What does it mean when there is “no answer” to a fax?

Last Update: August 9th, 2021

“No answer” to a fax means that either there is no fax machine at the fax number entered, or the fax machines failed to connect.

Why is it “no answer”?

A fax machine (or computer running fax software, an online fax service, or a fax server) needs to be present (and on) at the destination fax number. Most fax machines will automatically answer the fax. However, some require a person to be there to answer it.

For a fax to transmit, the line needs to be clear so that the fax machines can communicate. The most common problems with line clarity come from the use of VoIP phone lines (they don’t work well with fax) as well as regular phone lines that have a lot of noise on them.

If something interrupts the fax call (for example a person picking up a telephone on the same line as the fax) before the faxes start communicating, then “no answer” is the error message.

Troubleshooting #1 – check the number you’ve entered

Most “no answer” fax problems come from an incorrectly entered fax number.

If you are in a corporate office, sometimes a “9” or “7” needs to be added to a phone number to call an outside line.

If you are dialing to an international location, check to make sure that you are properly dialing the call sequence. International fax numbers may be listed with instructions on how to call from a different country than the one where you are dialing.

If you have been using speed dial to send the fax, try sending the fax again by manually dialing the fax number. A fax number may have changed, but speed dial system may still have with the old fax number.

Calling the person you’re sending the fax to and confirming their fax number can also help make sure you have the right fax number.

Troubleshooting #2 – check the quality of fax connection

A fax connection needs a clear line. A fax line with static or noise on it (on either your fax machine or the fax machine you’re sending to) will have trouble sending a fax, especially one with many pages or complex visuals.

VoIP phone lines have a reputation for working very badly with fax. While there are many workarounds, VoIP and fax are mostly incompatible.

Sources and more resources

Microsoft AnswersSending a fax results in “no answer” after dialing – Q&A on a Microsoft support forum using Windows Fax and Scan in Windows 7. The problem is that there is no answer to the fax when the fax number is dialed.

HP supportI am getting a “no answer” message when I try to fax on my Officejet 7310xi… receiving a fax works – HP help forum discussion on getting no answer when sending a fax but receiving the fax works.