Google Voice is one of the most significant advances in telecommunications. I am a huge fan of it, and I have used it to completely eliminate or drastically reduce my phone bills. Google Voice eliminates many of the annoyances that people have with telephones today, while also assisting in the use of current communication technology to connect us at a very low cost.
Some of my pet peeves include checking my voicemail through the phone system and keeping track of how many text messages or daytime minutes I have left. I especially dislike not knowing whether a call will incur long-distance charges. I'll show you how to use some of Google Voice's features to cut your phone bills in Canada and the United States, such as getting free long distance in Canada (even from your cell phone) and getting a home phone line via VOIP.
This post will explain how to set up your Google Voice account even if you are not in the United States.
Some of my favorite features of Google Voice are:
- Free Long Distance calling between US and Canada
- Unlimited text messaging
- Transcribed voicemail
All of Google Voice's great features can be found here.
How to Set up Google Voice in Canada
Google Voice is a service designed to provide cheaper telephony to people in the United States. As a result, it is not "supported" for use in Canada, and some extra steps are required to set it up when you are not in the United States.
The steps are as follows:
- Ensure you have a US phone number
- Ensure you have a US IP address
- Set up a Google Voice account at voice.google.com
1. Ensure you have a US phone number
You can skip this step if you already have a US phone number where you can receive phone calls or text messages (not a Google Voice number). If you don't already have a US phone number, there are a few options.
My personal recommendation (and the one I will walk you through) is Voxox. Voxox is a service that provides you with a free US phone number and forwards any calls or texts from that number to your email or a Canadian phone number. If you live in Canada, I recommend getting this service because it unlocks some of Google Voice's other features.
When you set up Voxox, make sure you have either forwarded it to a phone number that you will be able to answer or to an email address that you will be able to access.
It is important to note that your Voxox number is irrelevant. You will not give this number to anyone other than Google Voice. The only reason you have this number is to make your foreign (Canadian) phone number appear to be a US number. You will eventually give your Google Voice number to friends and family.
- Go to www.voxox.com
- Sign up for a new account
- Verify your email address
- Verify a cell phone through text messaging / SMS
- Download and install the desktop software
- Select a free US number
- Send all calls to your cell phone
- Turn off the voicemail and other general settings
- Turn off text message forwarding
2. Ensure you have a US IP address
To create a Google Voice account, Google must believe you are physically in the United States. You can find out what IP address you're using by visiting http://www.iplocation.net/. You can skip this step if the country is the United States. If you are not in the United States but need to fool Google into thinking you are, you can use a variety of services, including private VPN services and IP blockers. The one I'll show you is HotSpotShield, which is a free download that will provide you with a US IP address.
- Check your IP location
- Download and install HotSpotShield
- Choose the appropriate settings
- Confirm your IP location is United States
3. Set up your Google Voice account at voice.google.com
You have the option of creating a new Google account or linking it to an existing Google (gmail) account. After logging into your Google account and visiting voice.google.com, you will be directed to accept the terms and conditions before verifying your phone number. The phone number you verify must be the US-based number you created in step 1.
After you've verified your phone number, you'll be asked to select a Google Voice number. Most people won't care what area code they get, and if you don't, I recommend picking a number that spells out your name, matches the last four of your current phone number, is easy to remember, or is just plain fun.
Pointster's Tip - Choose Home number as your phone number type. Text messages sent to your Google Voice number will be delivered to your cell phone via the app (data) rather than text message. Your cell number will appear in replies to text messages sent from your phone, while messages sent from the app will display your Google Voice number.
NOTE: I couldn't get this to work in Google Chrome. I strongly advise you to use Firefox or Internet Explorer for this piece.
Read Also: Best Google Voice Alternatives
- From a US IP Address (see step 2), go to voice.google.com
- Sign in to your Google (gmail) account, or sign up for a new one
- Get a new Google Voice number
- Verify your number by giving a US phone number
- Your US phone number will be the Voxox number that was set up in step 1
- Select type as a Home number
- Select a number you like
Congratulations! You now have a phone number in the United States and, more importantly, access to all of Google Voice's features. The entire procedure should take about 10 minutes. Any calls to your Google Voice number will continue to ring on your cell phone unless you make any changes.
- Get a US phone number from Voxox
- Get a US IP address using HotSpotShield
- Sign up for and verify your account at voice.google.com
Set up your Google Voice account now, and I'll show you how to use Google Voice to get free long distance on your cell phone in the next post.
Hat Tip: googlevoiceforcanadians.com