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How to use Gmail without a phone number
Many people seem to think that because you can access Gmail on your phone, you need a phone number to set up a new Gmail account. But is that really the case? While Google recommends adding a phone number to your Gmail account for security purposes, is one essential? Or can you get away with not adding a number at all? Can you use Gmail without a phone number?
In most countries, you don't need a phone number to use Gmail or any Google service. While adding a phone number is recommended to receive verification codes and password reset links, it isn't always essential. However, if you add a phone number, you can only add the same number to four Google accounts.
In the US and some other jurisdictions, Gmail does require you to enter a phone number. But there are still some options to avoid giving the service your genuine number in such cases. See the final section below for details.
How to use Gmail without a phone number
In many parts of the world, you don’t need to have a phone number on a Google or Gmail account. Google heavily promotes the idea of contacting you with verification codes and assisting with account lockout situations. But if you choose to withhold your number, nothing bad will happen. Your Google and Gmail accounts will continue to work as usual.
If you decide to add your phone number for security purposes, you can only use the same number for up to four different accounts. After that, you can use a different security verification process, such as two-factor authentication or a Yubikey.
But if you’ve reached your four-account limit, you don’t want to use another verification method, or you don’t want Google to know your phone number, sign up for an account as usual, and keep the phone number field blank. As you can see, it’s clearly marked as optional.
How to set up a Google account without a phone number
Here’s how to set up a Google account in less than two minutes.
- Go to the Google sign-in page and click Create account. Select whether the account is for personal use, business use, or for a child (the child account has extra safeguards installed.)
- Complete the details requested on the screen. Remember to select a strong password.
- Ignore the phone number field and instead enter a recovery email (more on that in the next section.)
- Confirm your personalization settings, such as Web & App Activity.
- That’s it. Your account has now been created.
Gmail is still asking for a phone number
There are some countries, including the USA, where providing a phone number is mandatory. You may be prompted to enter one as verification when you set up the account, with no option to skip.
There are a few ways to get around providing a phone number that you don’t want on Google’s radar. The most effective methods are to provide a temporary/dummy phone number or to use a VPN. But depending on where you are, you may not even have to go to those lengths.
We’ll outline a few of your options here.
Provide a temporary or dummy phone number
Gmail only needs a phone number once in order to verify your account. Once verified, you can remove any phone number associated with your account easily. All you need is the ability to receive that one code that will be sent when you provide the number initially.
This gives you a few options. The most obvious is to use the number of a friend or family member. Check that they agree to receive the code, enter their number, and then ask them to pass the code to you.
You can also use a dummy number to receive an SMS verification from Google. One such free service is Free SMS Verification. This is a useful service, but you must be aware that your code will be viewable to anyone on the site, although they are unlikely to know which Gmail account it relates to.
Another option is to create a virtual number for yourself. There are a number of free and paid services which offer this service. Check out our guide to creating a burner phone number to find out more.
Use a VPN
If Gmail requires you to provide a phone number in your country, then you can always just trick it into thinking that you’re somewhere else in the world. This is one of several benefits that a VPN can provide, as well as extra security and anonymity for your browsing.
Free VPNs are usually not great for many purposes due to their slow speeds and limited data allowance. However, for the purposes of setting up a Gmail account without entering a phone number, those things aren’t of much relevance. Even so, most top-tier VPNs, such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN have free trial periods that you could use just to set up your Gmail account.
Check out our guide to the best VPNs for more info.
Avoid your new account looking like a spam account
While there are some places where you are asked for a phone number at any time, there are other countries in which you’ll only have to provide one to confirm that you’re not a robot. If this is the case, there are ways to avoid Google thinking your account is a spam account.
Is there anything in the email address that would make Google think you’re a spam robot? Maybe the email is email@example.com? If so, change the username. You could try using a different device or IP address. Contrary to the method above, it might be that having a VPN turned on is showing as a red flag to Google, so you can try switching it off.
Create the new account through your Android or iOS device
Sometimes, you can be asked to provide a phone number on desktop when setting up a Gmail account, but it is optional when using your phone. This could be directly through the Gmail app or through the settings on your phone.
Check out our guide on how to set up a Google Account on Android and iOS for more info.
Set your age to 15 years old
This is a common suggestion we see for avoiding having to provide a phone number. It’s been suggested in the past that Google won’t require you to provide a phone number if you have indicated that you are under 16 years of age, as many adolescents don’t have a phone. It’s our understanding that this no longer works, but it may be region-dependent if you want to give it a try.
Another method commonly touted but unlikely to work is using private browsing, such as Incognito Mode on Chrome. But Google knows all, and this is also unlikely to be successful.
Yes, it can — go to your Google account, then Personal Info > Contact Info > Phone. Click the pencil to edit the number or the trash can to delete the number entirely.