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9th May 2023

Types of paid numbers – which phone numbers are free and which are not

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How much you pay for different types of paid phone calls will depend on your phone provider. There are also different charges between landlines and mobiles. To learn which paid numbers you will be charged for and how much, you will need to refer to the plan or package you have subscribed to. Charges will depend on what type of phone you are calling from, what time of day it is, and how long the conversation is. However, there are some numbers that are always free, and some that will always come with a significant price tag.

Phone charges are regulated by several authorities including Ofcom and the Phone-paid Services Authority. 

What are paid numbers usually used for?

Paid numbers can be divided into different categories. Basic rate numbers include geographic numbers (starting with 01 and 02), and UK-wide non-geographic numbers (starting with 03). 01 and 02 numbers may be used by individuals or businesses, while 03 numbers are used by charities and businesses. 

Some paid numbers such as 084 and 087 will be charged at a slightly higher rate. These numbers are used by businesses for sales or enquiries lines. 

118 numbers are used to call Direct Enquiry services and are charged. 

Premium rate numbers such as 09 numbers are the most expensive to call. There are many different organisations that use premium rate numbers, but some of the more common ones are charities, television voting, competition entries, customer support services, horoscope reading, and weather forecasts. These numbers are regulated by the Phone-paid Services Authority.

Which numbers are free and which are not?

These numbers are free


119 is the NHS service line for help with Covid-19 vaccines, testing, and passes. Is it free to call?


0800 numbers

0800 numbers are freephone services. 

0808 numbers

0808 numbers such as 08085 are freephone services.

These phone numbers are not free

020 and 0203 Numbers

020 is the London area code. 0203 is specifically for central London. These are geographic landlines and will be charged as such. 

03 Numbers

03 numbers are nationwide numbers that are not associated with a specific location. They are charged the same as a 01 or 02 landline number. The company using an 03 number is not allowed to collect revenue from what the caller pays to make the call. Some types of 03 numbers include:

0300 Used by non-profit organisations, charities and public services. 

033X numbers such as 0330 or 0333 are available to any company. 

034X numbers such as 0344, 0345, and 03457 are reserved for companies moving from the corresponding 084X number.

037X Reserved for companies moving from a 087X number.

0844 numbers

0844 numbers are non-geographic numbers charged at a business rate.

0870 and 08700 numbers

0870 numbers are business rate or premium rate numbers regulated by the PSA. 



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