. Expect a broad range of prices from the affordable $1.50 monthly up, plus usage to some shocking rates that can trick you if you’re not paying attention which, in some cases, can reach as much as $100+ monthly, depending on the country you’ve picked. That is why, be wary when deciding on the service to avail of to ensure that you really get what you are paying for.

To make things more complicated for those who are new with such services, most, if not all, call diversion services employ Voice over IP (VoIP) technology. A good number of providers of this service are abroad and are unknown. If you wish to get such service from a more well-known company, you may want to consider Skype or Vonage. These are reputable brands in the telecommunications industry and provide international call forwarding in addition to their main services.

Vonage

International Call forwarding

You can buy an international call forwarding virtual number for $9.99 to $14.99 that will ring to your regular Vonage number. On top of that, you also have to pay for your Vonage number. This is designed for inbound and outbound calls, which is the basis of the account. You can avail of these numbers from $9.99 up depending on your chosen call plan. These calls can be forwarded to your landline or regular mobile phone or to their smooth voicemail system. So you can get unlimited call forwarding from any of the countries they accommodate.

Skype

Skype offers a similar service at lesser rates. If you’re a Skype user, you can buy a virtual number in several countries. The price will depend on the country you have chosen. Skype’s website indicates that numbers in Ireland are available for as low as $6.50 monthly* or $39 annually, plus call charges, typically ranging between $0.01 to $0.02 per minute, from your Skype balance. You can receive the calls on their Skype app. Calls can also be diverted directly to your landline or mobile. When we tested this option, we perceive it to be not at par with Vonage and a number of the other services when it comes to reliability. In addition, their voicemail option did not always work as we expect it to. Albeit, it has been quite some time since this test, before Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype. Hopefully, their services may be more reliable now. With their affordable pricing, it would not hurt for you to give their monthly service a try.

Other Lesser Known Services

We have had mixed results for lesser known providers, but DIDWW was our favorite. Although international call forwarding is not their primary business,  you can easily avail of their service on their site for a good rate. To illustrate using our Irish number, you can get one of these numbers here with the following fees and charges:

  • Setup fee $1.50
  • Monthly fee $1.50
  • Call Charges  $0.01 per minute* 

Though a great option, it has its drawback as well. One is that they require a $50 minimum balance to set up the account. Another let-down involves their highly detailed control panel, which requires some getting used to. A third drawback concerns Irish numbers, where they require some connection with the country (e.g. a mailing service or business address) before they can process your order.

This is not required for UK numbers, which have similar rates. Also, it is not clear why Vonage and Skype do not require this.

Summary

To summarize, many forwarding services are available. You can just Google international numbers, virtual numbers, international call forwarding, or international call diversion services, and probably come upon a superior alternative.

*Prices quoted for all services are based on information available on the companies’ websites as of this writing and are exclusive of taxes and fees.

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