Universal International Freephone Number (UIFN)

A Universal International Freephone Number (UIFN) empowers an International Freephone Service (IFS) client to be allocated a special freephone number(s) which is identical throughout the world.

A UIFN is made up of a three-digit state code for global service program, i.e. 800, followed by an 8 digit International Subscriber Number (GSN), leading to an 11-digit fixed format. (An IFS caller must dial an international prefix before the UIFN).

Some background on UIFN.

Originally, the International Freephone Service had one access method: national freephone numbers (that the customer must communicate another number in another format in every country). This was generally too complicated for larger businesses and their clients. There was a clear market demand for a worldwide number structure.

This demand was expressed at a contribution to a research group of the ITU-T in 1993 and in 1997 UIFN was introduced by ITU and embraced by carriers/operators across the world.


IFN is for businesses who need a local profile and

UIFN is for businesses who prefer a corporate picture and need to reach customers in more than 1 nation with one message and one number

Statements associated with UIFN.

“Anyone, anywhere, who picks up any sort of telephone, ought to have the ability to dial up an International Freephone number and the telephone ought to be free”.

Since in some cases it is technically or economically not possible that calls are always free to the callers, There’s also a second announcement:

“Where a choice needs to be made between accessibility with some sort of fee and no access at all (especially with cellular phones), it’s acknowledged that access with some charge (for the callers) is preferable to no access.”
Requirements for implementation of UIFN between any two nations.

Bilateral Service Agreement of UIFN between two global carriers (the one acting as access provider for the service provider in another country and vice versa)

Present domestic 00800-interconnection arrangement with mobile and fixed operators, including payphones

Willingness of all parties involved to route 00800-calls into the UIFN access provider

The execution of an agreed method involving the international carriers to differentiate Unique origins/tariffs (usually dual routing)

If there are parties in 1 country providing access to UIFN, it will be necessary to employ a method of identification of the access provider in the community (maybe IN alternative)

A UIFN is made up of a 3-digit CC (ITU-T Recommendation E.164 state code) for a worldwide service program, 800 and an 8-digit International Subscriber Number (GSN), leading to an 11-digit fixed format.

For Instance,

An IFS client’s UIFN could be +800 12345678, where 12345678 being the IFS client’s GSN.

An IFS caller must dial an international prefix before the UIFN.

Universal International Freephone Numbering Service maximizes Company’s advertising spending by using one toll-free amount in most participating countries which streamlines business’s toll free surgeries and makes telecom management simpler. There is no need to prepare and maintain a different number for each nation.

Easier to remember, easier to market
Leverage company’s marketing efforts to advertise a single number “universally”
Builds a global corporate identity
stipulates the visual appeal of a local presence without needing a physical place in-country
Present U.S. toll-free amount can be embedded by adding preceding or trailing filler digits to reach a total of eight digits
Single-step dialing requires no operator assistance, irrespective of where calls originate
Issues with UIFN.
ACCESS: UIFN is an unregulated company, it’s not mandatory. Some telecom suppliers feel free to block or not to provide access to UIFN

DOUBLE CHARGING: some cellular providers charge cellular callers dialing freephone numbers (whilst at the same time getting wholesale prices for using the network)

TECHNICAL BARRIERS: alterations to (financial) systems have to ensure correct management between parties.