Man on phone in airport

Why Google Voice Is Great for Travelers (And How to Set It Up)

By Dave Dean Get Connected51 Comments

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If you haven’t heard of Google Voice, you’re not alone. One of many Google products that were acquired and then largely ignored, it’s something even regular users of the company’s tools will likely never stumble across.

As a traveler, though, the service can be very useful. Particularly if you’re from the US, but even if, like me, you’re not, it’s something that can save you a lot of money and a lot of hassle, and it doesn’t have to cost a cent.

I’ve been using it for several years now, and despite a few rough edges, it’s something I’d truly miss if it disappeared. Given Google’s track record of killing useful products, that’s always a possibility. For now, at least, it’s still alive and kicking. Let’s hope it stays that way.

So What Is Google Voice, Anyway?

Simply put, Google Voice is a mobile and web app that lets you make and receive calls and texts to actual phone numbers anywhere in the world. It’s not the only service that offers this, but the combination of a few specific features and its low-to-no cost approach makes it unique for travelers.

Specifically, it lets you do the following for free:

  • have a US-based phone number assigned to you (and if you’re from the US, transfer your existing number to Google Voice).
  • receive calls and texts on that number anywhere in the world via the app or website
  • receive voicemail, including voice-to-text transcripts
  • make calls and send texts to most standard US or Canadian numbers via the app or website
  • forward calls to a different US-based number
  • forward texts and/or voicemails to email

The only thing you pay for when you have a US number is making calls and sending texts to a few premium North American numbers, and other numbers around the world. Typically, you’ll pay a few cents per minute/text to do so.

That’s a lot of useful features for a mostly-free product!

Google Voice is also available in a few other countries, but only to GSuite (ie, business) customers at a fee.

How to Use Google Voice While Traveling

Phone in hands with train in background

So those features all sound great, but it’s how they function in the real world that matters. Fortunately, for the most part, they work pretty well.

Because Google Voice works internationally just like it does in the US, having a number that’s available across devices anywhere in the world comes in very handy. It works on a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, using any Wi-Fi network or cellular data you have access to.

Here are several examples of how Google Voice has been particularly useful to me on the road.

Using Services like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb

No matter where I am in the world, as soon as I get a data connection, I’m contactable by drivers and hosts.

Sure, in some cases they could get in touch with me via the app, but Uber/Lyft drivers in particular much prefer to call you to confirm details. I’ve answered dozens of calls and texts asking about my exact location, or when I’ll arrive at my accommodation.

Also, since Lyft is only available in the US, it wants you to have a US phone number when creating your account. The first time I tried to do so with a Google Voice number, it refused to accept it, but when I returned to the US a couple of years later, the same number worked just fine. What changed? I’ve no idea.

Getting Security Verification Texts and Calls

Probably the best aspect for me is the ability to receive verification texts and calls from any company that wants to send them. I get authentication texts or phone calls from my bank, several apps, and Google itself, all on my phone or in my browser, any time, anywhere.

Whether I’m sending money to someone, resetting my password, or just logging in from a different location, verification is quick and easy.

Getting Updates from Airlines

I always enter my Google Voice number when booking plane tickets, since many carriers will text updates on flight delays or cancelations. As long as I’ve got Wi-Fi or cell data, they’ll pop up as if they’re a standard SMS, and I’ll know what’s happening immediately.

Free Phone Calls to North America

I don’t need to call US or Canadian numbers particularly often, but it does happen a few times a year. When it does, not having to pay a cent for it is rather nice, especially if it’s a company where I’ll sit on hold for 20 minutes before talking to someone. If I had family in North America, I’d use this service all the time.

Cheap Calls to Everywhere Else

While traveling life would be a lot easier if you could do everything online, sometimes you just have to pick up the phone. With the exception of a few obscure destinations, calls to most places with Google Voice are pretty cheap per minute, and call quality is good as long as you’ve got a half-decent internet connection.

Being Contactable by Old-School Companies

While most companies will happily contact you by email or through their app, there are a few old-school ones that won’t. Hello banks, I’m looking at you.

One of my banks absolutely loves to block my debit card, and then call to tell me about it. Without Google Voice, I wouldn’t have a working phone number on record, and the process would be even more annoying than it already is.

Not Being Dependent on One Device

Phones break or get lost all the time, especially while traveling. It happened to me in Thailand just a couple of months ago, but because Google Voice works in a browser as well, my texts and calls kept arriving just fine.

It sounds wonderful and in some ways it is, but Google Voice isn’t perfect. Not every text message arrives, even after repeated tries. Sometimes a call won’t ring on my phone or in the browser, and goes straight to voicemail even if I’m sitting in front of my phone or laptop at the time.

That’s a frustration, but one I accept given (a) I’m not paying for that part of the service, and (b) there are no alternatives that offer as many features, paid or otherwise.

Another minor issue is that transcription of voicemails is obviously automated, and varies between pretty accurate and almost incomprehensible. I find myself needing to download and listen to the actual voicemail over half the time.

Setting Up Google Voice

Google Voice on multiple devices

Once you’ve decided you’d like to use Google Voice, here’s how to set it up.

If You’re in the US

Setup is pretty simple if you live in the US. Just visit the site, and you’ll be taken to a wizard that asks you to search for a city or area code, then pick one of the available numbers on the list.

You’ll then be asked to verify your existing (US) number. It can be either cell or landline (if you choose the latter, change the verification method from text to calling).

Once you’ve entered the six-digit verification code, you’re ready to install and configure the apps (see below.)

At this point you can also transfer an existing number to the service, if you’d like to do so. There’s a one-time $20 charge to port most existing numbers across, and it will replace the number you chose at the start of the setup process.

If You’re Not in the US

If you’re not currently in the US, you’ll have to jump through some hoops to do the initial setup. Google really aims the Voice service at US-based users, and actively tries to prevent others from signing up.

To start with, you’ll need to use a VPN to make it appear like you’re inside the United States. Tunnelbear is good if you don’t already have one, since it’s free for a month. If you don’t use a VPN, you’ll just get an error message when you try to visit the Google Voice site.

Once you’ve got that sorted, its time to call on the services of a friend or family member in the US. You’ll need to use their phone number to get your verification call or text, and they’ll need to pass on the verification code soon after receiving it. And no, a different Google Voice number won’t work, sadly.

Once you’re done, don’t forget to unlink the number you used for verification by going to the Voice site, clicking on the Settings icon, then going to the Account section and deleting it under Linked Numbers.

On the upside, once you’ve gone through this frustrating process, you’ll be able to use the Google Voice service from anywhere in the world without a VPN. It’s just the setup that’s painful.

Installing and Configuring Google Voice

Once your account is created, it’s time to install the app (iOS/Android). You used to be able to use Google Hangouts for this, but Google is now phasing that service out and its Voice features have started to work less reliably. I’d recommend using the official Voice app or website instead.

Assuming you’re logged into the same Google account you used to set up your new Voice number, the app should automatically detect that number and set it up to receive calls and texts.

It’s worth checking, though: go to Settings, confirm that the correct number is being shown, and tap on “Devices and Numbers” to see all of the devices that are configured to use it. Go back, and select “Call Forwarding” to confirm your current device can receive calls.

You have several other settings available, including whether you want texts and missed call alerts to be forwarded to email , whether you want to hide your outgoing number when making calls, do-not-disturb and voicemail options, and more.

You can also add credit and lookup calling rates for numbers outside North America, and automatically filter spam calls and texts. If you have another US number available, you can also forward all calls to it.

All of the settings are much the same on the Voice website as well. If you’re using Chrome and plan to answer calls and texts in your browser, it’s worth answering “yes” to the question at the top of the screen about allowing notifications from the Voice site.

After all that, you’re ready to go. Google Voice calls and texts should now be available on your phone, tablet, and/or desktop web browser, whenever you’ve got data anywhere in the world.

Since making calls to North American numbers is free with Google Voice, you just need to dial the number from within the Hangouts or Voice app/site as you usually would.

Using Google Voice to make international calls is almost as straightforward. Simply top up your account by tapping on the Add Credit option under Settings — Payments on the site or in the app. You can top up in $10, $20, or $50 increments, with a maximum balance of $70.

Once you’ve added money to your Google Voice account, just dial the international number you want to call from the Hangouts or Voice app/site. Don’t forget to use the international dialing code (eg. +44 for the United Kingdom), and you’re good to go!


Got any Google Voice tips and tricks from your own travels? Let us know all about them!

Images via Joergelman (main image), maneomsy (phone in hands), Google (multiple devices)

About the Author
Dave Dean

Dave Dean

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Founder and editor of Too Many Adapters, Dave has been a traveler for 20 years, and a geek for even longer. When he's not playing with the latest tech toy or working out how to keep his phone charged for just a few more minutes, he can probably be found sitting in a broken-down bus in some obscure corner of the planet.

Comments

  1. Avatar

    Have had this conversation with so many Apple people. They say that if you have Google Voice (which I have had and loved for over 5 years and used all around-the-world) that there is no way you can have calls coming to your GV phone # ring on your cell phone (mine is an iPhone 7+ with a Mexican SIM). I get voice messages left in my emails and texts with verification codes, but I never have, and neither has anyone I know, figured out how to have a call ring on your cell phone. Do I understand that if you have the Hangouts App installed on my iPhone and switch to Hangouts in Google voice, someone dialing my GV # will ring both on my computer and my phone?

    1. Avatar

      My favourite use for Voice is when I am on a cruise ship. Everyone knows that using a normal cell number on a cruise costs around a $1 per minute. But if you have a WiFi plan or access to Wifi, you can call to the U.S. for free, or to other countries for a few cents a minute.

  2. Avatar

    I’ve been using Google Voice since it became publicly available around 2010. As you’ve found, it’s a fantastic service, especially for folks who travel a lot. My greatest fear is that Google will make changes that ruin the service or, as they have a history of doing, cancel it outright. That would be disastrous.

    One unfortunate issue I run into more often than I’d like, though, is that, since it is a VOIP service (and one which apparently can be identified as a Google Voice number), not everyone accepts your Google Voice number. Most recently, I ran into this problem with Airbnb. I recently created an new account with Airbnb and they refused to take my Google Voice number as a valid phone number. From searching around, it looks like this might have been a recent change; I’ve seen several hosts complaining about this. Ironically, they did accept a Skype number as a valid phone number (even though Skype doesn’t handle SMS properly).

    In general, though, Google Voice is a great *free* service (in the US and Canada) and I’ve found it’s international calling rates also tend to be the cheapest relative to, say, Skype. Highly recommended.

    1. Dave Dean Author

      Yeah, Google canceling it is my biggest fear as well to be honest. The company definitely has a long and proud(?) history of killing products that its users really love. The only thing that’s saving it, I think, is that it’s somewhat integrated with the Google Fi cell service, so unless Google decides to kill that as well, maybe we’re safe for a little longer!

  3. Avatar

    Was in Australia this summer and Hangouts worked partially. It worked perfectly on my laptop and on my phone–when it was using wifi. But once I was on mobile data (local sim card), I could not make some phone calls. Specifically to phone numbers that were new. So if I dialed my brother and Friend A and their numbers had been called before from Hangouts (when I was still in the US)–then the call got through. If I dialed a number that was new to Hangouts, the call would never go through.

    I suspected the call was routing through the sim card’s phone service and since I was dialing the US number as if I was in the US–the Aussie carrier didn’t recognize the call. That’s my theory anyway. Frustrating and kind of put me off Hangouts a bit. I wish Google was a bit more responsive to issues with their apps. Since most of their of stuff is “free”, it seems they don’t have to be as responsive to their users.

  4. Avatar

    Hey Dave, thanks for posting this, it’s really helpful. I live in the US and already have a Google Voice number, but I haven’t used it much yet — I made one international call to Mexico, and it was awesomely cheap.

    Now I’m preparing to travel around Europe and Asia for a few months. So I should just be able to give people in the US my Google Voice number, then as long as I have wifi, they should be able to just pick up their phone and call me on their phones as usual, at no cost to me?

    My other concern is my bank blocking charges like you mentioned. The only way to unblock is to call them. I was worried I would have trouble with this abroad, but you’re saying I can call the bank customer service for free via wifi using Google Voice?

    This is all a little complicated to learn but seems totally worth it! Thanks again!

    1. Dave Dean Author

      Hi Ellen,

      Yes, that’s correct — just give people your GV number, and you’ll be able to answer the call or read the SMS everywhere you’ve got Wi-fi (or cellular data). Likewise, you’ll be able to call your bank or almost any other North American number for free from within the GV app when you have Wi-fi/cell data.

      It’s a bit complicated when you’re first getting things set up, but quickly becomes second nature — definitely worth it! 🙂

  5. Avatar

    So, if i don’t get google voice while i am in the u.s and follow your method in the article so that means using a family member’s phone number then unlink, how do i actually use/port my u.s number to it? i don’t want to lose my u.s number from t-mobile.

    1. Dave Dean Author

      That section was written with people getting a new number in mind, rather than those with an existing US number who want to port it but aren’t currently in the US.

      If you’re able to receive calls and texts to your current number while you’re overseas, I’d expect the porting process to work the same way as it would inside the US. From Google’s support document: “Don’t cancel your phone plan until Google Voice notifies you the port is complete. To verify the port, we’ll call your phone with a code.” If you can’t receive calls and texts to that number while abroad, you’re probably out of luck until you return to the US.

      You’d still need a VPN that makes it appear like you’re inside the US while you’re setting things up, though.

      That said, I haven’t personally tried this approach (I’m not US-based), so can’t confirm it. Use at your own risk! If you decide to go ahead with it and find everything works (or doesn’t, for that matter), please feel free to let me know and I’ll update the article accordingly.

  6. Avatar

    Hi Dave,
    Thanks for this great article! It’s hard to find current articles about this topic (most seem to be circa 2015-16). A quick background: I’m moving to Spain next month and plan to port my US # to Google Voice. I have an iPhone XR and plan to get a Spanish sim card once I’m there for cell service and to have a local number.

    I read in the Hangout forum about someone who said once they moved to Laos and put in a Laos sim card, their calls (via phone) to US where no longer free, it was asking for credit. Another commenter responded that this was normal because once there is a foreign identity on the phone, calls would not be free.
    Should I expect that once I put a Spanish sim card in my phone, calls to the US will no longer be free with a non-US sim card? And if so, would texts still be at no charge while using data from the local data plan?

    Also, I am reluctant to not have data in the interim of dropping my current US carrier and signing up for new service in a new country. Would you recommend starting with the Google Fi service and then cancelling it once I’ve signed with a new carrier? What other options would I have to have data in the interim?
    Thank you so much in advance!

    1. Dave Dean Author

      Once you stick a local SIM card (in your case, a Spanish one) in your phone, you’re on a local plan. That’s pretty unlikely to include free calls and texts to the US, since it’s not something the majority of Spanish people would want or need.

      However, that doesn’t affect your Google Voice account at all. As long as you’re using the Google Voice app to make your calls over Wi-fi or cell data, rather than just dialing the number and making a voice call via your SIM card, calls to the US will still be free.

      Assuming you’re starting out with a prepaid SIM in Spain, it’s a pretty simple process to get set up. Depending on where you’re flying into, you may be able to have a working SIM before you leave the airport, and certainly within an hour of getting downtown in any major town or city. There’s no real need to go through the hassle of signing up and then canceling Google Fi, but if you want to make sure you’ll have data as soon as you land, it’s a fairly cheap way of doing so.

  7. Avatar

    Thank you so much for the personalized and quick response and also for the link with additional info!! Such a great resource – I’m so glad I found your informative emagazine!

  8. Avatar

    Some banks (eg Capital One) does not accept internet/VoIP based phones, eg Google Voice. This could be a drag. I can set it to credit cards, but banks (saving/checking) requires a SIM based number.

  9. Avatar

    I have a travel iphone in which I utilize a data only sim card when traveling outside the US. Last year when I arrived in Spain I attempted to call a local number (Malaga) on both Voice and Hangouts–neither worked. I got an operator message instead. I eventually had success but through Skype. I don’t know if it was because it was because of the data sim card or that I was calling a Spanish number within Spain or maybe I needed to power down the phone and restart. I just don’t know! It was a frustrating experience especially since I had $10 credits on Voice yet had to spend money on Skype in order to finally make the call.

  10. Avatar

    This article is very helpful, since I’ve used Google voice since forever! Lol! I don’t really remember and call any number in the US using Hangouts dialer. But now my frustration is that since I got an IPhone 7+ (from my cousin) and I just found out it is Thailand based, I couldn’t download the Hangouts Dialer even when I changed the location and Region to US. I am US based, btw. How do I get the iPhone to download the dialer? I can’t make calls to people who are not on Hangouts. I am able to do that on my Android devices. iPhones are soooo restrictive! 🥴

    1. Dave Dean Author

      I’m on the road and don’t have access to an iPhone right now to test this with, but have you tried the approach(es) mentioned here to see if they help?

      Failing that, you may be looking at a factory reset (while in the US) to get it to switch.

  11. Avatar

    HI If I am US based with Google voice US number. If I am sitting in London airport, Can I use this to SMS or call someone in London?

  12. Avatar

    Thank you very much for this article. You’ve answered so many questions. I’d like to confirm my understanding about the following:

    If I use Google Voice over wi-fi to call Italy from the USA there will be a reasonable charge.
    If I use Google Voice over wi-fit to call an Italian number from within Italy there will be a charge, but again very reasonable.
    But if I call to the USA using a wi-fi in Italy it’s free (except for the rare occasions like a bank not accepting the number)?
    If I’ve understood this all correctly then this seems like the best way to go!

  13. Avatar

    Thanks for this great article, Dave. We’re moving from US to China whenever flights resume and my wife can get her work visa. Do we have to keep a US cell phone number, or can we just port our numbers to GV and cancel our US cell phone contracts when we leave the country? Don’t really want to keep paying for US cell phone service when we’re not living in the country. We’re hoping that we can use GV for things like verification SMS messages when changing passwords, etc.

    Also, do you know whether anyone has had any luck using GV via a VPN from China?

    1. Dave Dean Author

      Hi David,

      You don’t need to keep US cell service once the number porting to GV is complete. You’ll also be able to port it back to a traditional carrier when/if you move back to the US if you want to.

      My experience of using GV for SMS verification is that it works with nearly all companies, but not every single one of them. Wells Fargo has been a particular problem, so if you happen to bank with them, you’ll need to come up with a different solution. I’d suggest giving yourself a bit of time before you leave to test out SMS verifications from the companies you particularly care about, in case you discover a problem that’ll be much easier to deal with while still in the US.

      I don’t know for sure about using GV over a VPN from China, but if I had to put money one way or the other, I’d suggest that if your VPN gives you access to other Google services, it should give you access to GV as well. We’ve got an article on getting around the Great Firewall which might be worth a look.

  14. Avatar

    Dave, I would note that, in my recent experience, this arrangement has worked well in the past, but calls to my Google Voice number are no longer ringing in the Hangouts app (even with the settings properly enabled).

    HOWEVER … Google has also done what I had longed for them to do, and enabled WiFi/mobile data calling directly from the Google Voice (GV) app. Previously, the GV app needed to forward to a carrier, but no longer. As I had longed managed SMS and voicemails via the GV app, and used the Hangouts app for making and receiving calls, this development would seem to render the Hangouts app irrelevant for this arrangement. Now, everything – SMS, voicemails, making/receiving calls – can be done through the GV app.

    What I cannot find is documentation of when exactly Google made this change, or why … although I can speculate. It would seem that, with the coming retirement of Hangouts (in favor of Meet), this was one feature that needed to be offloaded to the GV app (or abandoned altogether). Given that, at least on the business side (G Suite), Google is trying to further monetize Google Voice, it seems it may live on for some time yet. All in all, it is a powerful telephone connection solution … and now it only needs one app instead of two.

    1. Dave Dean Author

      Thanks Wes. I’ve updated the article with instructions for the Voice app and website, and recommended using those instead. The site in particular has had a major overhaul since I last used it, so it’s good to see it getting some love!

  15. Avatar

    Hi Dave, apologies if this comment is a duplicate.
    Planning to relocate for a few years in 2 weeks and planning to port my Verizon number into GV so I can make/receive calls and text using the GV app (over wifi and data).
    My questions are:
    1) Does it matter if I create the GV account here or overseas?
    2) I’d like to port the number while i’m there. Based on what I read here , the VPN and friend solution should work? If i’m able to receive calls and texts while i’m abroad, I guess I don’t need a friends help? (can you confirm pls?)
    3) Any reported issues with not receiving calls while overseas? (on the GV app I mean).

    Thanks for your help!!

    1. Dave Dean Author

      No problem!
      1. It doesn’t matter in terms of how it works, it’s just easier to do when you’re in the US since you don’t need to use a VPN.
      2. If you want to wait until you’ve relocated, but you’re still able to receive calls/texts to your current number overseas, I can’t see why you shouldn’t be able to do the porting at that stage without going via a friend in the US.
      3. I can only really go on my experience — as long as I’ve had a data/Wi-Fi connection at the time, I’ve very rarely had problems with receiving calls overseas via the app. Texts can sometimes be a bit more of a problem, but it’s still infrequent.

      1. Avatar

        Thanks for the quick reply!
        And just to clarify, the Hangout apps has nothing to do with anything in this scenario?
        Thanks.

      2. Dave Dean Author

        Based on the comment above yours and a quick test I did just now, it looks like Hangouts may no longer be required for anything to do with Google Voice. The Google Voice app now seems to let you make and receive Wi-Fi/data calls direct from within that app rather than going via Hangouts. I’ll do some proper testing later this week and update the article as needed.

  16. Avatar

    Hi Dave – I find it amazing that you respond personally to all these questions! I have an issue too. Moving to Mexico in 2 months. I am still going to work from home. Here in the US I’ve been using GV with Obi Hai to connect to a desk phone. I need to keep my #s for my business. Am I understanding that if I use GV with my cell phone, and I port it over, I can still use my same #s on a Mexican phone so I could get rid of my American plan? And without a VPN?

    1. Dave Dean Author

      Thanks Beth — I don’t mind answering people’s questions, most days at least. 🙂

      I’m going to assume from your comment that you want to keep multiple numbers? Maybe a ‘home’ number that rings on the Obi Hai, and your current cell number?

      I hadn’t heard of Obi Hai before, but reading through the sales page, it looks it uses a standard Google Voice number already. If so, then all you should need to do is install the Google Voice app on your phone, do the basic configuration mentioned in the article, and calls to that number will ring on your phone (or tablet, laptop, etc). It will use whatever internet connection it has available to do that, which could be Wi-Fi, a Mexican SIM card with data, a portable hotspot, and so on.

      You can also port your cell number across to Google Voice, and then cancel your current US plan after that’s confirmed. No need to use a VPN either. The slightly tricky bit will be getting both Google Voice numbers to ring on the same phone, assuming that’s what you’re trying to do. I’ve seen some forum posts with instructions on how to do it, but it’s not officially supported, so no guarantees it’ll work (or if it does work, how long it’ll stay working!). I guess the alternative to that would be having two devices, like a tablet and a phone, or two phones, with separate Google Voice numbers on each.

      So in short, getting one of your existing numbers to ring on your phone in Mexico using Google Voice is possible and straightforward. Getting multiple numbers to do it is harder, but may not be impossible.

      Hope that helps!

  17. Avatar

    Thank you – you actually gave me a little more to think about! I love your technology guide and all the articles on the website. Happy travels.

  18. Avatar

    Dan
    I have had a text from a woman on a dating website that +1 in front of their phone number ( which is on numbers from the American continent) and now one saying she is from north Carolina. Is there any way to know any more where a phone number is really from, because of this technology??

    1. Dave Dean Author

      Not that I’m aware of. VoIP technology has allowed companies and individuals to separate a phone number from a physical telephone for decades, so a phone number’s supposed location has long been pretty suspect. It’s just gotten easier and cheaper (in this case, free) in recent years.

  19. Avatar

    Yeah, it was working great until a couple months ago. Use it for business and local area code. Trouble is for the last couple months it rings once or not at all on my cell phone (Pixel 3A and Verizon) and goes straight to Voice vm. Tried everything- changed all settings, cleared cache, uninstalled, gone to web and deleted number, etc. Similar to Google’s messages app, issues take forever to get resolved. Just not on Google’s front burner. Search online see these complaints going back a couple years, questions/threads locked. Just bury it and continue to have the problem for loyalists.

    1. Avatar

      Hi Andrew,
      Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m living abroad and I’ve been a lot time Google Fi user, but want to port it to G Voice.
      I just wouldn’t port if the service if unreliable. And calls going straight to voicemail is a big no no!
      Were you able to figure out how to solve this?

      @Dave: thank you so much for this amazing blog, we all appreciate your articles!
      And let me ask you this, are you having problems with the service lately? Like people mentioning they called you, but it went to voicemail and never rang.

      1. Dave Dean Author

        No problem Matheus, happy to do it! Re: problems with the service — since it’s not my primary number, I probably wouldn’t notice issues as quickly as other people do. I don’t get calls very often, but authentication texts have been coming through fine recently. The latest one was a couple of days ago, and it arrived a few seconds after it was sent.

  20. Avatar

    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for the thorough explanation. I’m trying to port my existing Verizon number from outside the US but unfortunately I’m not receiving a call from Google to verify the phone. The phone is still able to receive calls and texts from anywhere – just not from Google. I’ve read somewhere that this is because I’m outside US, can Google detect that?

    I’m going to try to forward the call to my sister in the US to see if she will get to verify the number. I hope that one works, if not, I guess I won’t be able to port my Verizon number to GV. Tough luck!

    1. Dave Dean Author

      If you’re using a normal Verizon cell number and service, Google can’t tell whether you’re currently roaming internationally with it or not. Definitely worth trying to forward the call to see if that helps — I’m not really sure what the problem is otherwise!

  21. Avatar

    Hi Dave- thanks. You said “have a US-based phone number assigned to you (and if you’re from the US, transfer your existing number to Google Voice)” I have a Canadian #. Won’t this work with a Canadian based phone number too? Thanks

    1. Dave Dean Author

      Up until May this year, the answer was a straightforward ‘no’. Since then, it’s more of a ‘kinda’. Canadian numbers became available in Google Voice at that point, but only to GSuite (ie, typically business) customers. Even then, you can’t port existing Canadian numbers across to Google Voice, only sign up for a new number.

      If you’re in the fortunate situation where both of those limitations aren’t an issue for you, you’ll be good to go. Otherwise, the waiting game continues. I’ve tweaked the text in the article to reflect what’s available in other countries (Canada isn’t the only one) if you’re a GSuite user.

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    Hi Dave – thank you again. Is there anything you could suggest for a Canadian, when on wifi only { android phone] who wants to send/ receive SMS texts to/from other Canadian phone numbers? Thank you.

    1. Dave Dean Author

      Hi Brad — it’s a bit out of my area of expertise to be honest, but this thread from earlier in the year has a few suggestions. Note the comments in there about receiving authentication texts (bank verification codes etc) — looks like you’ll struggle to get that with any virtual phone number provider in Canada. Normal texts from eg. friends and family should be ok, however.

  23. Avatar

    Dave- I’ve read elsewhere that over wifi TextNow allows internet calls and texting, only in the United States and Canada. However I can’t figure out if that is just for US phone numbers or if Canadians numbers could get that usage? Do you happen to know? Thank you.

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