UK Area Codes and Phone Number Information

020 Area Code

London phone numbers

020 numbers are for London, including all of central London and the majority of the outer London boroughs.

The boundary of the 020 area code does not follow the Greater London boundary. Several areas outside Greater London use 020 numbers while the outer parts of some London boroughs use their own area codes instead of 020 numbers.

List of areas using 020 area code...

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)

Types of London phone number

All 020 numbers are normal, London phone numbers and calls to 020 numbers are charged at standard landline rates.

For historical reasons, there remain misconceptions that '0207 numbers' are for Central London or that '0203 numbers' are dedicated to business users. In reality, there is now no official or technical difference between the different batches of numbers – they can all be issued for any purpose, anywhere in London.

Since the introduction of the 020 area code in April 2000, London numbers have been issued in distinct batches as follows:

NumbersIssued since
(020) 7xxx xxxxApril 2000
(020) 8xxx xxxxApril 2000
(020) 3xxx xxxxJune 2005

As of June 2019, almost all numbers starting (020) 3 and (020) 7 have been issued to phone companies. Most requests for new numbers are currently being met using numbers starting (020) 8.

Assuming similar levels of demand for phone numbers continue, it is likely that new batches starting 0204, 0205 and 0206 will begin to come into use from the early 2020s onwards.

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.

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?]

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.
1999020 numbers start to run alongside old numbers from June. Either version can be used when dialling a number in full, but dialling locally using seven digits is unchanged.
2000Final changeover to single London-wide 020 area code takes place in April. 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.

Links

020 area code
 

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