020 Area Code

London phone numbers

The 020 area code is for London, including all of central London and most parts of the outer boroughs. It is also used in some neighbouring areas just outside the Greater London boundary.

Areas using the 020 area code

The majority of Greater London is covered by the 020 area code:

Map showing coverage of 020 area code

Areas outside London which use 020 numbers include Borehamwood, Bushey, Bushey Heath, Chigwell, Elstree, Ewell, Loughton, Molesey and Thames Ditton.

Parts of some outer boroughs, such as Bromley, Havering and Hillingdon, are outside the 020 area and use other codes including 01322, 01689, 01708 and 01895.

List of areas using 020 area code...

Most 020 numbers are for normal London landlines but be aware that, as is the case for all UK area codes, such numbers may also be used for services without any physical link to the area. (More info)

020 number call costs

020 numbers are normal, landline numbers charged at standard rates.

» Typical landline call charges

Formatting an 020 number

020 numbers should be displayed in the format 020 xxxx xxxx or (020) xxxx xxxx, with the first space always placed between '020' and the eight-digit local number.

For international callers, use: +44 20 xxxx xxxx.

0203 numbers, 0207 numbers and 0208 numbers should all be written as above; formats such as '0207 xxx xxxx' are incorrect. [Why?]

Notes and links

Recent history

London has gone through three area code changes since the introduction of widespread direct dialling in the 1950s.

Between 1990 and 2000, separate area codes were used for Central London and Outer London. This temporary division of London into separate inner and outer areas was abandoned when the new London-wide 020 area code was introduced.

The most recent area code change in the year 2000 resulted in over 79 million numbers from (020) 2000 0000 to (020) 9989 9999 becoming available for use in London – although only local numbers starting with 3, 7 and 8 are currently in general use.

YearEventExample number
1958Start of 'subscriber trunk dialling'; 7-digit numbers and a London-wide area code of 01 become the standard over the next decade.01 222 1234
1990London area splits into two: 071 area code for inner London and 081 code for outer London. This doubles capacity while keeping local numbers at 7 digits long.071 222 1234
1995Area codes change to 0171 and 0181 respectively in line with nationwide changes. No change to local numbers.0171 222 1234
1996Consultation proposes eight-digit local numbers to deal with continuing high demand. Respondents reject separate 020 and 022 area codes for inner and outer London in favour of a single city-wide code.
2000Single London-wide area code of 020 is introduced. Local numbers lengthened to eight digits by prefixing with '7' in old 0171 area or '8' in old 0181 area.020 7222 1234
2005Local numbers beginning with 3 introduced.

Varieties of London phone number

London numbers have been issued in batches and, so far, local numbers starting with 3, 7 and 8 are in use. As of September 2016, almost all numbers starting with 7 have been issued to phone companies, along with 91% of those starting with 8 and 89% of numbers beginning with 3.

Assuming similar levels of demand for London phone numbers continue, it is likely that a new batch of London numbers such as (020) 4 or (020) 5 will need to be released before 2020. Existing numbers will not change.

For historical reasons, there remains a perception that '020 7' numbers are for Central London and '020 8' is for the suburban areas. Similarly, some perceive '020 3' numbers to be dedicated to corporate clients. In reality, there is now no official or technical difference between the different batches of numbers – they can all be issued to either residential or business customers anywhere in London.

London 0200 numbers and 0201 numbers

Unlike normal London numbers, numbers starting 020 0 and 020 1 cannot be dialled locally in London without using the 020 area code and are therefore not supposed to be used for standard home and business telephone lines.

Generally, these numbers are used for services that will never need to be dialled by members of the public, such as machine-to-machine communications or broadband-only and corporate telephone lines that do not receive incoming telephone calls. Using these numbers in such circumstances helps conserve stocks of normal London numbers for more mainstream uses.

Although not intended for normal public use, such numbers may sometimes be presented on caller display or through the 1471 service by mistake.

Links

Map of 020 London area code