Port a Landline Number to Google Voice

Get FREE* phone calling by porting your landline to Google Voice.

Before we get going here, please note that this process isn't free. *It will cost you about $20-$35 to port your number to a prepaid SIM card or phone, and another $20 to port that ported number again over to Google Voice. Once all that porting is paid for and completed, using Google Voice allows you to make/receive phone calls in North America for free (there are small fees per minute for international calls).

Also know that Google Voice is NOT a phone line. It is essentially a virtual phone number that FORWARDS calls to another number (or multiple numbers if need-be) which you set up within Google Voice.

It does more than that however. Once you have set up phones that it can forward to, you can also do a number of things with this virtual phone number. In my case I wanted to:

  • Move my home phone number (which use to be an actual landline) from Ooma (another paid voice over internet (VoIP) provider to what is effectively the free Google Voice.
  • Get that phone number to work with my iPhone’s contacts (using either the Google Voice or Hangouts apps available in the Apple App Store or Google Play store).
  • Save money. I was paying for Ooma Premium which, with taxes and 911 service, cost me just over $200 per year.
  • Enable text messaging with my home number.
  • Possibly use my Obi200 box (about $50) so I could connect-up my cordless phone system at some point if I care to do so. Obitalk makes it very simple to set up the box for Google Voice. Also not that, if you hook up an interface like that Obi200 box, there is a separate fee for e911 service. Obitalk's preferred vendor for e911 service is Anveo, currently $25 per year.

Plus, Google is rolling out new features such as enabling WiFi calling so no call forwarding is required!

Before you get started porting numbers — and if you are uncertain about exactly what Google Voice does — look at these help documents.

Overview

You’ll be charged a $20 fee to move your number to Google Voice from most cell phone service companies, like Verizon or AT&T, and moving a number to Google Voice is free and relatively easy.

That said, there are some things to know before you begin:

Google only ports numbers from mobile carriers. Corporate, landline, Internet-based (VoIP), and some other numbers can’t be transferred SO you have to first port it to a prepaid SIM card or phone.

Don’t cancel your phone plan before you start the transfer. To verify the transfer, Google will call your phone with a code so, at the very least, you will have to put that SIM card in an existing compatible mobile phone in order to get that call and/or any text messages that may need to be sent.

After the port is finished, you can cancel your prepaid phone plan.

Step 1: Get Your Landline Number Ported

You'll be charged somewhere between $20-$35 to buy a prepaid SIM card or a prepaid cheap mobile phone.

Your first step is to get your landline number phone number (e.g., CenturyLink, Vonage, Ooma) ported to a prepaid SIM card or phone. While you could do this yourself, the easiest method is to go to your mobile provider's store and have them help you!

Lunchtime on Sunday I went over to my local AT&T Store and sat down with a rep. It took about 45 minutes to get the SIM card set up and to start the Ooma-to-AT&T process.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure you have the AT&T rep write down the prepaid SIM's account number and set a PIN number. Verify both of them since my rep wrote the SIM account number down and left out a single digit (which was super-frustrating for me later on) and I didn't have a PIN number for the card either. I had to call 800-331-0500 and get help from them to Step 3 below.

Once done I left the store, knowing that AT&T would send me an email when the porting process was completed.

Wow! Just after dinnertime the email came from AT&T telling me the port was successful. My experience was that this process, which is supposed to take 24-48 hours to transfer, actually happened in about 7 hours (that said, your mileage may vary).

Step 2: Remove Your Current SIM and Insert the Prepaid SIM

Before we start the prepaid-SIM-card-to-Google-Voice porting process, we need to carefully remove the SIM card from your iPhone and temporarily replace it with the prepaid SIM.

These instructions below are for iPhone, but the Android process is similar. View the instructions that came with your Android device if you need assistance.

Find your model below to locate the SIM tray. To pop open the SIM tray, insert a paper clip or a SIM-eject tool into the hole beside the tray. Push in, towards the iPhone, but don’t force it, until you hear a slight "pop". If you're having difficulty ejecting the SIM tray, take your device to your carrier or an Apple Store for help.

After you remove your SIM card from the tray, notice the notch in one corner of the new SIM card. Place the new SIM card into the tray—it will fit only one way, because of the notch. Then insert the tray into the device completely and in the same orientation that you removed it. The tray also fits only one way.

In a few moments your phone will recognize the new SIM card (IMPORTANT: On your other Apple devices it may pop up and ask if you want to use this new phone number with FaceTime and as a new number. Make certain to click "NO."

Step 3: Now Port Your Number to Google Voice

On your computer, open Google Voice or click this link if you are already logged in to your Google/Gmail account.

  • If you haven’t used Google Voice on your account before, set up a new Google Voice account.
  • You’ll be prompted to pick a new number, but your transferred number will replace it.

Now to set up the port to Google Voice:

  • At the top left, click Menu and then Legacy Google Voice. Google Voice will look different, but you’re in the right place.
  • At the top right, click Settings .
  • Click the “Phones” tab.
  • Next to your current number, click Change / Port.
  • Select I want to use my mobile number. Follow the onscreen instructions to set up your new number and pay.
  • To get calls, set up phones to receive calls.

Optional: Check the status of your transfer. Numbers take 24-48 hours to transfer.

a) If you’re an existing user, click on the settings gear icon in the top-right corner and select “Settings”.

b) Select the “Phones” tab if it isn’t already selected:

c) Next to your current Google Voice number, click “Change/Port”. Keep in mind that porting a number into Google Voice will replace your current Google Voice number after 90 days, but you can pay an extra $20 to keep that number (so you’ll end up with two Voice numbers):

d) Next, click on “I want to use my mobile number” which, of course, is your landline or VoIP number ported over to that prepaid SIM you just acquired. If you’re a new Google Voice user, this will be the first screen you see after accepting the terms and services:

e) Type in the phone number that you want to port over, and then click “Check for available options”:

f) Click on “Port your number”:

g) Click on the checkboxes and read all the things you’ll need to understand before the porting process. Then click “Next: Phone Verification”:

h) The next step is confirming that you actually own and operate the phone number that you’re porting over, so Google Voice will call you at that number and then you’ll enter in the two-digit number shown on the screen on your phone’s keypad. Click on “Call me now” to begin that process:

i) Once that process is done, enter in your carrier plan account information, like the SIM's account number and PIN you received from AT&T, your last four social security number digits, and so on. In my case, this was my AT&T account info. Then click on “Next: Confirmation” and you will continue to payment screens:

j) After paying you'll come to this screen which will remind of a few things about the remainder of this process:


k) At this point, all that’s left to do is wait for the porting process to complete, which can take up to 24 hours, with text messaging capabilities taking up to three business days to fully complete.

In the meantime, a yellow status bar will appear at the top in Google Voice, saying that your phone number is in the process of being ported:

The Last Word

Now all you have to do is wait. Again, Google says 24-48 hours but, in my experience (and I've done this three times now) it is usually much faster than that.

Here are some additional resources you might find useful: