0800 and 0808 Numbers
What are 0800 and 0808 numbers?
Phone numbers with 0800 or 0808 at the start are all freephone numbers. This means it costs nothing to call them from UK landlines and mobile phones. There are certain situations where you might need to pay for the call, such as calling from a hotel phone or from a payphone. This information is available below.
0800 and 0808 numbers are paid for by the organisation that you are calling. These organisations choose to use freephone numbers to make their phone lines more accessible. The number 0808 80 is used exclusively by charities. Examples of common uses for freephone numbers include:
- Customer services or sales numbers
- Government helplines
- Charitable organisations
- To access prepaid calling cards
- To access mobile phone providers
How much does it cost to call 0800 and 0808 numbers?
It is free to call 0800 and 0808 phone numbers from a UK geographical landline or from a UK mobile phone. Some organisations will block calls from payphones in order to cut costs and prevent nuisance calls.
Organisations that offer a freephone number pay a surcharge for each call they recieve and this can be as high as 85p. For this reason, calls from payphones are often blocked, but this will depend on each individual organisation and is not a blanket rule.
Another situation where you might be charged for calling 0800 or 0808 numbers is if you are staying in a hotel. In this situation, the hotel may add an expensive surcharge to every phone call made, including those to freephone numbers.
Can I call 0800 and 0808 numbers from my mobile?
Yes, it’s a common misconception that calls to 0800 and 0808 numbers are not free on mobile phones. Calls to 0800 and 0808 numbers have been free on mobile phones since 2015, but a lot of people still hang on to this belief and avoid calling freephone numbers from their mobile phone.
History of 08 numbers
In the past, all free phone calls were made by calling the operator and asking for the company by name. The operator would then connect the call free of charge. By the end of the 1980s, this practice became unsustainable and all companies using freephone lines were given phone numbers.
When the freephone number was first introduced, BT used 0800 and other phone companies used 0500, 0321 and 0958. The 0500 number was replaced by 0808 5 in 2017. The 0321 phone number was replaced with 0808 0 in 2000. And 0958 was taken out of service in 2001.
All numbers starting with 080 are technically the same, but the 0808 80 phone number is used exclusively by charities. For organizations with international callers outside of the UK, there is the option to use the international freephone number. The international freephone number format is either 00800 or +800 and works in the same way as other UK freephone numbers. Like UK freephone numbers, the call is paid for by the receiver rather than the caller.