UK Area Codes and Phone Number Information

How to dial the plus symbol

Calling internationally using the + symbol

International phone numbers are often written starting with a plus symbol. How to dial this depends on where you are calling from.

Meaning of the + symbol

The plus (+) symbol is used to represent the outbound, international access code when writing international telephone numbers.

Essentially, the symbol means that the caller needs to insert the code used to begin an outbound international call from the country they are calling from.

This 'international access code' varies around the world and may also be known as an 'international call prefix' or an 'international dial out code'.

How do I dial the plus symbol?

From a landline phone, you don't. Instead, you dial the international access code used by the country you are calling from.

Example using a British number

The number +44 20 7946 0018 is a British phone number shown in full international format. It would be dialled as follows:

From Australia0011 44 20 7946 0018
From Canada011 44 20 7946 0018
From France00 44 20 7946 0018
From Russia8 [pause] 10 44 20 7946 0018

» List of international access codes (Wikipedia)

From mobile phones / cells

Most mobile or celluar phones allow you to store and dial the + symbol directly, instead of having to find out the relevant access code.

If you travel overseas, it is a good idea to store numbers in your phonebook in the full international format beginning with +, as you will then not need to edit them if a country you visit uses a different international access code.

To enter '+' on a mobile usually involves either holding down or multiple presses of the *, 0 or # key, depending on your model of phone.

What about brackets?

Brackets in a phone number usually indicate a part of the number that may be ignored in certain circumstances.

In an international number, you will often see reference to (0). This is usually an indication that the 0 is part of the full national phone number, but is not dialled when calling internationally from overseas.

Example using a British number

Commonly-used format+44 (0)20 7946 0018
Correct international number+44 20 7946 0018
Number dialled within Britain020 7946 0018

It is usually less confusing to write out the national and international numbers in full alongside each other, where space allows. For example:

  Tel.: 020 7946 0018
  International tel.: +44 20 7946 0018

Why not just use numbers?

The symbol + is used because the numbers dialled to start an international call vary from country to country. Most European countries use '00' to start an outbound international call, whereas all of North America uses '011'. Other countries use different codes entirely.

As an example, if a British business displayed its phone number as 0044 20 7946 0018, somebody dialling from Germany would be correctly connected because Germany uses '00' for making international calls. However, somebody dialling from Australia would not get through, as Australia uses 0011 for outbound international calls instead.


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