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22nd May 2023

How to go ex-directory

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A telephone directory, or phonebook, is a list of all the phone subscribers in a certain area. A directory is used to find the landline number of a subscriber. They are normally organised by name in alphabetical order. Often phonebooks will include the address associated with the landline as well. Phone directories also often included important numbers such as those for emergency services or other helpful information. 

A traditional phonebook lists all the subscribers in a certain geographic location. Because of this, phonebooks only include landline numbers that are tied to a specific place and will not include mobile numbers. 

Although phone directories started out as physical books, many of them have moved onto digital platforms. The first online telephone directories appeared in the 1990s and this service is still popular today. 

What does ex-directory mean?

There are many benefits to being listed in a phonebook, but some subscribers might wish to remove their numbers for personal reason or to avoid marketing calls. When someone requests that their name, number, and address be removed from the telephone directory, they are said to have gone ex-directory. 

Apart from phone directories, many phone companies also provide a Directory Enquiries service. This is often reached using a paid number starting with 118. Directory Enquiries allows the caller to ask for the contact information of a subscriber, whether they are an individual or a business. The price for calling these Directory Enquiry numbers has increased substantially in recent years, but there are many online services that can provide the same information. Becoming completely ex-directory will also prevent your information being given out through Directory Enquiries.

When searching for someone’s details using an online resource, you might be presented with the search results ‘not listed’ or ‘not found.’ A phone number that is ‘not listed’ is ex-directory and not able to be disclosed. Meanwhile, a number listed as ‘not found’ means that the number does not exist at all. 

How to go ex-directory

To go ex-directory, contact your phone provider. Many providers will remove you from their directory for free. It might take a few days for the company to process your request. 

Some phone providers will offer different options. For example, you might choose to go completely ex-directory and prevent people from finding your number both through phonebook services and Directory Enquiries services. But you could also choose to allow people to find you through Directory Enquiries only, and still remove your number and details from the telephone directory. 

Further steps

Going ex-directory will remove your information from newly printed phonebooks, online telephone directories, and make you unavailable via Directory Enquiries if you choose so. However, your information might still be held in other people search directories. You will need to remove yourself from these websites individually. Find out if you are listed in the directory by using our telephone search. If you wish to remove yourself from, use our removal request form

Going ex-directory can help keep your number private. However, it will not prevent people who already have your number from contacting you. If you are being bothered by persistent marketing or spam calls, see our blog on How to Block a Phone Number to learn how to prevent spam and block specific numbers. 



Simunix is the development team behind We also offer our services via T2A Web Services API, 118 365 directory assistance number and our powerful corporate service; ORBIS.

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