By understanding the UK’s telephone numbering scheme, you can work out how much a phone call will cost you.

Phone CallIn 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.

UK Landline (Most Numbers Starting 01 & 02)

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, giffgaff offers unlimited minutes from £10/month on Pay As You Go. There are also a number of mobile networks allowing you to call landlines from just 1p/minute.

Order giffgaff SIM card (free) →

* 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.

If you’re looking to save money on phone calls to a mobile, giffgaff offers unlimited calls to UK landlines & mobiles for just £10/month (this is a Pay As You Go tariff with no contract).

Order giffgaff SIM card (free) →

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:

  • 101This 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 costs 15p per call when you call this phone number.
  • 105This is a UK-wide phone number to call if you have a power cut. It will connect you to the relevant electricity network operator in your area. It’s free to call this phone.
  • 111This 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.
  • 112This 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).

Individual mobile networks also have their own shortcodes for contacting customer services (e.g. 150 on EE, 202 or 4445 on O2, 333 on Three, 191 on Vodafone, etc).

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.

More Information

To learn more, see our guide to Pay As You Go rates in the UK. If you’ve just moved to the UK very recently, it may also be of interest to read our guide to using your mobile phone in the UK. There’s also further in-depth information in our beginners guide to telephony in the UK.

A note about your privacy: The phone numbers you enter on this page never leave your computer. The phone number you enter is categorised locally, and as such, is never communicated with our servers.

Many thanks to Ian Galpin for his numerous, invaluable contributions to this article.

Your Comments 28 so far

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 28 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  • Robert Johnston said:

    Hi
    I’ve just made a 50 minute call to an 0800 number (vistaprint) -I am in Spain on holiday and needed to place an urgent order.
    I’m on a contract with O2 …… is the call free ?

      • Robert Johnston replied:

        Hi Ken,
        Thank you for your reply and advice – much appreciated.
        I was just asking so that I didn’t get a huge financial surprise in my next monthly bill from O2.

        Cheers’
        Bob 👍🏼

        • The EU/EEA cap on roaming rates applies to calls made to ordinary landline and mobile numbers.

          As numbers starting 03, 08 or 09 are non-geographic I believe they are not covered. Check your phone bill and let us know the outcome.

          • Thanks Ian! According to the O2 website:
            ” It’s free to call freephone numbers starting 0800 or 0808 from your mobile phone or landline. These changes came into effect on 1 July 2015, as part of the UK Calling changes… Calls to 03 numbers will cost the same as other standard fixed line numbers starting 01 or 02, and are included as part of any inclusive or free minutes allowance on our tariffs.”
            Therefore, my interpretation of this along with the EU Roam Like Home rules is you should still be able to call 03 numbers using your inclusive allowance, and you should still be able to call 0800 numbers free of charge. However, @Robert, it would be great to get some feedback after your recent call from Spain.
            Ken

          • The piece you quote from the O2 website was written in 2015, some two years before the roaming rules changed and so cannot (unfortunately) be relied upon to still be accurate.

  • PhonepayPlus (PPP) changed their name to the Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA). They regulate services using numbers starting 070, 087, 090, 091, 098 and 118 plus various mobile sbortcodes. They also regulate all chatlines, adult services and internet dialled-operated services irrespective of call or message cost or prefix used.

    • Another update for the article…

      PhonepayPlus (PPP) changed their name to the Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA). They regulate services using numbers starting 070, 087, 090, 091, 098 and 118 plus various mobile shortcodes. They also regulate all chatlines, adult services and internet dialler-operated services irrespective of call or message cost or prefix used.

      • The point of the above comment about PSA was to prompt you to change the mention of PhonepayPlus in the article, and the link, to instead mention Phone-paid Services Authority and update the link…

        • Hi Ian,
          So sorry – I’ve been terrible keeping up on all of my emails recently (it’s been a crazy few weeks). Thanks again for letting me know about the changes to the PSA. I’ve just updated the article reflecting your information: hopefully it now better reflects the reality of the situation?
          Thanks again,
          Ken

  • Paul Ansell said:

    I live in the UK but I have some UK mobile numbers in my contacts with the 0044 international prefix already added. If I dial one of these numbers from the UK, will I be charged as if was an international call? I have always presumed not.

    • Hi Paul,
      Thanks for your comment. No problem at all having the contacts saved with a +44 prefix – you’ll still be charged the normal UK-to-UK rate.
      Ken

  • I’m on Vodafone pay monthly and got charged for calling 07509… (Jersey). I had no idea it was a Jersey number, it just looks like a “normal” mobile as far as I can tell. I complained as I thought 07xxx were included in my bundle and they refunded the charge plus £3 “compensation”.

  • Hi, I had very good number which I lost following to suspension of my Vodafone pay as you go account. I didn’t use the sim for over a year. I wonder what does happen to the number after that? What do I need to do to get the number back?

    • Hi Mak,
      Thanks for your comment. For more information about this very issue, please see my in-depth article on Pay As You Go inactivity (there are multiple comments on that page from people in similar situations).
      To give you a short and concise answer, there’s unfortunately no way of getting the old number back. Vodafone is highly likely to have recycled the number already (or they would have returned the phone number back to its original network if it was previously ported in). You could try calling Vodafone Customer Services in case the number is still available but there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to return your number.
      Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
      Ken

  • Calls to 080 numbers become free from mobile phones on 26 June 2015. This change does not apply to 0500 numbers. Mobile operators can continue charging for calls to 0500 numbers.

    Ofcom is closing the 0500 range. Users have until June 2017 to move to the matching 0808 5 number (final six digits remain the same) or to make other arrangements.

  • Ken,

    You need to check costs when calling Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. These start 01 but are not included in free call time from mobiles and out of bundle charges will be applied. I got caught out by this and it led to a nasty bill.

    Richard

    • Hi Richard,

      Thanks for the heads up: you make a really good point! For the reference of anyone reading this article, the following telephone prefixes correspond to numbers in the Channel Islands or Isle of Man:

      Jersey: 01534, 07509, 07700, 07797, 07829, 07937
      Guernsey: 01481, 07781, 07839, 07911
      Isle of Man: 01624, 07524, 07624, 07924

      If you call one of these prefixes, you might be charged extra.

      Ken

      • Over time, some additional prefixes have been allocated to offshore mobile providers. The current situation is:

        Jersey: 01534 0-9; 07509 0-7; 07700 3,7,8; 07797 0-9; 07829 7-9; 07937 0-9.

        Guernsey: 01481 0-9; 07781 0-9; 07839 1,2,7,8; 07911 1,7.

        Isle of Man: 01624 0-9; 07418 4; 07452 0-6; 07457 6; 07624 0-9; 07924 0-4,6-9.

        In some cases only part of a prefix has been allocated to offshore providers, with the remainder of the block allocated to UK mainland providers.

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