Choice is good. Mostly.

But there are situations where choice can be good for one side, while being a negative for others. Take telecommunications for example, and the UK phone numbering market in particular.

Proliferation of UK non-geographic numbers

Aside from the geographic numbering system, where area codes are allocated to a particular town or city, the UK has a wide choice of non-geographic number prefixes.

Over the years, these non-geographic numbers have offered businesses and organisations (charities, schools, emergency services etc.) the option to provide bespoke call services and charging rates to their users.

However, some of the non-geographic prefixes have been the subject of arguments and contention. Take premium-rate numbers for example:

In many European countries, for example France, Germany and the United Kingdom, it was common for organisations to operate customer service lines on premium-rate numbers using prefixes that fall outside the scope of the country’s premium-rate number regulations. Therefore, in contrast to North America where customer service numbers are typically free of charge to the caller, consumers in Europe often used to pay a premium above the cost of a normal telephone call. (source: Wikipedia (premium-rate telephone number)

Confusion about call charges

The main cause of complaints about non-geographic numbers is confusion and lack of clear information about pricing.

A clear example of this confusion was apparent in the case of 0800 Freephone numbers. Before July 2015, calls from landlines to 0800 numbers were free. However, calls to 0800 numbers from mobile numbers carried a charge. This charge varied depending on the mobile network operator.

Finally, Ofcom clears up confusion about Freephone call charges

It wasn’t until Ofcom’s “UK Calling” regulation change introduced on 1st July 2015 that the cost of calls to Freephone numbers were standardised.

Where can you find a full list of call charges to UK phone numbers?

While we now have more clarity and transparency about call charges in the UK telecoms industry, there’s still confusion among many consumers. To try and clear up some of the confusion, we’ve published below a table outlining what you will be charged when calling any UK geographic and non-geographic number:

Table of Call Charges to all UK Phone Number Prefixes

Number starts withDescriptionCost from landlines per minute (approximate)Included in landline bundles & allowances?Cost from mobiles per minute (approximate)Included in mobile bundles & allowances?
01
02
Geographic landline numbers for areas within the UKup to 13pEvenings and weekends on many tariffs; all day on some3p to 55pUsually
03
0345
UK-wide numbersup to 9pEvenings and weekends on many tariffs; all day on some3p to 55pUsually
030Not-for-profit organisations, charities and public bodiesup to 10pEvenings and weekends on many tariffs; all day on some3p to 40pUsually
055
056
VoIP and Corporate2p to 13pRarely10p to 55pNever
07Mobile phone numbers10p to 20pIncluded on some newer tariffs3p to 55pUsually
070Personal or follow me numbers regulated by the Phone-paid Services Authority4p to £3.40 (plus a possible 51p per call)Never30p to £2.50 (plus a possible 51p per call)Never
076PagersUp to 30pNever30p to 86p and/or up to £1.22 per callNever
0800
0808
Freephone serviceFreeAlways Free to CallFreeAlways Free to Call
0843
0844
0845
Business rate numbersup to 7p and your phone company's access chargeRarelyup to 7p and your phone company's access chargeNever
0870
0871
0872
0873
Business rate numbers regulated by the Phone-paid Services Authorityup to 13p and your phone company's access chargeRarelyup to 13p and your phone company's access chargeNever
09Premium rate numbers regulated by the Phone-paid Services Authorityup to £3.60 and your phone company's access charge, plus 5p to £6 per callNeverup to £3.60 and your phone company's access charge, plus 5p to £6 per callNever
101Police non-emergency number15p per callRarely15p per callRarely
105UK-wide power cut helplineFreeAlways Free to CallFreeAlways Free to Call
111Non-emergency medical adviceFreeAlways Free to CallFreeAlways Free to Call
112Emergency servicesFreeAlways Free to CallFreeAlways Free to Call
116116 numbers are used for certain services of social value which have the same six-digit number across the European UnionFreeAlways Free to CallFreeAlways Free to Call
118Directory enquiry numbers regulated by the Phone-paid Services Authorityup to £5 and your phone company's access charge, plus possibly up to £6.98 per callNeverup to £5 and your phone company's access charge, plus possibly up to £6.98 per callNever
999Emergency servicesFreeAlways Free to CallFreeAlways Free to Call

The prices are indicative only and should not be used as a definitive list of call charges. Actual costs depend on your communication provider and a number of factors such as individual calling plans, time of day and the exact number called. You should check with your provider before you dial.