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Using Telephones in London

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Recognizing London Telephone Numbers
Target dial phone
© Laura Porter, licensed to About.com, Inc.

London Area Code
020 is the dial code for the whole London area. A standard London telephone number looks like:
(020) 7xxx xxxx or
(020) 8xxx xxxx or
(020) 3xxx xxxx (020 3xxx xxxx numbers were released in 2005.)

  • The fourth and fifth digits 72 to 79 were mostly inherited from old 0171 numbers, and are still mostly inner London.
  • The fourth and fifth digits 82 to 89 were mostly inherited from old 0181 numbers, and are still mostly outer London.
  • The fourth and fifth digits 70 and 71 are new numbers and can be anywhere in London (Numbers like 0171 0xx xxxx and 0171 1xx xxxx were not valid in the old system).
  • The fourth and fifth digits 80 and 81 are new numbers and can be anywhere in London (Numbers like 0181 0xx xxxx and 0181 1xx xxxx were not valid in the old system).

How To Write London Telephone Numbers
You will often see London telephone numbers written incorrectly as:
0207 xxx xxxx or 0208 xxx xxxx or 0203 xxx xxxx
Note, the London dialing code is (020) so this incorrect spacing can be confusing as you'll think there's a 4 digit area code. London local numbers have eight digits after the (020) area code.

UK Telephone Numbers
These places use the (02x) xxxx xxxx format:

  • London, Southampton, Portsmouth, Coventry, Northern Ireland, Cardiff.
If the code is (011x) or (01x1) then the number is written as 01xx xxx xxxx. That affects numbers in most of the major population centers in the UK, outside of London:
  • (01x1) Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, Tyne and Wear/County Durham
  • (011x) Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, Bristol, and Reading.
Other UK area codes start (01xxx) xxxxxx.

Check UK area codes on the Ofcom Area Code Tool.

Cell Phone/Mobile Phone Numbers
Cell phone numbers start 07xxx xxxxxx. These are charged at a higher rate than landlines - both to dial from and to call.

Non-Geographical Numbers
These are popular for businesses. The most common non-geographical numbers look like this:
0845 xxx xxxx or 0870 xxx xxxx and are charged at a higher rate.
Look out for 0842, 0843, 0844, 0871, 0872, and 0873 numbers that are also charged at a higher rate, and are regulated as premium rate numbers from 2009.

The latest non-geographical numbers include 0300, 0303, 0306, 0330, 0333, 0345 and 0370 numbers; all written as 03xx xxx xxxx. These are charged at geographic rates and have to be included in call plans.

0500 xxxxxx, 0800 xxxxxx, 0800 xxx xxxx and 0808 xxx xxxx numbers are often referred to as free numbers but the call is only free from a landline, not a mobile.

Premium Rate Numbers
These usually start 09xx xxx xxxx and have some incredibly expensive call rates - over £1 ($2) per minute minimum. They also have long recorded messages which just clocks up the cash for the line owners. Keep clear of these numbers!

What's the number for Int. Directory Enquiries from the UK?

If you like smartphone apps you may well be interested in my review of M8 Your Local Mate.

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