0500 Numbers

Former freephone numbers

0500 numbers were a type of freephone number. They were decomissioned during 2017.

Withdrawal of 0500 numbers

By the late 1990s, a variety of different prefixes were in use for freephone services. In addition to the well-recognised 0800 numbers, there were also freephone numbers starting 0321, 0500 and 0958 among others.

To ease confusion and make it easier for callers to recognise freephone services, it was decided that 0800 and 0808 numbers would be used for all future freephone numbering and that the other prefixes would be gradually withdrawn.

The relatively rare 0321 and 0958 prefixes had been taken out of service by the end of April 2001. The 0500 prefix was more widespread and accordingly it was decided that the many existing 0500 numbers could remain in use for a longer period.

With no new 0500 numbers being issued, usage of the prefix declined. Many organisations using 0500 numbers moved to other numbers, while other 0500 numbers were withdrawn if their owners shut down a service or had other reasons for no longer needing their 0500 numbers.

By 2014, usage was low enough that the regulator Ofcom began consulting on a final withdrawal of such numbers. It was eventually decided that they would be decommissioned during June 2017.

Replacements for 0500 numbers

Organisations who used 0500 numbers for receiving calls were offered 'matching' modern freephone numbers that start with 0808 5. For example, the owner of 0500 303030 would have been able to switch to the number 0808 5303030.

Adopting a new 0808 number was not compulsory – the only requirement was that 0500 numbers were removed from use. Many organisations replaced their 0500 numbers with completely different numbers of their choosing.

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