How to Get a US Phone Number When Living Overseas

Many American expats find themselves needing a US phone number while living abroad. A US number is often required for banking, credit cards, and other services that use two-factor authentication. However, it can be challenging to get a working US number outside of the country. This guide will walk through the best options to get a US phone based on Redditor experiences.

Why You Need a US Number Abroad

As an American living overseas, you likely still have financial and other ties back in the US. Many banks, credit card companies, and other services now require two-factor authentication for login and transactions. This means that after your password, you need to input a one-time code sent via text message or automated phone call.

Without a US number, it becomes very difficult to access these services. Banks especially tend to block non-US numbers from receiving verification codes.

As one Redditor in r/expats explains:

“Currently living in Japan, but dealing with US banks, credit cards, double verification stuff is getting incredibly obnoxious without a US phone number.”

Challenges Getting a US Number Abroad

Most virtual phone services require you to already have a US number to verify your account. As one Redditor notes:

“Google Voice requires you to have a US (or maybe Canada) number to forward to when you make an account, so it just recreates the same problem.”

In addition, many banks block non-US IPs or virtual phone services from receiving verification codes. So getting a VOIP number does not always solve the problem.

One expat explains his experience:

“You can try Google Voice, but many banks are not sending SMS to virtual/VOIP numbers. Otherwise you will have to get service from a US provider.”

Solutions for Getting a US Number Overseas

Here are some options that redditors have found to work for getting a verification US number abroad:

1. Port Your Existing Number to a VOIP Service

If you already have a US cell number, look into porting it to a VOIP provider that provides SMS/calling over wifi like Google Voice or OpenPhone. Some users have success keeping banks numbers whitelisted this way.

2. Use a Friend or Family Member’s Number

As a short-term solution, you can have a trusted contact forward you verification texts and calls. But this can be inconvenient for both parties.

3. Purchase a US SIM Card

Some online providers will ship SIM cards abroad. You can then get a plan with limited talk/text for just verification purposes. Users recommend Tello or Google Fi for this.

4. Get US Number VOIP App

Apps like OpenPhone and TextNow provide US numbers and wifi calling/SMS. OpenPhone works for receiving verification calls. But text verification is hit or miss.

5. Travel Back to the US

As a last resort, some expats plan a trip back to the US to solve account verification issues in bulk. Then they can update and whitelist their foreign number after.

ProviderCostVerification Success
Google VoiceFreeLow
OpenPhone$10/monthMedium (works for calls)

Getting US Phone Number While Abroad

Getting a US phone number while overseas takes some creativity. For optimal verification success, a real US SIM card or ported number is best. VOIP numbers work for some but are blocked by many services.

Consider combining options like a trip home to update your foreign number, using a friend’s number temporarily, and signing up for a minimal cell plan. With some effort, you can maintain access to essential US accounts from abroad.


  1. I appreciate the fear regarding security, but come on, isn’t it about time the USA realised there’s a big wide world outside… ? There are @ 8 million Americans living overseas. We expats need various links to remain in the USA but we don’t all conveniently have 5 figure zips and 10 digit phone numbers!

  2. I appreciate the fear regarding security but come on, isn’t it about time the USA realised theres a big wide world outside the there are 8 million Americans living overseas. We expats need various links to remain in the USA but we don’t al have 5 figure zips and 10 digit phone numbers!

  3. Handy post. I’m an expat in 🇬🇧 and this gave me a couple of other options to consider especially with 2FA becoming standard.

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