What is the calling code for the United Kingdom? Making your phone call

TransferWise
18.07.18
4 minute read

If you’re looking to get in touch with someone in the UK, often your phone is the quickest way to do it. But you want to make sure you’re not calling the incorrect number. Here’s a primer of the things you’ll need to understand before calling the UK.

How do I call the UK?

To call the UK from a different country, you’ll use the international country code. Each country has its own; it’s between 1-3 digits. Phone numbers in the UK are managed by the UK Office of Communication, or ‘Ofcom.’ Ofcom has established the National Telephone Numbering Plan for all of the countries that make up the United Kingdom as well as a few British Crown dependencies: Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man.

All phone numbers are either 9 or 10 digits long, with a 3, 4, or sometimes 5-digit area code (or ‘Subscriber Trunk Dialing’ or STD) preceding the local phone number.

To dial the UK, you’ll use the international country code:

  • +44

Are there other codes in the UK I need to be aware of?

There are a few other codes to be aware of when calling internationally to or from within the UK:

  • 0 is the trunk code and is to be used as a prefix if calling from within the UK to another region in the country
  • 00 is a dial-out code used to reach different countries outside of the UK
  • 05 is used for corporate numbering and VoIP calls
  • 07 is used to call a mobile phone
  • 09 is reserved for premium rate calls

Most common dialing codes in the UK

It’s very common for most regions and large cities to have multiple area codes within their districts. Below are some of the more commonly used area codes for major cities and regions:

AreaLocal Area Code in the UK
London020
Northern Ireland028
Southampton / Portsmouth023
Coventry024
Cardiff029
Glasgow0141
Liverpool0151
Manchester0161
Leeds0113
Oxford01865
Cambridge01223

An example of a UK phone number

If you’re calling from inside of the UK to another UK number, the setup is as follows:

(area code, begins with 0) – (local phone number) or 0X – XXXX - XXXX

The process to call abroad is slightly different. For example if you’re calling the US Embassy in London, the number is (0) 20, 7499 9000. To call that embassy from the US, you would dial:

  • 011 - the exit code to dial outside the States
  • 44 - the UK country code
  • 20 - the local London area code, dropping the first ‘0’ prefix as you’re calling from abroad
  • 7499-9000 - the rest of the embassy’s number

So if you see +44020749990000, you’d dial 011-44-20-7499-9000.

Why did my call to the UK not work?

If your call fails, it could be for a number of reasons. Some UK phone plans will charge both the caller and the person you’re calling, so they may not accept your call. Other common reasons for call failure include:

  • You are using an incorrect international dialing prefix for your location
  • You’ve forgotten to drop the trunk code (that first ‘0’ that’s listed in local numbers)
  • You’re using a VoIP or internet phone provider that lets you pose as if you’re making a local call, and can therefore follow local dialing practices
  • The person you’re calling does not have a phone plan that accepts international calls

If you’re still having difficulty, try an internet-enabled call through an app like Whatsapp, Viber, or Skype. Most everyone in the UK will have access to wifi or internet, so you may have better luck there.

Do phone numbers in the UK usually have voicemail boxes?

The UK is like most other Western countries in that there are usually voicemail capabilities attached to any phone. Phone owners have the capacity to personalise their voicemail boxes using their own voices.

What does the ringing tone sound like when you call the UK?

The UK dial tone is a standard-sounding dial tone that you would hear in many other places. The ring-tone is a double ring that’s standardised across mobile and land lines.

Some other common tones you might hear are:

  • A busy or off-hook signal - signifying the phone you’re calling is engaged or disconnected
  • A holding signal - signifying you’re on hold
  • An unobtainable tone - signifying the person you’re trying to reach is unavailable

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Don’t let the nuances of international communications and logistics stop you from reaching out to your friends, family, and contacts in the UK. Hopefully this guide can serve as your go-to for how to dial anyone in the UK.

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