Caller ID Information: Understanding How It Works


What is Caller ID?

Caller ID allows the recipient of a phone call to see the phone number or name of the caller before answering the call. However, caller ID differs across all carriers, phones, and numbers. This article will review the different kinds of caller ID, limitations around incoming and outgoing caller ID, and frequently asked questions.

Understanding Different Types of Caller ID

  • CID (Caller ID Number): This is the most basic form of Caller ID, showing only the caller's phone number. It's the most common and universally recognized format. In the case of Talkroute, you can customize your CID to display any of your Virtual Phone Numbers for both incoming and outgoing calls, offering flexibility and control over how your calls are identified.

  • CNAM (Caller ID Name): CNAM takes caller identification a step further by displaying the name associated with the calling number and the number itself. This is particularly useful in a business context, as it allows displaying a company or individual's name, making the call more recognizable. For CNAM to work, the receiving party's carrier performs a CNAM dip, essentially a lookup in a database to fetch the name associated with the incoming number. Talkroute enables you to set a unique CNAM for each of your Virtual Phone Numbers.

  • SIP Header: SIP Headers are used in VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calls. They differ from traditional CNAM because the caller ID name is sent along with the call data, not retrieved separately by the receiving carrier. This method is typically functional when the caller and receiver use VoIP services. Talkroute recognizes and displays caller ID names from SIP headers in your call history area for incoming calls when provided.

  • 3rd Party Apps and Internet-Sourced Names: This is the newest form of caller ID. Unlike CNAM, which relies on a carrier's database, third-party apps like Truecaller or Google use online directories and user-contributed data to identify callers. When you receive a call, these apps cross-reference the number with their databases to display a name. This means that the name shown might differ from the official CNAM record, as it's based on potentially more diverse and dynamic data sources. You should contact the app provider directly to resolve any discrepancies in the name these apps display. Talkroute users should know that these apps operate independently, and their displayed information might not always align with the CNAM we set for your number.

Outgoing CNAM Limitations

  • Character Limit:
    Caller ID names are limited to 15 alphanumeric characters, a space, and a period. Special characters are prohibited, and the name displayed should be directly related to the individual or business. The name is typically presented as capital letters.

  • Caller ID Name Display:
    Some call recipients might see the correct name, while others may not or even see a name at all. This is largely due to differences in carriers, devices, numbers, and caller ID methods used. 

    In the US, CNAM data is stored in various databases managed by different service providers. A particular carrier is not required to look up a Caller ID Name or perform a CNAM dip. Even if the call's receiving carrier performs a CNAM dip, it may be infrequent. If any carrier has not performed a CNAM dip recently for a number, an old Caller ID name can be displayed.

    Most mobile phone carriers do not dip CNAM for a caller ID name by default. Some mobile carriers offer CNAM as a separately paid addon, while others rely on 3rd party applications and online sources to show a caller ID name.

  • Number Restrictions: Toll-free numbers use a separate standalone database compared to local US number CNAM, storing records specifically for toll-free Numbers. Carriers may not support or dip into this toll-free CNAM, which often results in displaying a generic name like "Toll-Free Call" or something similar. 

    CNAM services are generally not as widely available or standardized in Canada as in the US. Canadian carriers may not support CNAM at all, or the implementation may differ significantly. For calls between the US and Canada, the CNAM display can be unpredictable. A US CNAM might not display correctly on Canadian devices and vice versa.

  • Rate Center and Locality Display: Carriers may display the rate center or locality of the caller's number instead of the CNAM. A number's rate center or locality is tied to the area code and prefix of a number (the first six digits) and cannot be changed.

Incoming Caller ID

  • Incoming caller ID setting: Talkroute will display your Virtual Phone Number by default when you receive a call from our service. You can choose to display the caller's phone number instead for each incoming call. Since both cannot be shown at the same time, each of these has its advantages and drawbacks.

    • Incoming ID as the Virtual Phone Number: As mentioned above, by default, your virtual phone number will display for incoming calls routed to your devices. This is so you can easily determine if the call came through our service, as you would only see the caller's phone number if they dialed your device's direct number. This option is best if you use a phone for personal and business calls. If you have multiple virtual phone numbers under the account, any of them can be selected for the incoming caller ID setting. 
      You can set a contact on your device for the virtual phone number to more easily identify calls and, if your device allows it, even set up a specific ringtone. You can always go into your Talkroute call history area to see the caller's phone number after the call completes.

    • Incoming ID as the caller's phone number: This option will display the caller's phone number for incoming calls with Talkroute. If you use a landline or cell phone to receive the incoming call, all that will show is the caller's phone number, not the Virtual Phone Number. This option is typically best if you use a phone dedicated to receiving Talkroute calls. However, if you use the Talkroute web or desktop applications, the caller's and virtual phone numbers will display simultaneously. Talkroute does not dip CNAM for incoming calls, but if you have CNAM or any other caller ID services available on your cell or wireline device, a caller ID name can still appear. 

To find more information on how to change the incoming caller ID settings for your account, please visit our article here:
How to Change the Incoming Caller ID

How to Request a Caller ID Name for Your Number

We can manually set CNAM for your Talkroute virtual phone numbers anytime outside of a trial period. Simply contact us at, including the virtual phone number(s), name(s), and the account number associated with the number(s).

Please remember that CNAM is limited to 15 alphanumeric characters, a space, and a period. Special characters are not permitted and the requested name should be directly related to the individual or business. If names are provided over the 15 character limit, only the first 15 characters will appear.


Why doesn’t my Caller ID name always display?

Differences in carriers, devices, phone numbers, and caller ID methods can all affect how caller ID is displayed. Talkroute can set a caller ID name upon request; however, we have no control over how carriers display caller ID name information to the receiving party.

How long does it take for my new CNAM show?

Most CNAM requests are processed within 24 hours. Once set, the caller ID name typically takes 2-4 weeks to appear. This timeframe is not guaranteed as it depends on how frequently the receiving carrier performs CNAM dips. 

Can I have a different CNAM for each of my numbers?

Yes, we can set a unique CNAM for each virtual phone number you have with our service.

I recently got my virtual number. Why does it display a caller ID name not associated with me?

Generally, most available phone numbers are not brand new and have been previously used by other carriers or subscribers. An old CNAM entry or online presence for the number likely exists. The caller ID name appearing this way may not be the same for all carriers or services depending on the lookup method. We can set a new CNAM entry for the number to replace the old name, but if the name is sourced from an online presence, then the caller ID name service would need to be contacted directly to request the change. 

Can I change the CNAM if I set one already?

Yes, we can change the CNAM for a virtual phone number, even if it has already been set or changed previously. 

Can I use a different number as the CID or CNAM?

You can have your CID appear as any virtual phone number under your Talkroute account. Unfortunately, we cannot display non-virtual phone numbers as the CID or set a phone number as the CNAM.

If I move my number to another service or move a number to your service, does the caller ID stay with the number?

Talkroute does not clear CNAM information when a number is ported away from our service. CNAM may carry over from your provider to Talkroute, depending on the carrier and their processes. It's recommended that the CNAM record is updated whenever moving a number from one carrier to another. 


Understanding Caller ID can be complex, but we're here to help. If you have any questions or need assistance with your Caller ID settings, please let us know!


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