Talk:National conventions for writing telephone numbers

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New page[edit]

I've created this page because there doesn't appear to be any reference for how to format numbers correctly for a country.

The other "Telephone numbers in X" pages on wikipedia don't explicitly document how they are written, so a page listing everything briefly and accurately seems useful. The emphasis is different to documenting the structure of the telephone systems, which write the numbers in what appears to be a global standard of spaces separating groups.

It's difficult to find this information on the web. I hope that residents of countries will document their local conventions on this page.

I am a little uncertain about the NANP conventions. Official documents seem to use the 1-AAA-BBB-BBBB form, but many phone numbers written use spaces not hyphens. I think it best to match the NANP docs, as it won't look out of place to a resident, and is likely to be more correct. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Benxnine (talkcontribs) 08:28, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

UK erroneous form[edit]

It's quite common in the UK to see attempts at writing a hybrid international/national form as +44 (0) AAAA BBBBBB. Whilst this is wrong, it's probably common enough that it should be mentioned, particularly to help non-Brits to interpret these. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:51, 17 October 2009 (UTC)

DONE ( (talk) 10:20, 18 October 2009 (UTC))
See also, article: It is not +44 (0)207 123 4567, it is +44 20 7123 4567 (2009-11-08 21:45 (UTC))
and this article: (0) in phone numbers - (talk) 20:43, 8 February 2013 (UTC)

I have removed the assertion that this representation is wrong; as a British person I have very rarely encountered phone numbers including the international code expressed in any other way, and "wrong" in this context at best means "unconventional", which this representation certainly is not - a statement that the most common representation is unconventional should at the very least be cited. (talk) 10:39, 18 March 2014 (UTC) I've modified my previous edit to include the statement from the article above that this representation is inconsistent with the international standard. (talk) 11:22, 18 March 2014 (UTC)


I think that 0AAAA/BBB is in Germany popular. I know many people who use it --Nandus (talk) 16:38, 6 January 2010 (UTC)

Jesus Murphy!![edit]

Hidden - this talk page is not a forum.
The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.

Can this be serious? Is there no defined format for seven, ten and eleven digit dialing?? The ITU and the NANPA have nothing on this? Either dashes can be used or they cannot. Either brackets can be used around area codes or they cannot!

Can anyone imagine the public internet functioning with such vague rules? Ie:

  1. telnet

(or maybe)

  1. telnet (142).31.204.46

(or maybe)

  1. telnet 142-31.204-46

(or maybe)

  1. telnet 142/31/204/46 (get the picture?)

Give me a flippin' break!! Even on the NANPA and ITU and other 'technical' sites do not seem to use the same formats consistently! It doesn't matter whether we are talking packet-switched or circuit switched technology, there is a RIGHT way to encode data and a WRONG way! There is no third, other way! Oh, and just imagine trying to work with IPv6 if we had this kind of slack-ass attitude! Do you want to get me the straight jacket now please? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:06, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

There is a format defined in E.123 but not everyone uses it. Parentheses are used when the area code is optional. It shows local dialling is possible without the area code. ( (talk) 00:28, 20 February 2010 (UTC))
It does seem that in North America, there should be standardized format of writing numbers, however, when different state regulators have messed up the original uniform dialing plan (some states require 1+10 digits even if it's a free local call), it's inevitable that different writing formats will emerge.
Phone books seem to be standard, though, in showing NXX-XXXX for customers, with NXX-NXX-XXXX for overlay areas (though I live in an overlay area and for the second year in a row, they don't show the area code yet).
I suggest that if the FCC and CRTC ever get the guts to do so, they should mandate NXX-NXX-XXXX in overlay areas, NXX-XXXX in non-overlay areas that are not adjacent to an overlay area. Customers should be encouraged to always give their numbers as NXX-NXX-XXXX where 10-digit dialing is mandatory for local calling, and as (NXX) NXX-XXXX where it is not required, implying the digits in parentheses are only required for long distance or when calling from a different area code. In addition, all North American customers should be acquainted with the international convention for inclusion on their business cards/letterhead and communications to points abroad: +1 NXX.NXX.XXXX or +1 NXX-NXX-XXXX, showing that 1 is the country calling code and all remaining digits are also required with no additional digits and no deletions. GBC (talk) 15:54, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

Minor alteration to headline under UK entry[edit]

A small ammendment was made today to the former subheading in the UK entry in order to avoid accusation of 'Londoncentricity' - the misquoting of area codes is much worse in Bristol and some fo the '011x" areas than it is on the '020' area, so I have remodelled the headline to suit a UK-wide picture. Please feel free to ameliorate if you can find a better wording. Mapmark (talk) 21:53, 25 June 2010 (UTC)

Business extensions?[edit]

In North America at least, it's fairly common for a business to use an extension number for reaching a specific employee. (e.g. dialing a business and hearing the automated message, "If you know the extension of the person you wish to dial, please enter it now, or dial 0 to speak to an operator.") Is there a standard way to render telephone numbers which include an internal extension number? I have seen many variations, for example: 416-555-1234 extension 123, or 416-555-1234 ext 123, or 416-555-1234x123... etc. -- Mecandes (talk) 04:13, 12 July 2010 (UTC)

Leading 1 in North American numbers[edit]

The article states

The format AAA-BBB-BBBB or sometimes 1-AAA-BBB-BBBB is often seen; the number 1 is the long-distance access code, and is usually required before the area code when calling long distance. While this appears to be a dialling pattern, it is actually part of the directory number, because the country code for the NANP is 1.

While it's true that the country code for NANP countries is 1, the Dial-1 access for long distance dialing dates from decades before international direct distance dialing was available. I believe this is a dialing pattern which by coincidence is the same as the country code. (I concede this may well be an engineered coincidence, especially if it were the Americans who initially divvied up the codes.)

I cannot dial 011-1-212-555-1212 (from the US) and expect it to connect. Further, if I dial 44-20-7777-8888 I'll ring up local number 442-2077 (if I'm allowed 7D dialing) or +1 442 207 7778 (if I'm allowed 10D dialing). My conclusion is that I'm not dialing a country code when I dial 1-212-555-1212.

Can anyone produce a reference straightening this out? Co149 (talk) 17:17, 4 August 2010 (UTC)

I don't have a reference, but you are correct that the 1 that precedes an area code in intra-NANP dialing is not intrinsically the same as the country code 1. It may have been contrived that way, though. Doug Ewell 20:49, 18 January 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by DougEwell (talkcontribs)

USA format - minor consideration[edit]

I do not know how much of the following you may consider using, but I am posting it here to allow those that make the decisions to decide how to use or not use the information presented.

The USA format is divided into four groups. Long Distance Code = 1 (country code if calling from outside the USA) Area Code = AAA Prefix (also known as the exchange) = BBB (all twisted pair numbers with the same exchange are served from the same land line telephone office) Number = CCCC 1AAABBBCCCC would be the number as you would dial it. Variations in telephone service may require the exclusion of groups of digits.

To improve human readability, the following formats are commonly used: 1 AAA BBB CCCC (usually on the internet, but seen in print and is easy to enter) 1-AAA-BBB-CCCC (most popular and used in most phone books and advertisements) 1(AAA)BBB-CCCC (archaic and becoming less popular) 1AAABBBCCCC (usual format for computer database storage and becoming more popular especially on the internet for searchable phone numbers)

There are many other variations, but I believe these to be the most popular in common use. I have seen mixes of spaces, commas, hyphens, slashes, etc being used, but once all the extraneous characters are stripped away, you get back to the 1AAABBBCCCC format. Try entering your telephone number in that format in your favorite search engine and see what comes up, then try using your favorite format. (talk) 13:39, 7 November 2010 (UTC)

Letters in telephone numbers[edit]

Something should be added (perhaps it's elsewhere, in which case it needs a link) about the practice seemingly common in the USA of businesses choosing numbers which can be remembered by the letters on alphanumeric telephone keypads (e.g. "call 1-800-YUM-PIZZA for pizza delivery!"). When did this arise? Is it used anywhere else? Anything more to say about it? In the UK, where I am, you very rarely hear something similar, and when I have noticed attempts to introduce it the business in question has generally spelt out the real number for those who are utterly confused. For example there is a commercial service for reverse charge calls whose number is 0800 REVERSE, but I remember their TV ads also saying 0800 7383773. Beorhtwulf (talk) 21:01, 27 February 2011 (UTC)

- Beorhtwulf makes a good point, I agree with this ideaMapmark (talk) 10:26, 28 February 2011 (UTC)

Dotted separators origin[edit]

Who started the stupid dotted convention of writing telephone numbers? I'd really like to know. Dread Lord CyberSkull ✎☠ 13:25, 14 November 2011 (UTC)


The entire continent of Africa appears to be missing! I came here looking specifically for formats for various African countries. --Coconino (talk) 16:22, 26 June 2012 (UTC)

You'll probably have to add it. My country (Ukraine) is missing too. -- (talk) 18:53, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
Individual country information can still be found through the details in the telephone numbers by country category. -- (talk) 17:07, 23 January 2013 (UTC)

(0) in US and Canada[edit]

Can anyone explain when the zero is dialled in these US and Canadian numbers?

e.g. +1 (0) 888 555-7777, see: search result 1 and search result 2.

Is this a local format for particular states? -- (talk) 17:15, 26 January 2013 (UTC)

Looking at the search-result links you provided, it would appear that the (0) is superfluous. The examples on those pages all appear to be of the form +1 (0)NPA NXX-XXXX. I don't know why someone would write this form. You shouldn't be dialing that 0 either within the North American country, nor should you dial it when calling from other countries. I can only assume it's a mistake, borrowed from other countries where a zero-prefix for the NPA is significant. Shamino (talk) 13:12, 25 September 2015 (UTC)

Zero as a prefix in NANP numbers is used only for operator assistance - for example, if I needed to call a spouse or a parent in an emergency, from a payphone, and had no way to pay for the call, I would prefix the 10-digit number NPA-NXX-XXXX with 0, the operator would pick up, and I would indicate that I wanted to reverse the charges. There is no other use for a 0 prefix in NANP numbers, and NANP numbers should not be written with a 0 prefix. (talk) 00:08, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

Why is ISO8601 referenced in the Germany part ?[edit]

"The most prominent is DIN 5008 (ISO 8601) but the international format E.123 and Microsoft's canonical address format are also very common."

ISO8601 is "Data elements and interchange formats – Information interchange – Representation of dates and times" — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:31, 12 June 2014 (UTC)

Middle Eastern countries[edit]

I don't see any Middle Eastern countries. I don't have this information to add it myself. I already saw the "Africa" talk topic above and checked out the categories link, but there are none there too. Could anyone add this? -- ADTC Talk Ctrb 08:37, 29 July 2014 (UTC)

"Incorrect presentation of UK area codes and numbers" needs work (or to be removed)[edit]

"2.16.1 Incorrect presentation of UK area codes and numbers" first off, why is this here? There is a full article on UK Telephone Numbers here and here. Having that subsection is inconsistent with the rest of the page.

Secondly, it is really poorly written and makes no sense e.g. "A common error is treating London numbers as if there exist multiple area codes (e.g. '0207', '0208' and '0203'." What does that mean? Even ignoring the missing word and missing parenthesis, it is badly written.

The entire section is complete gibberish and should be considered for removal. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:43, 26 September 2016 (UTC)

Ireland - Edited as previous version was largely inaccurate[edit]

I basically rewrote the Irish section as the information was largely inaccurate.

1. Ireland's numbering plan is not based on the UK system and does not share the same origins at all. The UK system originated as letter codes which were used as mnemonics for town names, with 'director areas' (large cities) having single letter codes followed by 1. In contrast, the Irish system developed as regional codes which are further subdivided into smaller regions.

01 - Dublin and some surrounding areas (this is not subdivided at all), 02 - Cork City and County Cork, 04 Eastern Region, 05 Southeastern Region, 06 - Southwestern Region, 07 Northwestern Region and 09 Western Region.

Major cities / towns typically took "1" as their sub region. So, Cork City for example is 021 while the town of Bantry is 027 etc.

This system originally developed in the 1950s and onwards as a way of including the routing logic in the telephone numbers in the days of crossbar and step-by-step switching.

It meant that routing could be done quite simply using levels within a trunk or tandem switch, rather than necessitating complicated programming of routes in registers. Similar setups were used in other northern European countries. The automatic trunk network was built from the 1950s onwards around Ericsson crossbar switching technology. Trunk and tandem switches used Ericsson ARM crossbars, with local switching being ARF 101 and ARK in remote locations or, in some cases, older Strowger step-by-step technology was used at local exchanges. By the 1970s, ARM was upgraded to ARE (a crossbar with computerised registers) and even some AKE (relay based) systems were used for gateway exchanges.

From 1980 onwards, Ireland's network transitioned to fully digital switching using Ericsson AXE 10 and Alcatel E10 switching. The addition of more advanced IN (intelligent network) and number translation facilities in the 1990s allowed for much more flexible numbering, but the legacy of the rigid area code hierarchies still forms the basis of the Irish numbering system.

2. 7-digit local numbering is used in all areas that have been renumbered in recent years. It includes quite low population areas in the Northwest. ComReg seems to have a preference for a 0AA BBB BBBB format but is only changing numbering where necessary, avoiding disruption.

3. The term "STD" was used historically, but is generally a distant memory and may not be understood. "Area code" is normally used in day-to-day speech and in the industry NDC (National Dialling Code) is the official terminology used.

4. As long as you keep the Area Code (NDC) and local number separate, with a space or brackets, the local number is usually just grouped in whatever way is easiest to remember. The standard format is BBB BBBB, BBB BBB or BBBBB

5. Area codes do not get longer in rural areas. There are some examples of area codes that follow an 0A0A BBBBB format, these are simply done where they needed more than 9 subdivisions of a regional code.

6. Historically, the system tried to keep numbers as short as practicable. So, in rural areas 5-digit local numbering was and still is quite common. In recent years, there has been a move towards 7-digits as the preferred format, regardless of population size.

7. Irish mobile numbers follow the 0AA BBB BBBB format but local dialling is not supported by the mobile networks and all 10 digits must be dialled in all circumstances.

8. Irish special rate numbers typically follow the format 1AAA BB BB BB e.g. 1800 11 11 11 but can be grouped any way that is memorable and can also contain letters if the end user wants to use alphanumeric dialling for advertising. This is not as commonly done as in the USA but, it is supported.

You can find everything about Irish numbering on ComReg's website

22:27, 1 March 2017 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)