Home » Social Network » WhatsApp » How to make WhatsApp international calls for free

How to make WhatsApp international calls for free

Using this article, I intend to teach you how to make international WhatsApp calls at no cost to you whether you are home or in other countries abroad. You can use these methods on both iPhones and Androids.

How to make free international calls using WhatsApp

But that’s not it.

In fact, not only will I share with you everything you need to know about the subject, including how to add international phone numbers, but I’ll also reveal some useful tricks such as how to make free international calls in countries where WhatsApp is banned.

Let me introduce myself, I mind my manners 😅

I’m Frankie Caruso, an instant messaging app expert and tester for some of the most popular mobile software. If you want to know more about me, I’ll drop you a link to my bio.

Note: if you want all of these tips and helpful pieces of information to your inbox, you can take a moment and sign up for my free weekly newsletter to save you time.

Back to us.

Thanks to WhatsApp you can call friends and relatives anywhere in the world (nearly anywhere) for free.

Doing this is very simple and does not require any computer skills. All you will have to do is follow the directions provided in this guide and spare me 2 minutes of your time.


Great, enough chit-chat, let’s get started!

In short:

  • To make an international WhatsApp call, open WhatsApp > than select the contact you want to call > next choose either the phone icon or the video icon in the top right-hand corner of the screen.
  • WhatsApp international calls are always free via Wi-Fi. Depending on your cellular plan, you may incur international charges for using cellular data on WhatsApp.
  • If you are in a foreign country, I recommend turning off roaming and using only Wi-Fi, so you won’t run into extra charges.

How to make an international call on WhatsApp

Regardless of whether you have an iPhone or an Android follow these simple directions:

  1. Open WhatsApp mobile app
  2. Head to the Calls section and type in the name of the contact you want to call in in the search bar
  3. Click the phone icon to call or the camera icon to video call

That’s it!

As you can see it’s not complicated.

While we’re at it I’ll also show you how to make WhatsApp international calls on WhatsApp Desktop app.

This might come in handy, for example, if you are in an airport or hotel room and you are connected to wi-fi via your laptop.

Note: I would like to set one thing straight – when I mention WhatsApp Desktop, I am not speaking of WhatsApp Web. They are two different things. Unfortunately, as of today you cannot make international calls or video calls via WhatsApp Web.

Follow these steps:

  1. Open the WhatsApp Desktop App from your laptop (you can download it from here if you don’t have it)
  2. Select the contact you want to call
  3. In the top right-hand corner, you’ll see phone and video icons. Click on the one you want to use

how to make WhatsApp international calls on WhatsApp Desktop app

Done! Enjoy your call 😄

Everything you need to know to make WhatsApp international voice and video calls abroad or at home

When I speak of international calls, I mean both calling from your country to a different one and making calls back to your home country while you are traveling the world.

Below you can get introduced to everything you need to do to accomplish this.

Does WhatsApp charge for international calls?

As you are likely the same as everyone else, you want to know how this affects your pocketbook.

Fortunately for you, it doesn’t.

WhatsApp international calls cost nothing.

WhatsApp uses your phone’s internet connection (ex: 5G, 4G, 3G, 2G, EDGE, or Wi-Fi) to send/receive messages and to make any phone calls.

What this means is, you are not paying for messages or phone calls.

As long as you do not reach a point where you have reached your data limits, you can use cellular mobile networks or available Wi-Fi to talk around the world. Your carrier does not charge extra for the use of WhatsApp.

Now that you know you are not having to shell out any money, let’s talk about what you need to do to make international calls through the app.


Frankie’s Take:

You do not have to pay a dime to make calls on WhatsApp or receive messages. You just pay your regular bill to access data on the phone as you normally do, no extra charges or strings attached.

What is needed to make international WhatsApp calls?

Now that you are breathing a sigh of relief that your money is safe, you might be thinking: What do I need to make international calls?

In truth you do need things – three of them in fact.

  1. You need an active internet connection via mobile networks (5G/4G/3G/2G/EDGE) or Wi-Fi
  2. Have the number you wish to dial stored in your phone’s contact list (if an international number, it must have the appropriate country code)
  3. The recipient of the call must have WhatsApp installed on their phone (but you can invite them if they do not have it).

If you meet all of the above requirements, it is going to be very easy to make international calls using the app. It works the same whether you are home or somewhere else in the world using both domestic and international numbers.

Below you can see a video breaking down the process for you so that you are completely confident in what to do.

Once you watch the video, you should have a pretty good idea of what to do. If you are still struggling, you can check out a step-by-step guide to making phone calls with WhatsApp.

If you are attempting to call anyone in another country, make sure their number is stored appropriately in your phone. I can explain the importance of this and how to do it in the upcoming paragraphs.


Frankie’s Take:

There is literally no difference calling domestic or international numbers from your living room or halfway around the world. The calls follow the exact same process and use the same data streams to connect.

Adding international numbers on WhatsApp

There is no other way to call numbers from your home country and add them to your contacts than what you have always done. This should be second nature to a seasoned WhatsApp user.

International numbers are a little more complicated.

It is not rocket science to add people from another country to your contacts. The real trick is making sure that the number you are adding has the proper format.

What the heck does that mean? I will tell you.

You do know that every country in the world has its own respective country code, right? You have to add this code before the phone number you are adding of your new international contact.

EXAMPLE: Let’s say you have a friend Mark in the UK, and you need to save his phone number to your WhatsApp contacts. England’s country code (+44) must get added before Mark’s number in your contacts to ensure the call gets directed to the right place.

It is vital that you remember to add the code for the respective country, otherwise you are going to connect with someone – just likely not Mark.

So how do you figure out what code belongs to what country?

Sure, you could ask your hypothetical buddy Mark, but you could also use the infinite knowledge of the Google search engine.

Or you can use this link to check out the WhatsApp country code list. This site has all the codes for every country across the globe.

Need to call someone in your home country from abroad?

You do not need to add a country code.

For example, if you are American and you are calling a number in the United States, you do not need to add prefixes necessary for international numbers.

Here is an important bit of knowledge, though.

You might just want to get in the habit of saving all of the numbers that you add to WhatsApp with the appropriate country code to avoid potential problems.

We all have seen how WhatsApp can play some games on you from time to time, so to avoid any potential hiccups in calling, add your contacts with the country codes too.


Frankie’s Take:

When you are adding an international number, you have to start with a “+” sign. This comes before any numbers get entered. You then add the country code after this icon.

WhatsApp isn’t working in a specific country – What do I do?

You might find that certain areas of the world can make it challenging to use this app to reach out to someone back home or reaching someone in one of these areas.

Why would that happen?

Surprisingly enough, there are countries that have actually banned the use of WhatsApp. This might happen for several reasons, but it often mostly revolves around the end-to-end encryption.

WhatsApp uses this security measure to protect the privacy of users and prevent law enforcement and government entities from spying on its citizens.

While bans might not happen all over the world, you can expect them in areas like Asia, the Middle East, and parts of Africa and South America where rulers do not want citizens to have too much privacy.

A list might change regularly to accommodate new laws and regulations, but currently here are some areas where WhatsApp is prohibited:

  • China
  • North Korea
  • Cuba
  • Iran
  • Syria
  • Qatar
  • UAE (only blocks voice and video calling)

If you are traveling to these areas, you are not out of options. There are two things that you can do to get the service running right:

Below I delve a little into each of these potential solutions.


Frankie’s Take:

It should go without saying that if you are trying to reach someone living in these areas of the world, they should also be employing one of these mentioned methods to work around a WhatsApp ban.

1. What is a VPN and how can it help with international WhatsApp use?

Allow me to begin by providing simple terms to describe a VPN.

VPN, or Virtual Private Network, encrypts your internet traffic to better protect your identity online.

To put it plainly, you are signing into a private network which allows you to become invisible to unauthorized spying. It also masks your actual location, which makes it appear that you are logged in from somewhere else in the world.

Let’s use the example of being in China. You can connect through VPN to an American network and WhatsApp believes you are in the United States and work as it was designed to. You can watch the video I have included below to get a better idea of how this works.

So, the question now is: where do you find one?

There are many services available online, some even for free. While this might be a tempting term, the free service is so unreliable and chaotic that it might give you a nervous breakdown to use it.

I am sure you would prefer not to waste considerable time hunting for the best VPN out there.

Paid services are not expensive and offer a better interface.

I personally recommend and use NordVPN for the value and its reliability when I need it. I would say it’s the best, but Google has dozens of reputable companies you can choose among.


Frankie’s Take:

When you are traveling the world, it is wise to use a VPN service. Not only can you make easier international calls, but you can more readily access streaming websites, news, and personal accounts.

2. Other apps that allow international calling for free

When you travel to areas where WhatsApp has gotten banned, and you do not have a VPN service, you have no other choice but to explore other apps.

It is also possible to opt for an online service to make regular calls as you want.

If you are curious about what apps allow free international calls like WhatsApp can, surprisingly there are several.

Some of the most popular include:

It is recommended to acquire these apps before you leave for your journey and ensure that your favorite contacts have done the same.

I have already written a long article all about all the best apps to make international phone calls, so if you want to learn all of the available methods, it is now accessible. Check it out.


Frankie’s Take:

I would always recommend using a VPN while abroad so that you can access your streaming services, social media, and make phone calls – but most importantly protect your privacy. You can also benefit from some of the secondary apps to work around WhatsApp bans.

What are the drawbacks to WhatsApp for international calling?

No matter how great I can tell you that WhatsApp might be for calling internationally, this service isn’t without its cons. By my estimations, there are three potential drawbacks.

I will go over each of these individually.

1. Higher data usage on inadequate roaming packages

As you learned earlier, there are no direct fees for international and domestic video and voice calls through WhatsApp. You owe the app developers and its service nothing.

What you might owe, however, is the provider of the internet services that you use. If you are not on Wi-Fi, you are utilizing data in your cell plan which can eat up this available allotment.

But how much data can you expect to use making calls?

Voice conversations consume 500-600 kb of data per minute, or 30-35 MB an hour. Audio calls alone might not seem like much when you are calling from your own country. It is the international calls that you make abroad where you might get stuck with a higher bill.

If you are calling with a data roaming package (which is usually very skimpy) you must pay close attention not to exceed your limit. If you go over, the bill is going to be expensive at the end of the month.

This is even more so if you are intending to make video calls through WhatsApp.

With video calling, as you might suspect, the data consumption increases exponentially. Transmitting both audio and video signals over a mobile network uses 2-3 MB per minute, or nearly 200 MB an hour.

EXAMPLE: If you have a plan that only offers 1 GB of data, you have about 5 hours of video call that you can make before you are over.

The moral of this story is if you intend to use a roaming mobile data package for WhatsApp calling, you have to check with your provider to learn the full information about how much data is available.

Don’t just shrug off this advice. I have known many people who have paid excessive bills after underestimating data consumption.


Frankie’s Take:

If I am traveling the world, I schedule phone calls for the evening hours when I am back at my hotel and likely on a Wi-Fi connection. You can also seek out cafeterias and other public venues offering free Wi-Fi to save your data.

2. You cannot call numbers not directly linked to WhatsApp

You cannot use WhatsApp to dial landlines or other numbers like you would normally use your smartphone to handle.

This can be a nuisance if you are wanting to contact a business or company in another country – because they usually only offer a landline or mobile number for contacts.

That can be a pain.

So now you have no choice but to pay the exorbitant long-distance fees unless you can find a reliable alternative for making cheap international calls online.


Frankie’s Take:

In the cases where you are wanting to contact businesses, a landline, or make other regular phone calls, you can avoid spending tons of money by using one of these online services to make phone calls at cheaper rates.


I think I have said enough about the things you need to make international WhatsApp calls for free without any surprises.

Here are some of the important takeaways from the reading:

  • International calls in WhatsApp are free
  • You need to save foreign contacts with their respective country code
  • WhatsApp is banned in certain countries, use a VPN to work around this

I have also detailed a few of the potential problems that you could encounter when using WhatsApp for international calling. That is something that you should check out if you just skimmed through it.

You can find other fantastic WhatsApp tricks in this guide: fantastic WhatsApp tricks and tips you should know.

That’s all I have for you in this installment. If you want to know more or share some comments on the subject, you can always reach me through the comment box below.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel for how-to videos about WhatsApp.

As always, a hug for you.

Frankie Caruso

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for my free weekly newsletter to learn tricks and become a master of messaging apps like WhatsApp

Share this article!
About Frankie Caruso

I'm Frankie Caruso. I'm a professional amateur in that ugly business of social media, instant messaging apps and computer security. I help all those frustrated people who call themselves digital illiterates to understand something about this confusing digital world.