Step By Step Best Way To Use Your US Number in Israel When You Make Aliyah
I touched on this topic in a previous post I wrote (here), but I wanted to elaborate because anyone who I speak with that is making Aliyah asks me the same question: “What do I do about my US number and How do I keep in touch with people?”
I will add to that, for cheap. No one wants to spend a lot of money when they do this. The move alone costs enough.
So far, I have successfully used this process / method / technique / hack (whatever you want to call it) for the past year and a half. And I wholeheartedly stand behind it. But, I imagine as things change, it won’t last forever. But for now, its incredible. And it might. But I don’t know either. So if something goes wrong, this post is my legal right for you NOT to be angry at me, or worse 🙂
Here is the 3 step process I used:
- Transfer your American phone number to Google Voice
- Set up a Golan Telecom phone number for your Israeli line
- Forward your US number
- (optional) make your number a free landline
Step 1: Transfer your phone number to Google Voice
This part is pretty simple. One little note I like to add, is that regardless of what you decide to, this is probably the best and cheapest (free) way to at the very least hang on to your phone number that you have probably had for the past 7 years.
Head over to Google Voice (http://google.com/voice) and if you have a number already that you don’t use, just go to the settings in the top right (the pinwheel) and click Change/Port. There is a one time $20 fee to do this that you cant get around. And I believe it can only be done for cell phones so if you have a number you actively use, you might want to start thinking of ways to get creative.
A small word of caution: be careful because this will cancel your US cell phone plan. Try to do this as close to your Aliyah as you can. I did it a month before we left and got us unlimited T-Mobile cell phone plans which I forwarded my Google Voice number to.
If I recall correctly, the porting process could take up to 72 hours. So don’t be alarmed if its not working right away.
Step 2: Set up a Golan Telecom phone number for your Israeli line
The reason I say set up Golan is because I don’t know of any other carriers that give you a US number. And this is the key to everything.
In your Golan Telecom settings, there should be an option for Intentional Numbers. You will be given the option of choosing 2 International numbers that friends and family can call you on. I have US and London. It doesn’t matter what number you choose, just take any number. You will never use it again.
Seriously, don’t stress here. You will literally never use this number again. Everything else is done in the Google Voice platform.
Step 3: Forwarding Your US Numbers
After you have chosen the number, head back to Google Voice, and set up the call forwarding to your Golan international number. This is really quite simple and straightforward in the Google Voice platform under settings like the top picture.
And then that’s it. You should now have your US cell phone ringing on your Israeli cell.
(Optional) Step 4: How To Get A Free Land Line
Everything I said will work without this step. but, if you want a free US landline, you will want to add in this additional step
Go to Amazon and order the Obi100 Telephone Adapter. But I need to be clear that this is where the process is not iron clad. Obi announced a while ago that they were no longer servicing Google Voice or Google Voice blocked them… I don’t know. But regardless, they warned us that it would stop soon… but it hasn’t an still works amazing at home. That said, who knows.
But this is the device that will effectively give you a free VOIP landline in Israel.
Anyway, the setup here is pretty simple. Just follow these instructions, and you will be just fine.
A Few Other Pointers
- Google Voice can be forwarded anywhere, Since we had our numbers on Google Voice, we just forwarded our Google Voice numbers to that free US number Golan gave us and magic, our family and friends can call the same numbers we had in the US and it will ring all the way over here in Israel.
- Even when we took a trip to the US, I got us prepaid TMobile sim cards and just forwarded our Google Voice numbers to the T-mobile number.
- This entire thing is predicated on Golan giving the free US number. A reminder warning, if that goes away, so does that free call forwarding. But at least you will still have the number
- At the moment, Google Voice is free. But keep in mind, that could change.
Hope this helps and that you find it useful. Feel free to still ask me questions. I usually answer them 😛