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A Guide to Virtual Phone Numbers

A Guide to Virtual Phone Numbers


10 min read

Blog Articles

Quick Summary

Virtual phone numbers are numbers not bound to a physical fixed landline or sim card. Find out how these flexible phone numbers can be a benefit to your business.

What Is A Virtual Phone Number?

A virtual phone number is one without ties to a physical phone line or device. As a result, virtual phone numbers are location-independent. They work and appear in the same way as regular phone numbers. The only difference is added ease and efficiency.

Virtual numbers make it easy for businesses to use the right type of phone number since they make all phone number types accessible. Since the line is virtual, you won't even need to wait for a physical phone line installation.

business taking remote call with virtual phone number

Virtual numbers make it possible to make and take business calls from anywhere.

How do Virtual Numbers Work?

A virtual landline number works in conjunction with a cloud-based phone system to facilitate voice calls. Instead of being linked to a SIM or landline, a virtual phone number is associated with a virtual phone line.

Cloud-based phone systems, sometimes known as virtual phone systems, are Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms that recreate all of the physical aspects of a traditional business phone system in code. The software takes care of the logic and transmits voice data using the physical infrastructure of the internet (copper and fibre optic cable).

Your phone numbers are stored in the cloud along with all the rest of your virtual phone service, meaning you can configure call routing, call queues and more with your phone system from any computer or phone with an internet connection.

The cloud-hosted, software framework on which virtual numbers and their phone systems are based lends itself well to the world of Apps. Virtual landline phone numbers can be linked to VoIP apps for even greater flexibility. For example, you can take business calls with your business' UK virtual phone number from your personal mobile phone or even from your desktop computer using a VoIP app.

How are Virtual Numbers Linked with Virtual Phone Lines?

A SIM card/phone never knows its own phone number.  It’s the network provider itself that establishes, and stores a record of, that link between the SIM card and the phone number.

Virtual landline numbers are much the same.  Here at Yay.com, for example, all of your phone numbers, virtual or otherwise, are linked with your account.  You can even use your regular phone numbers with us by either (i) porting those numbers over to us, or (ii) proving that you own them by supplying us with the necessary documentation.

When a call comes through to any of these numbers, our platform recognises the association with your account.  Then, direct the call according to the call route you've assigned the number to.

hand holding phone hash key symbol

By existing in the cloud, virtual business phone numbers offer much more flexibility than traditional phone numbers.

The Difference Between Virtual and Traditional Phone Numbers

In many ways, all phone numbers are ‘virtual’. What makes a regular number ‘physical’ or ‘non-virtual’ is the inflexible link these numbers have been given by telecoms companies with physical SIM cards or physical phone lines.

The primary distinction between virtual and non-virtual phone numbers boils down to the degree of freedom you’re afforded.  Rather than being locked to a physical device (either a SIM card or a physical phone line), your virtual numbers are hosted in the cloud.  This means you're free to link/unlink them with any number of virtual phone lines at any time.

Even these virtual phone lines can be linked to any number of physical devices by using VoIP apps (aka softphones).  In this way, you could have a single virtual number routing calls through to dozens of physical devices.  Or, you could have one device receiving calls to dozens of phone numbers.  In this way, the traditional restriction of "one device, one phone line, one phone number" is lifted, giving you the freedom to make and take your business calls in the way that suits you. With older physical copper landlines and PSTN services being turned off in 2025, moving to a virtual system sooner rather than later is advised. 

smart man with glasses dialling number in phone booth

Whilst regular phone numbers are linked to a single physical phone line, virtual numbers can be linked to multiple virtual lines.

Types of Virtual Phone Number

The same categories of phone numbers apply to virtual numbers too.  Geographic, non-geographic and national UK virtual phone numbers for business are all available.


Geographic phone numbers have a leading area code.  Manchester phone numbers lead with 0161 for example.  Geographic phone numbers are great for businesses with a local presence and loyal, local customer base.

Geographic virtual phone numbers also hold the advantage of giving businesses a chance to ‘expand’ into an area they don’t yet have an office in.  If you have a remote team of technical engineers in Bristol, but your customer support team is located at a different location, you can offer those Bristol customers a firm sense of local support by providing a Bristol phone number as well.


Other businesses might not want a geographic phone number, preferring an expansive image.  Non-geographic phone numbers can help here.  Many of the prefixes used by non-geographic phone numbers are reserved for use by Government bodies and other official agencies.  In the UK, the 0330 phone number is the most widely available non-geographic phone number.  If your business operates nationwide and you want to communicate a sense of omnipresence and size to your customers, a non-geographic phone number could be for you.


International phone numbers are best for businesses who do business abroad.  This category includes all phone numbers ‘belonging’ to countries outside of your business’ home country.

Use international phone numbers to enable French customers, for example, to be able to reach you on a French phone number.  This saves your customers overseas from being charged hefty calling costs just to reach you with an enquiry about your latest product.

Since international virtual numbers are hosted in the cloud too, there is no red tape to jump through and no convoluted setup process.  Just purchase an international virtual phone number, assign it to a particular call route and you’re good to go.

female entrepreneur calls virtual phone number on mobile

With a virtual phone service, customers from all of the world will be able to reach you no matter where you are.

Advantages of Virtual Phone Numbers

Appear local to callers whatever your location

If you’re an SME, startup or an expanding business, virtual numbers provide a simple and effective means of appearing local to customers. This applies if your callers are in the same town or city as you, or even if they’re in a different country or continent. Listing a local phone number on your advertising or website can also help your business attract local customers.

Present professionally when dialling out with your virtual landline

Virtual phone numbers make small businesses appear more professional. Dialling out from a local, non-geographic or toll-free phone number makes a  more favourable impression on customers than dialling out with a mobile/cell phone number and can boost trust in your organisation.

Link teams across different locations

VoIP phone numbers also prove versatile when it comes to multi-office businesses and remote working. Without the need to physically be installed in an office, calls to a single number can be distributed to multiple locations, phones and departments. So instead of incoming calls routing to one office only, our cloud-based VoIP phone system and virtual phone lines allow them to be distributed wherever you wish.

Track marketing campaigns using virtual phone numbers

Using specific phone numbers for specific advertising campaigns can also prove useful. By funnelling calls to dedicated virtual landline numbers you can monitor where calls are coming from. A quick look at the call logs in your Yay.com dashboard will reveal which campaigns have been most successful.

Reduce call costs

Virtual phone numbers can save your business money. Neither VoIP phone systems nor virtual numbers require any hardware. This means you save on both the initial purchase cost and any maintenance fees. What's more, virtual numbers scale with your business. If you have more numbers than you need, just delete some and they'll be removed at the start of your next billing cycle. Or, if your business is growing and you need to purchase new phone numbers, you can do so at any time and they'll be available for you to use right away.

How Much do Virtual Phone Numbers Cost?

The price of a virtual number varies depending on:

1) Whether the number is deemed 'memorable' or not

2) Whether the number is geographic or non-geographic

3) Whether the number is domestic or international

Memorable Numbers

A phone number is considered memorable if it has many consecutive digits.  The cost of a memorable number scales with how easy it is to remember (in other words, with the number of consecutive digits it contains).

Most of our memorable numbers are priced between £9.99 and £19.99/month (exc VAT) but, depending on the number, the majority of our virtual number pricing starts from as low as £1.99/month.

As an example, a memorable 'gold number' such as 020 811 1111 could cost more than 020 827 6412 due to it being a more desirable number.

Memorable numbers cost more than other kinds of numbers as they are in higher demand.  Since they're easier to remember, these numbers can be read out or displayed during an advertisement and the probability is high(er) that listeners will remember the number.

Prices can vary negligibly between geographic and non-geographic numbers, with the memorability of a number being the factor that drives price the most.

You can buy virtual phone numbers from Yay.com.  With all of our plans, one or more free virtual phone numbers are included.

How to Get a Virtual Phone Number

Yay.com users can buy virtual phone numbers with the following simple steps:

Log into your Yay.com dashboard. Navigate to ‘Voice’ and ‘My Numbers’.

  1. From the ‘My Numbers’ section, click the ‘Purchase Numbers’ button at the top right.
  2. Search for virtual phone numbers according to your needs and add those you like to your basket.
  3. Click the trolley icon at the top right of the page and check out.

Your new virtual business numbers are available in your dashboard to assign to call routes in an instant.

You can purchase new virtual phone numbers during the sign-up process. All new customers are offered one or more virtual phone numbers for free as a thank you from us! Just pick the plan that’s best for you and your teams, and then choose the virtual landline you want from our extensive range of local, non-geographic and international numbers. No installation required, no long wait times, no hassle.

Buy a Virtual Landline

Choose your own virtual landline number. Reduce your business costs and increase your flexibility.

Small and large businesses alike are set to benefit from virtual business numbers. Kickstart new growth in your business by exploring overseas markets with international phone numbers. Deepen trust and existing relationships with your local customers with geographic phone numbers, or use non-geographic phone numbers to show that yours is a business that can be reached anytime from anywhere.

Get in touch with our five-star support team for a phone system quote or choose from over 2 million virtual business numbers and get started today.

A Guide to Virtual Phone Numbers

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Article By

Adrian - Digital Marketing at Yay.com


Digital Marketing at Yay.com

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ISO 27001 Business Continuity Accreditation ISO 22301 Business Continuity Accreditation Cyber Essentials Certificate of Assurance G-Cloud accredited by the Crown Commercial Service