Transfer Your Number to Google Voice
To hold onto your phone number while you move abroad, you’re going to need to put it somewhere. We’re going to use Google Voice.
Google Voice is going to be the service that holds onto your number until you can use it again as a US number.
This is Part 1 of the series on “How to keep your phone number even if you’re moving abroad.” I’ve had my same phone number for 15 years. It’s gone from house to house (remember landlines?) and through a few phones and a couple of phone companies. Now we’re moving to Europe but I’d still like to hold onto that number. Here’s what you have to do.
Google voice isn’t a phone carrier (like AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile). It’s more akin to a voicemail service. You can, however call “from” your Google Voice number (A) , but you have to call another number (B) (of yours) to actually make the call, then that other number (B) calls the number you want to call (C) and then connects you (A + C). Cumbersome? Yeah, a bit, but it works.
By transferring your phone number, you can make your existing mobile number your Google Voice number. Then you can make several phones ring when someone calls your Google Voice number, use online voicemail, and turn on voicemail transcriptions. From Google Voice transfer page.
This part is a little scary as when the number ports (“porting” is the verb the phone companies use to denote transfer … I don’t know what’s wrong with the word transfer) to a different carrier.
Once the porting is successful, you will no longer be able to:
- Use your phone with that number.
- Receive calls on that number.
- Make calls on that number.
I’m not sure what happens to the number in your existing U.S. carrier account. That is, does it just go away? Does your whole account go away? We have three lines in our AT&T account and I’m going to keep my son’s number in there just as a last lifeline to that account to make sure everything goes OK.
Frankly, although I’ve done this before, there can be pitfalls such as losing your number and it ends up in nowheresville. Calling rates out of Nowheresville, by the way, are exorbitant.
P.S. I’m in the middle of this process and updating these posts as I go along, so stay tuned.