Want to use Google Voice but also keep your existing number? Porting your phone number to Google Voice is possible, but it’s a tedious process with drawbacks you need to know.
This guide will help you understand everything you should know about how to port a number to Google Voice, including porting from different providers, answers to frequently asked questions, and more.
Should you port your number to Google Voice?
On paper, it may seem like a good idea to port to Google Voice to reduce your calling costs if you’re an existing Google Workspace user. However, as you’ll see below there are hidden costs to accessing key features of Google Voice’s paid plans.
If you’re considering the free version of Google Voice, you must already have an existing US number to verify your account. Google Voice also charges an upfront fee to port any mobile number over. Additionally, shared access to that number where you can easily see who on your team has been in touch with your contact isn’t possible on Google’s free plan.
Google Voice also has several other issues. Upfront, the service makes porting a little too hard. In some cases where you fail to port successfully, you might even lose your phone number.
Bottom line: Google Voice is a relatively bare-bones service (both the free version and their paid plans, Google Voice for Google Workspace) compared to other modern VoIP systems.
What are the pros and cons of porting to Google Voice?
Before porting to Google Voice or going with one of the more feature-rich Google Voice alternatives, keep in mind these benefits and drawbacks of Google Voice:
Pros of porting to Google Voice
- Offers a new number for free: If you only need a phone for personal calls, getting a free Google Voice number is a great option for unlimited calling. However, you need an existing US number to verify your account to use the free version of Google Voice.
- Allows international calling: International calling costs extra, but is available.
- Additional features: Google Voice offers at least some of the key features businesses need like voicemail transcriptions and apps for mobile phones (Android and iOS). If texting your clients or integrating your existing tools are key considerations for you, there are better options for your business.
Cons of porting to Google Voice
- Google Workspace subscription: To use Google Voice for Google Workspace (the business version of Google Voice) you must pay for a Google Workspace subscription.
- Extra costs: Porting isn’t free if you’re looking to port a number to Google Voice’s free plan. If you’re looking to share responsibility for incoming calls, that feature is only available on the highest-tier plans of Google Voice for business.
- Complicated process: Porting is a complicated process with Google Voice that involves a number of steps and documentation to submit.
- No desktop app: Google Voice is only available on web and mobile devices; you won’t be able to click to call from your computer.
- Texting limits: If you plan on using Google Voice for business, the texting limits can be a problem because texts longer than 160 characters will be sent as separate messages.
- No toll-free numbers: If you want to allow clients to call you for free, Google Voice isn’t the best choice.
- No automation features: You won’t have tools like auto-replies and snippets to help you save time texting with your contacts.
Our guide on the pros and cons of Google Voice offers more insights.
If you’re still interested in porting to Google Voice, we explain the complete process below.
Before you begin: A checklist
Here are a few things you need to know before you start the porting process:
- Check eligibility: Google Voice doesn’t support all area codes and carriers. Before you begin the porting process, you should check your number’s eligibility.
- Don’t cancel the existing contract: Don’t cancel your contract with your current service provider until Google Voice notifies you that your number ported successfully. Otherwise, porting might fail, which could lead to losing your mobile number.
- Close open service requests: If you have open service requests with the current carrier, close them before you start the porting process.
- Ensure the numbers in a request belong to the same carrier: You can port multiple numbers to your Google Voice account if you’re on a paid plan, but you should only include numbers from the same carrier in a single request. Create separate port requests if you have numbers from multiple carriers.
- Information required to create a port request: Here are things you’ll need to have on hand when creating a Google Voice port request:
- Latest billing statement
- A list of phone numbers you want to port (make sure all numbers are unlocked and associated with your main billing number)
- PIN for porting (if needed)
- You might need to follow some additional country-specific details required for porting
- Remove special features: Google Voice doesn’t offer features like DSL internet or hunt groups, so disable them from your number before you create a porting request.
How much does it cost to port to Google Voice?
Here are the costs to consider when you port a number to Google Voice:
- Setup fee for Google Voice’s free version: Google Voice charges a one-time setup fee of $20 if you port a US number to a personal Google Voice account. With modern business phone systems (like OpenPhone) you don’t need to pay any porting fees — port in as many phone numbers as your team needs.
- Early termination fee (ETF): You might have to pay your current cell phone service provider a termination fee if you’re in the middle of a contract. Service providers like AT&T share some basic ETF information on their website. If you have questions about the possibility of incurring an ETF, contact your VoIP provider or mobile carrier’s customer support.
- Google Workspace: Google Voice for business is only available to Google Workspace users. If you don’t have an existing subscription, you’ll need to pay $6 monthly for Google Workspace, in addition to Google Voice’s price starting at $10 per user per month. The Starter plan allows up to 10 users and includes basics like call forwarding and voicemail transcription.
Features like multi-level auto-attendant and ring groups are only available on higher-tier plans that cost $20 or $30 per user per month. To access automatic call recordings and advanced reporting, you’ll need to pay $30 per user per month if you use Google Voice.
How do you port your number to Google Voice?
The process for porting your number to a Google Voice personal account and a Google Voice for Google Workspace account is different, as outlined below.
Porting your number to the personal version of Google Voice
Keep in mind you can only port a US number and must be based in the US to use Google Voice’s free version. Also, porting to a personal Google Voice account costs $20, so have a credit card handy before you begin.
- Open Google Voice. If you don’t have an existing account, set up Google Voice. You’ll get a free number when you sign up, but the ported number will replace the free number once the port request is complete.
- From the top-right of the screen, select Settings and navigate to Settings > Account.
- Click Port a number from under the Port a number to Google Voice section and select Get Started.
- Enter the number you want to port and request to receive a 6-digit verification code by call or SMS.
- Enter the code.
- If your number is eligible for porting, Google Voice will ask for carrier account information. You’ll find most of these details in your phone number account.
- Review the information and proceed to make the payment.
Your number should port within 48 hours, but text messages might take up to three business days to migrate to your Google Voice account.
Porting your number to Google Voice for Google Workspace
Porting your number to Google Voice for Google Workspace can be quite an intricate process. First, keep in mind you won’t be able to port any of the following to a Google Workspace account:
- Toll-free numbers
- Nongeographical (nomadic) numbers in the EU
- Mobile numbers in the EU
- Numbers associated with Gmail.com consumer accounts
- Numbers from unmanaged accounts or Google Fi to managed Voice for Google Workspace accounts
- Numbers in different Google Workspace domains
Here are the steps you need to follow to port numbers to Google Voice once you have a Google Workspace account:
- Sign into the Google Admin console using an administrator account.
- Select Menu > Apps > Google Workspace > Google Voice > Users and click on Number porting.
- Click Create port order at the top of the page.
- Enter a Port name (this can be anything you want to identify the request with), the Country of service, and click Continue.
- Enter the person’s name and number who Google Voice can contact under Identify your primary contact. Google Voice will contact this person in case of questions about the porting request.
- Look at the details in your latest billing statement to fill in the form under Enter port details.
Note: The fields in the port details section may differ depending on your region. If you’re in the EU and using a reseller-provided number, select the underlying service provider (contact the reseller for information). However, you can’t port to Google Voice if you don’t see your current service provider on the list.
- Check the box next to I authorize Google Voice and then click Continue.
- List the phone numbers you want to port in the List numbers section.
- Select when you want to activate the Google Voice phone number from the Activation date field, if the option is available, and click Continue.
- Review the information and click Continue.
- Click Create Port Request.
- Google Voice may require a letter of authorization for some countries and regions that you should upload within seven days of creating the port request. To do this, go to the Number porting page, select your port request, expand the Required documentation section, and select Download template. Print, fill in, and sign the letter. Click Upload Signed Document, upload the letter, and select Submit for Review.
- The ported numbers should appear in your account once you submit the request. You can assign the Google Voice numbers to users, auto attendants, or ring groups before porting is successful.
Porting numbers from specific providers to Google Voice
Porting your mobile number to the Google Voice VoIP phone system comes with a few additional caveats because the process differs slightly depending on your current service provider.
Port a number from Verizon, Sprint, or T-Mobile to Google Voice
The Google Voice number porting process generally remains the same as illustrated in the previous section for any carrier, though each carrier may have a slightly different porting-out process. You can find porting-out instructions on your carrier’s website.
Here are a few things to be mindful of when porting over from a mobile carrier to Google Voice:
- If your number is located in a rate center or local telephone exchange that Google’s carrier can’t access, Google Voice can’t port your number. Unfortunately, porting to another carrier first doesn’t work either.
- Verizon requires a Number Transfer PIN for authorization. You’ll first need to request a Number Transfer PIN from Verizon. When porting the number to Google Voice, use the PIN and Verizon account number for authorization.
- Verizon has a different process for prepaid and postpaid users. You’ll need to generate a Number Transfer PIN to port a number to Google Voice by dialing #7678 or calling support.
- When porting out of Sprint, remember that your account number is not your phone number. You’ll also need to set up or change your PIN from your online account page if you’ve never used it or forgotten it.
- T-Mobile also has a different process for prepaid and postpaid users. For example, postpaid users have a separate account number, while a prepaid user’s account number and phone number are the same.
How do you port a Google Voice number out?
If you’re currently on Google Voice’s free plan and looking to port your number out of Google Voice, here’s how:
- Visit www.google.com/voice/unlock.
- Find the number you want to port out and click Unlock my number under that number.
- You’ll see a pop-up message stating your messages will remain in your Google Voice account after porting the number and a prompt to pay the $3 port-out fee.
- Pay the fee.
When you’re done, you can port the unlocked number to another provider.
The process is different if you use Google Voice for Google Workspace. The slightly longer process involves the following steps:
- Sign into the Google Admin console.
- Go to Apps > Google Workspace > Google Voice > Users and select Number porting.
- Click Port-out info and click on Preview to see the port-out code.
- Copy the code.
- Your new provider may request additional information based on your location. Here are examples of information required for a few countries:
|US||PIN and primary location (zip code)|
|Canada||PIN, the customer name, and the service address zip code|
Once you have the code, you’ll need to check the porting-in process on the new carrier’s website.
OpenPhone’s porting-in process is far simpler compared to Google Voice. Try out OpenPhone during a free trial with a temporary number. Once you confirm OpenPhone is a great fit, you can submit a request to port a local US, Canadian, or North American toll-free number over — inside the OpenPhone app.
What happens if I port my number to Google Voice and change my mind?
If you change your mind, you can port the number back to your previous or new carrier. You’ll need to follow the port-out process discussed above, but you can return to your preferred carrier whenever you decide you no longer want to continue with Google Voice.
Port your number to OpenPhone: The modern business phone system
Porting your number to OpenPhone is as easy as filling out a form. We take care of the rest for you. In addition to easy porting, you get a range of VoIP features for seamless business communication.
Unlike Google Voice, you can:
- get as many toll-free and local (US and Canadian numbers) as your team needs
- port in your existing numbers for free
- work together with your team from shared numbers and use internal threads to collaborate
Plus, save time building relationships with your clients using texting. OpenPhone lets you schedule texts, save your go-to messages as snippets, and provides dozens of other ways to save time texting. Sign up for your free trial of OpenPhone to get a temporary phone number and port in your number once you’re ready to make the switch.
Arjun is a freelance writer specializing in marketing and technology. When he’s not in front of the screen, he likes to cook and play with his Labrador.