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Life / Telephone / Guide
Guide to using a telephone in the UK
Telephone numbers
  Non-mobile (landline) calls
  Telephone English
Related pages:
Mobile (using a mobile phone in the UK)
  International (cheap international phone calls from the UK)


A guide to a using a telephone in the UK. For information about how to make cheap international phone calls, see: Life/Telephone/International.

Buy products connected with telephones
Pre-pay mobile phone ; Corded landline telephone

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- Emergencies
If there is a serious emergency which requires immediate action, dial 999 (or 112) and ask to be connected to the Fire, Police or Ambulance service (or a special rescue service such as the Coast Guard, Mountain Rescue or Cave Rescue). The call is free. For more details, see: Personal/Advice.

- UK telephone number enquiry services
To look up a UK telephone number free on the internet, see BT's Directory Enquiries service at: or
Dial 118 500 for BT's telephone enquiry service. There is a combination of a connection charge and a charge per minute. Another popular service is 118 118.
If you call 0800 100 100 from a UK landline or mobile phone you can ask for a number for free, but in return you need to listen to a 20-second advertisement. This service is provided by Free Directory Enquiries Ltd.

- Phoning the UK from abroad
Start with the international dialling code from your country (for example: 00).
Next, dial the country code for the UK, which is 44.
Finally, dial the UK number, without the first 0.

- Phoning abroad from the UK
The international telephone code when calling abroad from the UK is 00.
To look up a country code on the internet, see and choose Directory Enquiries and then International
You can also telephone 152 to find out a number in another country. There is no charge for using these services from a public telephone, but there is a charge if you call from a private telephone.

- Operator
If you are having problems making a call, you can contact the UK Operator on 100, or the International Operator on 155.

- London telephone numbers
There have been many changes in telephone numbers in recent years. You may see old numbers on signs or in books, so you should know how to change them. Central London numbers which are currently written (020) 7xxx xxxx (sometimes written incorrectly as (0207) xxx xxxx) were previously written (0171) xxx xxxx, prior to that (071) xxx xxxx, and before that (01) xxx xxxx. Outer London numbers which are currently written (020) 8xxx xxxx were previously written (0181) xxx xxxx, prior to that (081) xxx xxxx, and before that (01) xxx xxxx. If you call a London number from a fixed telephone in London, you do not need to dial (020) at the start of the number.

- Telephone directories
You can look up phone numbers in a local telephone directory or in a directory of local services such as the Yellow Pages or Thomson Local. For more details, see: Prepare/Arrival.

- Calling a taxi
See: Travel/Transport/Taxi.

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For calls within the UK it is usually cheaper if you can call before 08:00 or after 18:00 on weekdays, or anytime at weekends. Phone calls made on national holidays ("bank holidays") are often charged as if they were ordinary days - do not assume that weekend rates will apply.

Phone box
Public telephone

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Essential Telephoning in English
Authors: Barbara Garside, Tony Garside
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Date: August 2002

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Using a mobile phone: Life/Telephone/Mobile
Making international phone calls: Life/Telephone/International

Home page: Home

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