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0800 Numbers Explained – Everything You Need To Know

We’ve been selling UK 0800 numbers to businesses worldwide for a long time. We were one of the first UK cloud telecom companies to acquire 0800 number ranges from Ofcom when they were first made available. So over the years,…

We’ve been selling UK 0800 numbers to businesses worldwide for a long time. We were one of the first UK cloud telecom companies to acquire 0800 number ranges from Ofcom when they were first made available.

So over the years, we’ve had to answer lots of questions about 0800 numbers from interested customers. Surprisingly, there’s still a lot of confusion surrounding the 0800 number prefix. From what should have been a reasonably 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.

So to clear up any confusion, we’ve put together a list of answers we are often asked for. There might be some repetition in the question topics, but I thought it would be helpful to include some variations as there might be differences in how they’re interpreted.

What are 0800 numbers?

0800 numbers are UK non-geographic phone numbers 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 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, 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 (ex 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. Those charges start getting hefty if you get a few hundred monthly calls. Compare that with our basic 0800 number bundle package, where you’ll pay £14.99 (ex VAT), which covers the number rental and 2,000 minutes of calls redirected to any number you choose. 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 1 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 many factors. Such as:

You will get charged for incoming calls if you aren’t on an inclusive minutes package. 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 for an inclusive minutes 0800 package (like the ones we offer), our deals start from £8 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?

0800 numbers are issued by the government regulator Ofcom to licensed and regulated telecom network providers like ourselves. In the UK, around 20 providers are listed on Google selling or renting 0800 Numbers. Most of these companies are unregulated middlemen or resellers—they have high-ranking websites because they use SEO tactics to make their sites appear first in search results.

This is a major red flag: These resellers have no control or ownership over the 0800 numbers they are supplying.

The phone numbers supplied by these middlemen can be withdrawn or suspended due to contractual disputes between the chain of companies involved in their supply at any time; buyer beware.

To check who actually owns a telephone number, carry out a code look-up using this handy website.

How much do 0800 numbers cost to call 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 to call from a mobile?

Since 1 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.

Why should I get an 0800 number?

Slightly more interesting question. 0800 numbers are free-to-call, so they are a powerful sales & marketing tool companies use 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 allows businesses to market their services outside their immediate locality. 0800 numbers indicate a national presence, so they aren’t tied to any region. This is particularly useful for businesses that trade online, as they have the capability to distribute products or services nationally or even internationally.

For example, one of our customers sells kid’s balance bikes and wanted a number that customers could call free of charge. Our basic 0800 number plan suited them perfectly, allowing them to accept “free to call” pre-sales enquiries and customer support calls for a low monthly fee. Calls could be redirected to a landline or mobile number, giving greater flexibility while company staff were working remotely.

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, it is important to note that the call is no longer free when calling an 0800 number from abroad (whether it’s from a landline or mobile phone). Depending on the telecom provider and location, you’ll be charged a pence per minute rate. You’ll need to contact your mobile or landline operator to get their 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 complete 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 can 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 premise or office location. The non-geographic aspect also means businesses can change locations without worrying about changing their business number.

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