By understanding the UK’s telephone numbering scheme, you can work out how much a phone call will cost you.
In the UK, it’s normally possible to work out the cost of a phone call and whether it’s included in your allowance simply by looking at the phone number.
The most important thing to look at is the telephone number prefix (or the first few digits at the start of the phone number). The telephone number prefix dictates the cost of your call, and whether it’s included within your plan.
Please enter a phone number to find out the cost:
Enter a UK number. For instance, 07123 456 789.
As a rule of thumb, you can use your inclusive minutes to call UK landline and mobile numbers (most phone numbers beginning with 01, 02, 03 and 07). Phone numbers beginning with 084, 087 and 09 are special-rate numbers and will cost you more to call. Phone numbers beginning with 0800 and 0808 will always be free to call.
In this article, we’ll discuss UK phone numbers and how much you can expect it to cost when calling from your UK mobile plan. We’ll also present some money saving tips, and things to watch out for when calling a phone number in each category.
In the UK, most phone numbers beginning with 01 and 02 are landline or geographical phone numbers*. The area code at the start of the phone number will tell you where the landline is based. Some common UK area codes include the following:
0113 – Leeds
0114 – Sheffield
0115 – Nottingham
0116 – Leicester
0117 – Bristol
0118 – Reading
0121 – Birmingham
0131 – Edinburgh
0141 – Glasgow
0151 – Liverpool
0161 – Manchester
0191 – Newcastle
01923 – Watford
020 – London
023 – Southampton
You can call any UK landline number at your network’s standard per-minute rate. If you have inclusive minutes on your phone plan, you’ll also be able to use it when calling landline numbers.
If you’re looking for a way to save money on these calls, ASDA Mobile offers a £4 SIM card with unlimited UK minutes & unlimited UK texts included. There are also a number of mobile networks allowing you to call landlines from just 1p/minute.
* There are a number of exceptions to this rule. If you’re calling a phone number beginning with 01481 (Guernsey), 01534 (Jersey) or 01624 (Isle of Man), this is classified as a non-UK phone number. You’ll be charged international rates for making this call and you won’t be able to use your inclusive allowance of minutes.
UK National (Numbers Starting 03)
If you’re calling a phone number that begins with 03, you’ll always pay the same rate as when you’re calling a landline phone number. You’ll also be able to use the inclusive minutes you have on your phone plan.
Phone numbers beginning with 03 are often used by government departments, non-profit organisations, banks and customer service support lines.
UK Mobile Phones (Most Numbers Starting 07)
In the UK, most phone numbers beginning with 07 are UK mobile numbers*. For the most part, you’ll pay your standard per-minute rates when calling a 07 phone number. You’ll also be able to use the inclusive minutes on your plan.
One thing that’s worth watching out for: phone numbers beginning with 070 and 076 are not mobile phone numbers. Instead, they’re classified as personal numbers and pagers (both of which cost you significantly more to call). You shouldn’t return a missed call from 070 or 076 phone numbers.
* Once again, there are a number of exceptions to this rule. Besides the allocation of 070 and 076 to personal numbers and pagers, there are also allocated phone number ranges for the Isle of Man (07524, 07624, 07924), Jersey (07509, 07700, 07797, 07829, 07937) and Guernsey (07781, 07839, 07911). Phone calls to any of these numbers are classed as a non-UK call. You’ll therefore be charged international rates and won’t be able to use your inclusive allowance of minutes.
UK Freephone (Numbers Starting 0800 & 0808)
All phone numbers beginning with 0800 or 0808 are UK freephone numbers. Since July 2015, it has always been free to call one of these numbers, either from a UK landline or a mobile. These phone calls will also not count towards your inclusive allowance of minutes.
UK Special Rate (Numbers Starting 084, 087 & 09)
A phone number beginning with 084, 087 or 09 is a special service or premium-rate number. The cost of calling a special rate number is split into two parts. You’ll pay an access charge to your mobile network (typically up to 55p/minute). In addition, you’ll also pay a service charge to the company running the phone number:
084 – Up to 7p/minute
087 – Up to 13p/minute
09 – Up to £3.60/minute, £6/call or a combination of the two things
The Phone-Paid Services Authority (PSA) is the UK’s regulator for special rate phone numbers. You should contact the PSA if you have a dispute about the cost of calling a special rate number.
It’s not possible to use your inclusive minutes to call a special rate phone number. If you’re a Pay Monthly customer, the additional charges will appear on your next bill. Meanwhile, if you’re a Pay As You Go customer, you’ll need to top-up your account with enough credit before making the call.
International (Numbers Starting 00)
If you dial a phone number beginning with two zeros, you’ll be making an international call outside the UK. You’ll normally dial two zeros followed by an international country code and then the local phone number within that country.
On most mobile phones, the + sign (obtained by long pressing the zero button) can also substitute in place of dialling 00.
The UK’s international dialling code is 44. Phone numbers beginning with 0044 or +44 are therefore actually based in the UK. You’ll pay the same rate whether you dial a phone number beginning with 0044, +44 or 0. In other words, it makes no difference whether you dial 0044 7123 456 789, +44 7123 456 789 or 07123 456 789 (they’re all the same thing).
Other Phone Numbers
There are some other phone numbers not belonging in any of the above categories.
If you need to contact the emergency services (including police, ambulance, fire brigade and coastguard), you should dial 999. This is an emergency number that can be dialled for free from any phone (it works even if your handset is locked or missing a SIM card).
Other phone numbers include:
101 – This is the non-emergency police phone number. You should use it when there is no immediate response required (e.g. for general enquiries and to provide information relating to crimes in the past). It’s free to call this phone number.
105 – This is the phone number to call if you have a power cut in England, Scotland and Wales. It will connect you to the relevant electricity network operator in your area. It’s free to call this phone.
111 – This is the non-emergency NHS medical advice number. You should use it when there is no immediate response required. It’s free to call this phone number. 111 isn’t currently available in Northern Ireland.
112 – This is another way of contacting the emergency services (it’s equivalent to dialling 999). You should use it to contact the emergency services (including police, ambulance, fire brigade and coastguard). Calls to this phone number are free. 112 is a standardised phone number for the emergency services that can be called in any EU country.
116XXX – 116 phone numbers are pan-European helplines for children and adults in need. It’s always free to call a phone number beginning with 116, wherever you are in the EU. The helplines currently in operation in the UK are:
116 100 – Hotline for missing children
116 111 – Child helpline (NSPCC)
116 123 – The Samaritans
118XXX – These phone numbers are for directory enquiries. They’re normally incredibly expensive (e.g. often around £9 for a one-minute call).
There are also a number of premium-rate SMS shortcodes, normally five or six digits in length. These are used for voting in TV shows (e.g. X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent), for entering competitions and for making donations to charity. The cost of sending a text message to one of these numbers should normally be advertised, or you can check it on the Phone-paid Services Authority website.
Historical Phone Numbers
In the past, 0500 phone numbers were also in use by several companies. These have been withdrawn, as of June 2017, and will no longer work. You should contact the organisation behind the phone number to ask them for the replacement number.
In London, many outdated shop signs still refer to 0171 and 0181 phone numbers. These phone numbers prefixes have not been in use since April 2000, and should be replaced with the new versions (either 020 7, or 020 8). For instance, 0171 123 4567 should become 020 7123 4567.
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Are there any costs (per call or minute) when I call a 0800 toll-free UK number from my Jersey mobile phone? Does the provider play a role?
Great question! Unfortunately, I’m not that familiar with how charges work on a Jersey-based SIM card so it’s worth double checking directly with the mobile network.
The article says …”There are also a number of premium-rate SMS shortcodes, normally five or six digits in length. These are used for voting in TV shows (e.g. X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent), for entering competitions and for making donations to charity. …”
SMS shortcodes are used for a mixture of various free and premium rate services. Premium rate services include donations, competitions, chat services and various subscription services.
Sending a text to a shortcode may be “free-to-sender” or may cost “one standard rate (non-inclusive) message to a shortcode”. Which one it is, is set by the service provider when they set up the service. Where there is a charge, the charge is set by the sender’s mobile provider.
Receiving a message from a shortcode may be free or may incur a premium rate charge. This charge is set by the service provider. Some services send one message, others send multiple messages over time as a subscription service. Premium services can cost up to £30 per message.
Voting on a TV show is usually done by CALLING a voice shortcode, not by sending a text. Other voice services also use voice shortcodes. Charges can be up to £2 per call and/or £2 per minute.
While calls to 101 are generally 15p per call, note that these calls are free from a BT callbox payphone, giffgaff mobile, or vodafone pay-as-you-go mobile.
Additional funding from the Home Office will mean that calls to 101 will be free-to-caller from all landline and mobile providers from 1 April 2020.
Virgin Media (on all landline tariffs) and Virgin Mobile (on all tariffs) now offer free calls to 101.
All providers must offer free calls to 101 from 1 April 2020.
Since 1 April 2020, calls to the police “single non-emergency number” (snen) on 101 are now free.
This applies when calling from landlines and from mobiles and it applies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Thanks a lot for the heads up about this! I’ve amended the article above to reflect this updated charge.
Hope you’re keeping OK given all of the recent events.
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