How to Own Your Phone Number (Porting to Google Voice)

In preparation for my move to Spain, I planned to cancel my phone plan and get a new number abroad. But when you cancel your phone plan your phone number instantaneously disappears and is no longer linked to your name in any way. If your number is near and dear to you, you will want to port your number to Google so that you own it for $20. It is important to remember you must port your number over to Google Voice BEFORE leaving the country and BEFORE canceling your plan. You will need $20 and a Google Voice Account.

Step 1: Determine if you should terminate your account or suspend it. 

You must know how long you are planning on staying abroad. Verizon in particular has an option of suspending your plan for up to 2 periods of 3 months (6 months total). I am planning to be abroad for at least 1 year so this was not a wise option for me.

There was no fee with Verizon for terminating my account with them. Check with your individual carrier, but it is common that today’s carriers aren’t charging termination fees.

Although there was no fee for terminating my account, I did not own my iPhone outright. About 6 months before moving abroad, I purchased the latest iPhone. Because I had a contract with Verizon for many years as a member in a family plan, they set me up to pay for my new phone in small monthly payments (this is the new standard for phone companies). The cost of your phone will depend on how many months you have been making payments. Since I had only had my phone for about 6 months, I learned as soon as I terminated my account that I would be billed for nearly $600. A lot of money, but an unavoidable cost at that point.

Step 2: Porting your number into Google Voice. 

Make sure you have all the account details you will need to provide Google Voice with. This includes all your passwords, account number, primary account holder name etc. If you enter any of the information incorrectly, it sets you back a bit of time (a mistake I made).

As Google explains here: https://support.google.com/voice/answer/1065667?hl=en

You will want to access: Google Voice

And follow these steps depending on if you are new or not:

New to Google Voice
  1. Accept the terms and services for Google Voice.
  2. Choose what type of phone number you want:
    1. I want a new number
      1. Before choosing a Google Voice number, add a forwarding phone that will ring when that number is called. You can add more forwarding phones later. Verify the number with a phone call.
      2. Type a cellular phone number you’d like to use, and then click Check for available options.
    2. I want to use my mobile number
      1. Type your mobile phone number and then click Check for available options.
      2. Click Port your number. This will charge a $20 fee.
Existing Google Voice account
  1. Click Settings .
  2. Click Phones.
  3. Click Change/Port.
  4. Choose what type of phone number you want:
    1. I want a new number
      1. If you already have a Google Voice number, this will charge a $10 fee. Click Continue.
      2. Type a cellular phone number you’d like to use, and then click Check for available options.
      3. Select Purchase number.
    2. I want to use my mobile number
      1. Type your mobile phone number and then click Check for available options.
      2. Click Port your number. This will charge a $20 fee.
  5. Select the checkboxes under “Things to understand before porting your number to Google Voice.”
  6. Click Phone Verification.
  7. Follow the prompts to verify your phone number.
  8. Enter your account information and then click Confirmation.
  9. Confirm your transaction and then click Checkout.
  10. Pay with your Google Account on payments.google.com. Once, you’ve completed transaction, you’ll receive a few emails with updates and further instructions.

Remember that Google Voice will need to call you and you will need to type in a code they provide you on the automated call. This is why you should do it before going abroad. I recommend doing it a few days before leaving just in case something goes wrong you can call your provider etc. It can take a few days for the port to go through.

Step 3: End of your plan with your mobile service provider.

When your phone number has successfully been ported to Google Voice, your service provider will automatically be informed of the activity and your account will be terminated. At that point you will be billed for any fees such as a phone balance on a phone you have been making payments on or a termination fee if your provider has one. You can always call your provider just to make sure everything has been successful (at which point they may interrogate you for leaving them).

Step 4: Your phone number is now your own.

You can’t use your phone number with a plan in Europe, but I recommend downloading Google’s Hangouts app on your phone. You will get notified every time someone texts, calls or leaves a voicemail (which you can listen to) to your US number. If you don’t want hangouts, you can also get the notifications in an email.

As an added bonus, Google Voice charges 1 cent/minute to make any calls. Therefore, now that I am in Spain I buy data, don’t normally make calls with my Spanish number, but use my data or wifi to call with Google Voice because it is so cheap!

VoiceFeatures

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