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UK telephone numbers - a quick guide.

[ Edited ]
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The National Telephone Numbering Plan for the UK has some similarities with that for the Republic of Ireland but also many differences.

 

Below is a quick guide.

 

 

UK numbers starting 01 or 02 are geographic numbers.

 

These are the area codes for towns, cities and areas around the UK.

 

Most such numbers have another ten digits after the leading zero, but there are a small number of places with only nine digits after the leading zero (due to an ancient quirk of history). After the leading zero, area codes can have another two, three, four or five digits, with the remaining digits used for the local number.

 

After the leading zero, the two digit area codes all start 02x and the three digit area codes all start 011x or 01x1. All of those numbers have ten digits after the leading zero.

 

Most area codes start 01xxx and there are only a dozen starting 01xxxx. Most of those numbers have ten digits after the leading zero. However, some of those 01xxx and 01xxxx area codes have some local numbers that are one digit shorter than normal, i.e. they only have nine digits after the leading zero.

 

Within the UK, calls to all of those numbers are included in allowances, or otherwise charged at "geographic rate".

 

However, three of the 01xxx area codes are used for offshore locations: Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man, and calls to those numbers are usually excluded from allowances.

 

 

 

UK numbers starting 03 are non-geographic numbers.

 

These numbers always have ten digits after the leading zero. 

 

Numbers starting 030x are reserved for public services and charities.

Numbers starting 034x or 037x are reserved for services migrating away from more expensive numbers starting 084x or 087x. 

Numbers starting 033x can be used by anyone.

 

Within the UK these calls to these numbers are always included in allowances on the same basis as calls to 01 and 02 numbers, or are otherwise charged the same as calling an 01 or 02 number.

 

 

 

UK numbers starting 055 are Corporate Numbers.

 

These numbers always have ten digits after the leading zero.

 

These numbers are used by a small number of businesses who wanted a very large allocation of telephone numbers without using up the supply of local numbers within their local geographic area code.

 

Within the UK, calls to these numbers are usually chargeable at rates similar to a non-inclusive call to a geographic number.

 

 

 

UK numbers starting 056 are VoIP Numbers.

 

These numbers always have ten digits after the leading zero.

 

These numbers are used by dedicated VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services.

 

Within the UK, calls to these numbers are usually chargeable at rates similar to a non-inclusive call to a geographic number.

 

 

 

UK numbers starting 070 are Personal Numbers.

 

These numbers always have ten digits after the leading zero.

 

These numbers are used for call-forwarding services where the user can set the number to follow them around from location to location. They are also used for small ads where the seller wishes to keep their personal landline or mobile number private.

 

Within the UK, calls to these numbers are often included in allowances on the same basis as calls to UK mobile numbers, or are otherwise charged at the same rate as calling a UK mobile number. This isn't yet widespread as the underlying rules changed only on 1 October 2019.

 

 

 

UK numbers starting 071 to 075 and 077 to 079 are mobile numbers.

 

These numbers always have ten digits after the leading zero.

 

Within the UK calls to these numbers are usually included in allowances, or otherwise charged at "mobile rate".

 

However, some of these numbers are used for offshore locations: Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man, and calls to those numbers are usually excluded from allowances.

 

 

 

UK numbers starting 076 are Pager Numbers.

 

These numbers always have ten digits after the leading zero.

 

Within the UK, calls to these numbers range from free to very expensive. They are never inclusive in allowances.

 

Note that the 07624 prefix is not used for pagers, instead it is one of the mobile phone number ranges used in the Isle of Man (another ancient quirk of history).

 

 

 

UK numbers starting 080 are non-geographic "freephone" numbers.

 

Numbers starting 0800 can have either nine or ten digits after the leading zero.

Numbers starting 0808 always have ten digits after the leading zero.

 

Within the UK, calls to these numbers are always free-to-caller and do not show up on itemised bills.

 

 

 

UK numbers starting 084, 087, 090, 091 or 098 are non-geographic "premium rate" numbers.

 

These numbers always have ten digits after the leading zero.

 

Within the UK, these calls are charged in two parts. There is an Access Charge and a Service Service. 

The Access Charge is set by, and paid to the benefit of, the caller's phone provider and is charged per minute.

The Service Charge is set by, and paid to the benefit of, the called party and their telecoms provider. The Service Charge is the "premium" and it can be charged per call, per minute or a combination of both.

 

The Service Charge depends on the exact number called. The upper limits are:

- on 084 numbers, up to 7p per call and/or 7p per minute,

- on 087 numbers, up to 13p per call and/or 13p per minute,

- on 09 numbers, up to £6.00 per call and/or £3.60 per minute.

 

All services with a Service Charge of more than 7p per call or per minute, and some specific services below that threshold, are defined as Controlled Premium Rate Services (CPRS) and are regulated by the Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA).

 

 

 

UK numbers starting with a 1.

 

There are only a small number of special numbers.

 

The following numbers cannot be dialled from outside the UK.

 

101 - police non-emergency number.

 

105 - power cuts and blackouts helpline (except NI).

 

111 - NHS non-emergency number (except NI).

 

112/999 - all emergency services.

 

116xxx - Helplines of Social Importance (116 000, 116 111, 116 123).

 

Within the UK, calls to the above numbers are free-to-caller.

 

Note: Until April 2020 some providers will continue to charge 15p per call for calls to 101.

 

118xxx - Directory Enquiries (DQ) services. Within the UK, these are charged at premium rates using the same Access Charge plus Service Charge pricing system as used for other premium rate numbers. There is a cap on the Service Charge for 118 numbers. This is up to £3.65 per call and/or £2.43 per minute with a hard limit of £3.65 per 90 seconds of a call. These numbers are also regulated by the Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA).

 

 

 

Network numbers and shortcodes.

 

There are also a small number of UK network- or provider-specific numbers, not mentioned here as well as the usual five-, six-, or seven-digit mobile shortcodes starting with a 6, 7 or 8. These are used both for voice and text services with a mixture of prices from free to premium rate. Those where the charge is more than 10p per call, per minute or per text are regulated by PSA. 

 

 

 

 

 

Re: UK telephone numbers - a quick guide.

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Further notes

 

Although listed above, it is very rare to have to call a number starting 055, 056, 070 or 076. There is very little usage of these four number ranges.

Most calls will be to numbers starting 01, 02, 03, 07 (except 070 or 076) or 080.

 

There are two non-standard 08 numbers still in operation, 0800 1111 and 0845 4647, with only seven digits after the leading zero. These are the only two numbers of this type.

Childline on 0800 1111 is also available on 116 111.

NHS Direct Wales is phasing out 0845 4647 in favour of 111.

NHS Direct and 0845 4647 ceased operation in England in 2014, replaced by the new NHS 111 service on 111.

In Scotland, NHS 24 has also changed from 0845 4647 to 111, also in 2014.

 

Since 13 June 2014 it has been illegal for retailers, traders and passenger transport companies to operate premium rate 084, 087 or 09 numbers for contact by customers. Where these numbers are still operated (illegally!) the business must refund the call charges to the caller.

 

Since 26 October 2015 usage of premium rate 084, 087 and 09 numbers by financial services firms for contact by customers has been banned by the FCA.

 

Since 26 December 2013, usage of premium rate 084, 087 and 09 numbers has been banned for government departments their agencies and contractors. There has been almost 100% compliance.

 

Where premium rate 084, 087 or 09 numbers are found online and purporting to be for one of the above purposes, the number is probably either out of date or is very likely to be a fake phone number or part of a scam.

 

Most businesses have got rid of their premium rate 084 or 087 numbers. Most of those have migrated to the exactly matching 034 or 037 number where the rest of the digits stay the same. A small number have instead chosen some other 01, 02, 03 or 080 number.

 

It is rare to have to call a premium rate 084, 087 or 09 number. This is usually needed only when accessing a genuine premium rate service, such as a chatline or entering a competition.

 

A small number of busineses still have their sales lines on 084 or 087 numbers, mostly those who are unaware their number is a premium rate number, unaware of the changes made to these call charges in 2004 and 2015.

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