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0800 Numbers Explained – Everything You Ever Wanted To Know

We’ve been selling UK 0800 numbers to businesses around the world for a long time. In fact, we were one of the first UK cloud telecom companies to acquire 0800 number ranges from BT back when they were first made…

We’ve been selling UK 0800 numbers to businesses around the world for a long time. In fact, we were one of the first UK cloud telecom companies to acquire 0800 number ranges from BT back when they were first made available.

So over the years we’ve had to answer lots of questions about 0800 numbers from interested customers. The surprising thing is there’s still lots of confusion surrounding the 0800 number prefix. From what should have been a fairly simple premise (allowing UK businesses to offer a free-to-call number so inbound callers won’t be charged) there remains an air of mystery around 0800 numbers in general.

So in an effort to clear up any confusion, we’ve put together a list of answers to the questions our sales advisors get asked most often. There might be some repetition in the question topics, but thought it would be useful to include some variations as there might be differences in how they’re interpreted.

What are 0800 numbers?

0800 numbers are a type of UK non-geographic phone number where the receiver is charged for the call, not the caller.

Before the launch of 0800 numbers, Freephone calls were made by calling the operator and asking for a company by name. On 12 November 1985, BT launched “Linkline”, which included the introduction of 0800 as a new toll-free service which they called “Freefone”.

While 0800 was the dedicated direct dial freephone prefix used by BT, the prefixes 0500, 0321 and 0958 were used by other phone companies in the drive to offer free-to-call phone numbering services in the UK.

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, 0321 and 0958 were used by other phone companies.

The table below charts a brief history of 0800 numbers over the years:

History & Timeline of 0800 NumbersEvent
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 as part of Ofcom's "UK Calling" initiative

How much do 0800 numbers cost?

When you “buy” an 0800 number, really you’re only renting it from the network operator. You don’t own it outright. You’ll pay a monthly rental charge to acquire the right to associate that number with your business, and to redirect incoming calls to a number of your choice.

The monthly rental charge can vary significantly from seller to seller. The problem is, when comparing prices, very rarely are you comparing like for like. For instance, some providers rent out 0800 numbers for a very low monthly fee, but charge a crazy amount for redirecting calls to your landline or mobile number.

Take BT’s 0800 number charges for example. On the face of it you might think the monthly rental charge of £10.00 (exc VAT) is cheap. But when you factor in the cost of redirecting calls to the 0800 number to a landline or mobile, the extra call fees soon stack up. If the call to the 0800 number originates from a mobile, you (as the receiver) will be charged 6.98p per minute. If you get a few hundred calls per month, those charges start getting hefty. Compare that with our basic 0800 number bundle package, where you’ll pay £14.99 (exc VAT) which covers the number rental and 2,000 minutes of calls redirected to any number of your choice. Potentially that will save you around £135.00 per month over BT’s pricing. So when you see a deal that looks too good to be true, it usually has a catch. It always pays to shop around and check the small print first.

Also, the cost of renting an 0800 Number will depend on the rate band of the number in question. Typically, a more memorable number will cost more than a basic number.

0800 numbers have been “free to call” from UK-based mobile and landline phones since 1st July 2015. Before July 2015, calling a UK 0800 number was only free from landline phones. In July 2015, Ofcom launched a new initiative called “UK Calling” which means calls from mobile phones to 0800 numbers are now free on all mobile networks.

The cost will vary, based on a number of factors. Such as:

If you aren’t on an inclusive minutes package, you will get charged for incoming calls. Taking the earlier example of BT’s 0800 number pricing, you’ll pay 4.98p per minute plus a mobile access charge of 2ppm for calls from mobiles.

If you sign up to an inclusive minutes 0800 package (like the ones we offer), our deals start from £14.99 for number rental, plus 2,000 minutes of incoming calls per month. You’ll find that very hard to beat.

How to get an 0800 number for my business?

I think I’ve answered this in some way above. To clarify, you can rent an 0800 number from any number of telco providers. But beware, as some companies are just reselling 3rd party services, so you might not get the level of customer support you might expect.

The best place to buy an 0800 number is from a registered provider, like ourselves, who have their own number ranges. This way you’re more likely to have access to better deals with inclusive minutes, and far more personalised customer support.

How much do 0800 numbers cost from landlines?

Calls to 0800 numbers from UK landlines are free (for the caller). The receiving company will pick up the cost of the redirected call.

How much is an 0800 number from a mobile?

Since 1st July 2015, calls to 0800 numbers from a mobile phone have been free. This applies to all mobile network operators. If you do get charged by your mobile phone company for an 0800 call, you should take it up with them immediately as they should not be charging you.

What are 0800 numbers used for?

Slightly more interesting question. Basically, 0800 numbers are free-to-call, so are a powerful sales & marketing tool used by companies to encourage prospects or customers to contact them. Various studies over the years have shown that “0800 numbers” are recognised as consumer-friendly, therefore more likely to be rung than other non-geographic numbers.

Having an 0800 number also gives businesses an opportunity to market their services outside of their immediate locality. 0800 numbers indicate a national presence so aren’t tied to any region. This is particularly useful for businesses who trade online, as they have the capability to distribute products or services nationally, or even internationally.

How to call an 0800 number from abroad?

It’s misleading to suggest that 0800 numbers can’t be called from outside the UK. The method for calling an 0800 number from abroad is the same as calling any other UK number. Just drop the leading “0” and add either +44 or 0044. For example, to call Numbergroup’s 0800 number from outside the UK, you should dial either “+44800 3101010” or “0044800 3101010” depending on your phone’s call settings.

However, and this is important to note, when calling an 0800 number from abroad (whether it’s from a landline or mobile phone) the call is no longer free. You’ll be charged a pence per minute rate depending on the telecoms provider and your location. You’ll need to contact your mobile or landline operator to get their individual call rates.

How to set up an 0800 number?

Well, this one’s easy. Once you’ve ordered and paid for your 0800 number from your provider, you’ll be set up with a virtual number account. This account will be configured to redirect calls to a phone number of your choice. This means you’ll always have full control over incoming calls and the ability to redirect to different numbers if needed.

Link your 0800 number to the business phone system and you’ll have the option to set up a personalised voicemail message and manage call routing.

How do 0800 numbers work?

As 0800 numbers are non-geographic, they aren’t associated with any specific region. The beauty of an 0800 number is that it costs nothing for someone within the UK to call. For the 0800 number owner, it offers a lot of flexibility as incoming calls can be redirected to any mobile or landline number. This makes them particularly useful for businesses that might not have an actual premises or office location. The non-geographic aspect also means businesses can change location without having to worry about changing their business number.

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