If you want to keep your old phone number after you got a new one, or you just want a second phone number to play around with, you can port that number to the awesome Google Voice service. Here’s how to do it.
Why Would I Want to Do This?
If you recently switched carriers and got a new phone number, but you want to keep your old phone number lying around just in case, you can port it to Google Voice so that you don’t have to pay for a second plan. Calls to your old number will get forwarded to your new one, and you’ll never miss an important call because someone forgot to update their address book.
Sure, you can get a new phone from Google Voice and use it for texting and call forwarding too. However, if you have an existing number that you want to use with Google Voice, you can port it to the service and use that instead.
What’s the Catch?
First, porting a phone number to Google Voice requires a one-time fee of $20.
Secondly, when you port a number to Google Voice, you can’t use the Google Voice app to send text messages–it requires a data connection over Wi-Fi or LTE/3G. You can, however, have Google Voice forward texts to your new number. When you reply to them using your regular messaging app, they will appear to come from your Google Voice number, which is pretty cool.
The same goes for making and receiving calls–as long as you have call forwarding turned on, you can make and receive calls from your Google Voice number, even without a data connection.
Lastly, to port a number to Google Voice, you need two phone numbers:
- Your old phone number, which you are porting to Google Voice. This number must still be active when you start the porting process–do not cancel your account yet!
- Your new phone number, to which you’ll forward your Google Voice calls and texts. This can be a number on a new carrier, or on the same carrier you currently use.
If you’re getting a new number on the same carrier, you’ll just have to add a number to your account, after which Google Voice will cancel the old number for you.
Make sure you aren’t in the middle of a contract, since porting your number could incur an early termination fee (ETF) from your carrier! If you aren’t sure, call customer service and make sure they make a note on your account not to charge you an ETF when you cancel.
How to Port Your Phone NumberThe first step is to head to www.google.com/voice. If you’ve never used Google Voice before, you’ll go through the process of accepting the terms and services agreement before you can start using it. Then you’ll skip these first few steps.
If you’re an existing user, click on the settings gear icon in the top-right corner and select “Settings”.
Select the “Phones” tab if it isn’t already selected.
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).
If you have a credit card on file with Google, you can go ahead and click “Buy” when the pop-up appears. If not, you’ll need to enter in your credit card details before continuing.
On the next page, you’ll be reminded about a few things, like how your existing Google Voice number will be replaced (unless you want to keep it for $20 more), as well as how you’ll need to connect a new phone number to your Google Voice account as a forwarding phone.
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.
How to Forward Calls to Your Main NumberOnce you have your old phone number ported over to Google Voice, you can use it to text message anyone, as long as you have a Wi-Fi or data connection, or they’ve texted you first with SMS forwarding turned on. The only way to make and receive calls through your old number is to use your main phone number as a forwarding number. In other words, whenever someone calls your old phone number, that call will be forwarded to your main number.
To set up a forwarding number, go back to Google Voice Settings and select the “Phones” tab like you did earlier on. Only this time click on “Add another phone”.
Within these settings, you can get direct access to your old number’s voicemail and even set when you want calls forwarded to you at certain times, sort of like Do Not Disturb (although Google Voice has an actual, separate Do Not Disturb feature). After you’ve customized settings, click “Save”.
Once your number has been verified it will now show up under the “Phones” tab in Google Voice right below your ported number.
You’ll see a new setting here: the ability to receive text notifications on your forwarding number whenever someone leaves a voicemail on your old, ported number. Check the box next to this if you want to enable it.
At that point, though, your forwarding number is all set up and you’re good to go. If you ever want to make a call using your old phone number, you can do so from within the Google Voice app on your smartphone (if you have a data connection), or by calling your own Google Voice number to make a call.