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International Faxing: A Complete Guide

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For many companies that do business in other countries, faxing is a critical part of a communications strategy. Online faxing in particular can be a boon; instead of waiting by a machine at 1am for a fax, you know it will go to your email.

Most online fax providers make it very easy to send international faxes (look here for a list of fax providers that allow you to send internationally.) If your international faxing needs go beyond sending the occasional non-North American fax, here’s a guide to the ins and outs of making it work.

Getting an International Number

If you’re interested in getting a non-U.S. or non-Canadian fax number, for the most part it’s an easily integrated step within the process of signing up with a new provider. If you already have an international fax number that you wish to port in, first check to make sure the provider you have in mind allows number porting for that country.

Providers that offer international numbers include MyFax, MetroFax, eFax, RingCentral, and HelloFax.

Some providers will let you pick the country code you want your number to come from as you sign up online; for some, you may have to call the company to get an international number. MetroFax, for instance, offers only U.S. and Canadian numbers through its online signup, but upon calling customer service we were told that it is possible to obtain a non-North American number.

Others, like HelloFax, offer international numbers to an extent – outside of the U.S. and Canada, it offers numbers throughout the U.K.

It may take up to 10 business days for your international number to become active after you sign up for a new account. Some providers charge an extra fee, typically about $15 per month, to have an international number.

If you’re outside the U.S. or Canada and you’re trying to get a non-U.S. fax number, you may still be able to use a U.S.-based provider; some have expanded to provide local numbers European countries, while some, like eFax, have a presence in other countries (the U.K., in this case.)

Using an International Number and Faxing From the U.S. to an International Number

Once you have your number, sending a fax – whether from a U.S. number or an international number – is a simple process. You’ll need to remember to enter an international call prefix (from the U.S., it’s 011), a country code, and then the area code and number you’re dialing.

Costs

If you’re dialing an international number from the U.S., international rates will apply. They vary slightly for each provider, so be sure to check out what your provider charges. Here’s an example of RingCentral’s international dialing rates.

Some providers offer what’s known as a “free faxing zone,” which means you can send faxes to those countries at no extra charge. Here’s an example of MyFax’s free faxing zone. Each provider has different free faxing zones, so check with different services before choosing which one to sign up with.

You may be wondering why those international charges apply if your fax provider is sending faxes online; does the provider actually incur a fee for sending internationally, or is that just an extra revenue stream? The answer is probably both: some online fax providers do actually send to physical fax machines, in which case they have to use a telephone network.

image via Creative Commons