What Are 03 Telephone Numbers?

I’ve started to notice the use of more 03 telephone numbers by businesses (e.g. 03123 456789), and because they look a little unusual, (almost like a foreign phone number) I was wondering what the deal with them was, and how much they cost to call.

According to Wikipedia, these 03 numbers cost the same to call as geographic landline numbers (like “normal” phone numbers which start with an 01 or 02), even from a mobile phone.

They are also included as part of inclusive call minutes and discount schemes from all major mobile phone and landline operators. This last point is where they differ from other 08 numbers, including 0800s, which are not included in your free monthly minutes.

Here’s a list of the mobile phone call charges associated with different types of telephone number:

Number Mobile phone call cost
03 Inclusive or at geographic rate
0800 20-20p/min
0844 20-55p/min
0845 20-30p/min
0870 20-29p/min
0871 35-50p/min

So if you see an 03 number advertised, there’s no need to think that it will be followed by a huge bill for a call to a foreign destination, it should be charged the same as a local rate call, whether you’re phoning from a landline, mobile phone or even a payphone (remember them? They’re those big ugly boxes plastered with adverts for months-old movies which you sometimes see in town centres being used by druggies  to score their next hit).

Creative Commons License photo credit: skreid

5 thoughts on “What Are 03 Telephone Numbers?

  1. Interesting, have to admit I hadn’t noticed these. More and more I find myself dialing numbers I click on the iPhone.

    I have no idea what my own mobile number is for similar reasons (if a friend wants it, I call them, and work contacts get it off my email or biz card).

    It wouldn’t surprise me to see telephone numbers ‘disappear’ one day.

  2. Yep, think you’re right. Once Google Voice gets a foothold, most of us will probably be reachable at one number, wherever we are, and then you’ll probably be able to associate an email address to the number or something.

    Plus with Voice Recognition on the iPhone (and presumably other smart phones), all you need to do is say a contact’s name, and it will call them – so you rarely need to use their number, once it’s programmed into your phone.

  3. These appeared with very little fanfare didn’t they?

    Having just done a little digging in all the operator T&Cs, I found that “the big 4” (Orange, Vodafone, Three, T-Mobile, O2) all consider 03 to be the same as 01 and 02, i.e. charged at your standard landline network rate if no inclusive minutes remain. If you’ve got minutes, the calls are effectively free.

    Good to know!

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