Calling abroad can be complex, especially when you’re trying to call somewhere far away with lots of remote regions. If you’re looking to place a call to Nigeria from abroad, here are some best practices you can follow to reach your contacts, friends, and family there.
Each country has a unique calling code that’s between 1-3 digits. You’ll dial it whenever you’re calling that country to signal that you’re dialing internationally. Phone numbers in Nigeria are managed by the Nigerian Communication Commission, which is in charge of regulating the supply of telecommunication services and facilities in the country.
If you’re trying to dial into Nigeria, the international country code is:
There are tens of different areas codes within the country of Nigeria. The length of a phone number in Nigeria can vary even within area codes. All area codes are either 1 or 2 digits long and should precede the local phone numbers, which are between 5 and 7 digits long.
In addition to local phone area codes, Nigeria implemented mobile number portability in 2013 for all cell phones. Due to this change, all cell phones in Nigeria begin with a three-digit prefix of 070, 080, 081 or 090. When placing a call to another country while in Nigeria, the international dialing prefix code is 009.
Below are some of the more commonly used area codes for major cities and regions in Nigeria:
|Area||Local Area Code in Nigeria|
As mentioned before, Nigerian phone numbers consist of 5 to 7 digits with 1 or 2-digit area codes before the phone number. For example, to call the US Embassy in Central Abuja, Nigeria, the number is 234-09-461-4000.
To call that embassy from the US, you’d dial:
- 011 - the exit code used to dial out of the US
- 234 - the Nigeria country code
- 09 - Abuja’s city code, where the embassy is located, but you can drop the “0” when used in the context of an international dial
- 461-4000 - the local US Embassy number
So if you see +23494614000, you’d dial 011-234-9-461-4000 on your phone. If you’re calling from within Nigeria to another Nigeria area code, you’d dial just use the area code and local phone number, so in this case, you’d just dial 09-461-4000.
Nigeria is a large country with a diverse landscape. At certain points, there may not be a large cellular infrastructure to handle international calling capabilities. If your call doesn’t go through, you can look to the following reason as likely reasons:
- The mobile phone you’re calling is out of service or can’t get signal
- You have an incorrect exit code or forgot to dial it before entering the phone number
- You’ve forgotten or gotten an incorrect area code
- You’re using a VoIP or internet phone provider that expects you to drop the prefix
If you’re still having trouble, you might have better luck using an internet-enabled option like Skype, Whatsapp, or Viber. More traditional landlines will also have a higher chance of being reliable than mobile options.
If the person you’re calling in Nigeria isn’t available, the phone might divert to voicemail to take a message. Although, you shouldn’t expect that the person you’re calling will automatically have a voicemail. Some Nigerians are resistant to it or may not be in the practice of using voicemail.
Personalised ring tones are quite popular in Nigeria. Nigeria’s music industry has popularised the use of ‘ringback tones’, which are songs that begin to play once a caller dials a number. When the person they’re calling answers, the music stops and the conversation can begin. So don’t be surprised if in place of a normal dial tone, you’re treated to a song when making a call to Nigeria.
Some other common tones you might hear are:
- A dial tone - signifying the phone line is available
- A ringing tone - signifying the phone is ringing
- A busy tone - signifying the phone you’re calling is engaged
- A holding tone - signifying you’re on hold
- An unobtainable tone - signifying the person you’re trying to reach is unavailable
If you’re not just calling Nigeria but actually planning to visit in-person, make sure you’re being wise about how you spend your cash. Using TransferWise, you can get the same exchange rates that banks use when trading with each other. You won’t see unfair markups, hidden fees, or surprise surcharges.
International communications can be challenging, whether you’re trying to transfer money, deal with logistics, or make telephone calls to and from two different countries. Refer back to this guide for pointers on making phone calls to Nigeria.