0800 and 0808 Numbers

Freephone numbers

What are 0800 numbers and 0808 numbers?

Numbers starting with 0800 or 0808 are freephone numbers and cost nothing to call in the UK.

Freephone numbers allow callers to ring an organisation at no charge, with the cost of the call paid for by the organisation receiving the call. Common uses for them include:

  • Sales and customer service lines
  • Charity and government helplines
  • Access to prepaid calling cards

0800 and 0808 number call costs

Numbers starting 0800 and 0808 are free to call from all landlines and mobile phones in the UK

Prior to 1st July 2015, most mobile networks charged for calls to 0800 numbers and 0808 numbers. This is no longer the case, as new regulations introduced by telecoms regulator Ofcom have made all calls to such numbers free from mobiles.

Calling freephone numbers from payphones

Some freephone numbers may not be accessible from BT payphones.

Organisations have to pay a significant surcharge when they accept incoming calls to their 0800 and 0808 numbers from payphones. As a result, some choose to block such calls instead of paying the surcharge.

Further information

All numbers starting 080 are free to call and have the same technical features. This includes 08000 numbers, 08008 numbers, 08080 numbers, 08081 numbers, 08085 numbers and all other numbers that start with the digits 0800 or 0808, regardless of how the number is displayed or what the following digits are.

Freephone calls were originally made by calling the operator and asking for a company by name. However, by the end of the 1980s, dedicated direct dial freephone prefixes had come into use: 0800 was used by BT, while the prefixes 0500 and 0321 were amongst those used by other phone companies.

Numbers starting 0808 80 are reserved exclusively for charity helplines and advice lines. These numbers are overseen by the Helplines Partnership.

The are also international freephone numbers which start 00800 or +800.

Recent history of 0800 numbers and 0808 numbers

19820500 prefix allocated for Mercury Communications freephone services
19850800 numbers introduced for British Telecom freephone services
19940800 numbers made available to phone companies other than BT
19970808 prefix introduced to provide extra freephone capacity
19990808 9xx xxxx numbers assigned for dial-up internet use
2000Old 0321 xxxxxx numbers move to 0808 0xx xxxx
20150800 and 0808 numbers become universally free to call from mobiles and landlines
2017Old 0500 xxxxxx numbers move to 0808 5xx xxxx
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