FIRE, POLICE, AMBULANCE, COASTGUARD, MOUNTAIN and CAVE RESCUE (emergency only):  dial 999 or 112

Note that any GSM compatible mobile phone cal dial 112 to connect to the emergency services as a free call provided you have some kind of signal whether or not you have valid network access. 

101 is the Police non-emergency number e.g. for general enquiries (see for more information). All calls to this number, whether from landline or mobile, are charged at 15p irrespective of duration or time of day.

00 is the International Access Code to dial out from within the UK, the Republic of Ireland and all other EU countries.

44 is the Country Code for the UK.

353 is the Country Code for the Republic of Ireland.

100 is the number for the Operator, 155 for International Operator.


Landline numbers

The first part of a UK telephone number, which is specific to one geographic area, may be referred to as the 'dialling code' or 'area code'.  The code is three to six digits long and always starts with ' 01' or ' 02', for example 020 is the code for London, 0118 is for Reading, 01332 is Derby, and 017687 is Keswick.

If you are making a call to a number with the same dialling code as the one you are calling from, you do not need to dial the code, only the customer number (between 4 and 8 figures long).

When calling from a mobile telephone, you must always dial the full number, including any geographic code.


Mobile numbers

Numbers for mobile telephones are 11 figures long and start with the digits ' 07', however those starting '070' are 'personal numbers' which forward to another number and can be charged at a premium rate to pay for the diversion costs.

Other non-geographic numbers

Numbers starting ' 03' are not fixed to a location, but are charged at the same rate as calling a geographic number and count towards inclusive allowances on landlines and mobiles. They are used by businesses, charities and government departments.

Numbers starting ' 0800', ' 0808' and ' 0500' are freephone numbers; there is no charge to call these numbers from a landline or payphone, however hotels and mobile telephone networks are likely to charge. These calls will become free from all mobile phones by 26 June 2015.

Other numbers starting ' 084' or ' 087'  (such as '0845' and '0870') are usually charged at a higher rate than calling a geographic number (up to 15p per minute from a landline and up to 41p/min from mobiles with part of the call cost being passed on to whoever you are calling).

Premium rate numbers start ' 09' and can cost up to £1.50 per minute to call from a landline and more from a mobile phone.

From 1 July 2015, call charges to many UK numbers starting 084, 087, 09 and 118 calls (non-geographic, 'premium' and directory enquiry services) will change into separate 'access' and 'service' charges. The 'access' charge is set by your telephone provider (eg BT or TalkTalk for landlines, Vodaphone or Three for mobile) and will be stated in their tariff. The 'service' charge is set by the recipient number provider and should be advertised next to the number. 

It may take some time for websites and advertisements to be updated with these changes. Some calls will increase significantly in price. Be cautious using calling cards, call-through services and similar, or when calling from a hotel, and make sure you are aware of the current charges you will pay. 

Six figure numbers which begin with ' 118' are Directory Enquiry services and are special rate numbers usually costing over £1 per call, however the cheapest is available by calling 118226 (33p per call from a landline). There is also a free automated service available from the following freephone number, 0800 118 3733, and the telephone directory is available online:


Call charges

There is normally no difference between the cost of making a local or long distance call within the UK.

Calls to mobile telephones are at a higher rate, however there is no charge to receive calls on a mobile phone.

Phoning from a hotel room can be expensive, as local calls are rarely free and they can charge many times more than the standard rate. It is advisable to check the rate before making the call; it might work out cheaper to use a payphone or mobile.

Public telephone boxes charge 60p for a 30 minute call to an 01, 02 or 03 number when paid in coins. Calls to other numbers are charged at a higher rate (e.g. over £1 for a one minute call to a mobile 'phone). The minimum charge is always 60p, however calls to freephone numbers and the emergency services are not charged. Calls make using debit or credit cards are charged at a higher rate.

Private payphones are also found in youth hostels or some private other establishments, the minimum charge may be 20p, however the call charges per minute are set by the owner, and may be more expensive for calls longer than a few minutes.


Mobile telephones

Currently there are 4 main Mobile Networks Operators in the UK (Everything Everywhere (Usually abbreviated as EE), O2, Vodafone and Three). Other advertised mobile companies are 'virtual networks' which use one of the 4 main networks.

If you're planning to spend a while in the UK, it may be worth getting a local 'pay as you go' SIM card. The UK's mobile industry is fiercely competitive and SIM cards are often given away or sold cheaply at shops and supermarkets; and there may be special offers available on some tariffs (e.g. free bonus minutes when you add credit). Try not to be tempted to get one of these at the airport when you arrive, as they are priced as high as £10, whereas in most other places they are available for less than £2. Many networks will post a SIM card free to a UK address, so one option might be to order a SIM for delivery to your accomodation address about a week before you are due to arrive - check with your hotel or host where to get to sent to and how to mark it for your attention.

There are also specialist virtual mobile networks such as Lebara and Lycamobile which offer very low international call rates (e.g. 6 pence per minute to the USA and Canada).

Be aware that American, Canadian, and Latin American visitors may need to check with their phone's manufacturer or provider that their handset will work in the UK. The phone will need to be able to work on the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz GSM bands and, to use a local SIM, it will also need to be unlocked. The 'Three' network (and virtual networks that resell 'three') only works on mobile handsets which are '3G' enabled on 2100 MHz; others will work on '2G' handsets also.

Mobile phones are now so cheap to buy (£20 or less for a basic model) that renting one is likely to be uneconomic.

If you have a smartphone or laptop with Wifi, then you might use this to make free calls via a web provider such as Skype or Localphone, however this depends on a wireless connection available (many hotels and coffeeshops have free Wifi).


  Prefix*   Call Pricing Exceptions
Geographic Rate or, more usually, included in call plan allowance 01481 - Guernsey
01534 - Jersey
01624 - Isle of Man
070 Personal numbering (call forwarding) charged at a Premium Rate  
071 075
077 079
Mobile Rate or, more usually, included in call plan allowance Various non-mobile
07xxx prefixes
080 Free Call from landlines, and also mobiles since June 2015 (also 0500)  
Call price consists of an
Access Charge retained by the caller's telephone provider and a
Service Charge passed on to the called party's telephone provider.
087 and 09 numbers are charged at a Premium Rate

  * All numbers beginning 0500 are moving to new 080xx numbers by mid-2017.

     From 26 June 2015 calls to 080 numbers will be free from all mobile phones.

     Numbers beginning 055, 056 and 076 should be avoided as they are often very expensive.


  Phone cards are also available, however they may offer cheap rates, but have hidden surcharges associated with them (e.g. daily fees or connection fees). The Post Office phonecard is recommended as being good value and without hidden charges, however if you make a call with any phonecard from a public payphone, there is an additional per minute charge to support the public payphone network, except if calling from a private payphone (such as those in youth hostels or hotel reception areas).


Emergency calls

The UK's emergency numbers is 999 for fire, police, ambulance, coastguard and mountain rescue.  The operator will ask you what service you need then put you through. You can also use the European number 112. Calls to both of these numbers are completely free.

For non-emergencies, the number to reach the local police force is 101 in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Calls to 101 cost 15p per call from a landline or mobile phone, or free from a public payphone.

For medical non-emergencies, 111 is the number in England and Scotland. These calls are free from landlines and mobiles. In Wales call 0845 46 47. This call will usually be chargeable.


International dialling

To dial to another country from the UK , first dial 00, then the country code, area code (usually excluding initial '0') followed by the customer's number.  Ofcom has a list of country codes in the file at internationalcodes.pdf.

For example, to call Seattle airport - (206) 787 3000 - from the UK, dial 00 1 206 787 3000.


When calling from abroad to the UK , you first dial your international access code.  This varies depending which country you are in.  For example, it's 011 in Canada, 0011 in Australia, 00 in most of Europe, and 001 in Singapore.  Next, dial the country code for the UK , 44 , followed by the area code (excluding initial '0') and local phone number.

For example, to call the Lake District tourist information office - (01539) 822222 - from the USA or Canada, dial 011 44 1539 822222.

To Call A Number From A Place With No Service Download A WIFI Calling App And Do It Through That. 

Ofcom Regulation Changes - charges for calling NGNs

From 1st July 2015, calls to 084, 087, 09, and 118 numbers will be split in to two charges:

Access Charge – this is set by the consumer’s telephone provider
Service Charge – this is set by the company offering the NGN that the consumer dials.

This new charging system will apply to outbound calls from residential landlines and consumer owned mobile phones. Charges for calls made from business telephones to NGN’s will be set by your phone operator and may not be affected by these changes.

To see a list of phone operators access charges, click here