How to find out your international number, receive phone calls & texts from abroad

August 24th, 2010

In this guide, we outline how to receive a phone call from abroad, how to find out your number and what it’ll cost you.

What is my international phone number?

Your international phone number is similar to your UK phone number but the leading zero at the start is replaced by +44. For example, if your phone number is 07123 456 789 then your international number becomes +44 7123 456 789.

Note that your friends abroad don’t actually type this number into their phone. Usually, they’d have to replace the + sign with the international dialling prefix in their country (some mobile phones will now automatically convert the + sign into the correct prefix for you). For example, your friends in America (where 001 is the international dialling prefix) will actually have to dial the number 001 44 7123 456 789. Your friends in Japan (where 010 is the international dialling prefix) will actually have to dial the number 010 44 7123 456 789.

The recommended practice is to give out your phone number in the form of +44 7123 456 789 – most people will know what is meant by this and will replace the + sign with the international dialling prefix in their country.

Note that one very common mistake is to leave the leading zero in the international number (e.g. +44 07123 456 789). This is incorrect and the phone call will not connect.

What is my international number whilst I’m abroad?

Your international phone number will always be the same wherever you take your phone with you in the world. The +44 refers to the fact you have a UK number and not the fact that you are actually in the UK.

For example, if you travel to France then your friends in France will still need to dial your international number with the +44 prefix for UK numbers.

Note that using your phone abroad can be extremely expensive. We’ve got a detailed guide with everything you need to know about using your phone abroad including the charges, how to reduce the chance of hidden charges and cheaper ways of calling whilst abroad.

How much does it cost to receive an international call or text?

In the UK it is always free to receive phone calls and texts. You should not be charged to receive calls/texts from international numbers.

If you take your UK phone abroad, you will be charged to receive phone calls. Receiving text messages is always free.

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About Ken

Ken Lo

I'm a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005 with the aim of demystifying mobile technology for the rest of us.

Before writing about mobile technology, my background was in space & atmospheric physics. I have also worked in software development. Nowadays, I help companies to explain mobile technology to their customers. Please check out my portfolio or get in touch for more information. I'm also on Google+.

Your Comments

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 10 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  1. Vicki said:

    I have to give a transport company my mobile contact number but not sure what prefix they need.
    They will be in Croatia, I will be in Croatia but I have an Australian mobile phone. Do I tell them +61 4……….?


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Vicki,
      Yes – you’ll need to give them the international calling prefix for Australia so +61 is correct đŸ™‚

  2. Steve said:

    Thanks for the article! To confirm, if I visited the US with my UK mobile (roaming), friends in the US would have to call 001447********* even while I was there in their country?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Steve,
      That’s right. Though I think the international calling prefix is 011 in the US so they would dial 011447*********. Alternatively, they could long press the zero button on their phone to get a plus sign and they could dial +4477*********.
      Hope this helps,

      1. Steve replied:

        Brilliant, thank you Ken!

  3. Nancy said:

    I am trying to book a flight but it wont accept my phone number which is 01946 xxxxxx. I have tried +44 1946 xxxxxx but it doesn’t work.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Nancy,
      Thanks for your comment. Some websites won’t allow you to input a plus sign in the phone number field. You can normally omit this without any problems (e.g. just enter your phone number as 441946xxxxxx).
      Hope this helps,

  4. jessica said:

    I’m in australia and I’d like to give my number to someone on Gaza but I don’t know how to convert my number ??

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Jessica,
      The international dialling code for Australia is +61. When giving your phone number to someone who lives outside of Australia, you should remove the leading 0 and replace it with +61. For instance, 0455 555 555 becomes +61 455 555 555.
      Hope this helps!

  5. Rachel said:

    Ooh, neato. Thanks for this information. I'm not from the UK, but I'm fairly sure of Australia's internation prefix thing, so this has been helpful.

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