What are 03 telephone numbers?
03 numbers (UK telephone numbers beginning with the 03 prefix) are national, non-geographic numbers (as are 0800 numbers for example) and are charged at local rate (like 01 and 02 (geographic) numbers).
- 03 numbers are non-geographic numbers, as opposed to 01 and 02 prefixed numbers which are geographic numbers (ie, assigned to specific geographical territories within the UK).
- 03 numbers are charged at local-rate, as opposed to 0800 numbers which are completely free to call, or 0870 numbers which are charged at business rate (13p per minute plus access charge).
Different types of 03 numbers
Within the 03 number range are various different types of numbers with, some having minor differences to others. These include:
- 0300 numbers which are reserved for charities and government organisations.
- 0330 & 0333 numbers which are still very memorable.
- 0344, 0345, 0370, 0371 & 0372 numbers which made to mimic the 08 prefix equivalents, ie 0844, 0845, 0870, 0871 & 0872 numbers; thus helping companies to convert their customer service helplines from a commission-generating model based on business-rate phone numbers (prefixed 084 & 087) to local-rate, mobile-friendly 03 equivalents in order to conform to new laws brought into force by Ofcom on 1st July 2015. These new laws meant that post-sale customer service helplines became officially forbidden from being exclusively accessible via revenue-generating numbers. As of July 2015 all after-sales customer service helplines are legally required to use local-rate (01, 02, 03) or freephone (0800, 0808, etc) numbers.
Popular examples of 03 numbers
Examples of popular 03 numbers include:
- 0300 790 6801 – This is the official contact number for DVLA driver licensing enquiries. This number also holds the record for being the most popular of all 03 phone numbers in 2016! The DVLA is the most popular UK government contact, and their driver licensing enquiries helpline is their most popular helpline.
- 0344 241 1653 – This is the most heavily advertised customer service contact number for Sky, suitable for Sky TV and broadband enquries from existing customers. It’s one of the most heavily used 03 numbers in the UK because Sky’s customer service helplines are the most in-demand helplines of commercial companies in the UK today. The popularity of this number is only mitigated by the presence of various popular alternative numbers, such as Sky’s popular freephone customer service number 0800 151 2747.
- 0330 123 4055 – This is one of the more popular numbers for Tesco’s main customer service helpline, but like with Sky, its popularity is somewhat undermined by the existence and promotion of an equivalent freephone number, 0800 50 55 55.
Cost of calling 03 numbers
03 numbers cost the same as 01 and 02 numbers. The exact cost varies as it’s set by your phone network / service provider, but the law enforces that all 03 numbers should be charged by your phone company at exactly the same rate as all geographic 01 & 02 numbers are charged – so whichever price your current phone company sets for you to call 01 and 02 numbers, the same cost applies to 03 numbers (so long as you’re using the same phone on the same tariff etc).
Are 03 numbers free to call?
03 numbers are not freephone numbers like 0800, 0808 and 0500 numbers are. However, 03 numbers are compatible with most mobile phones’ (and landline phones’) free inclusive minutes allowance offers, so if you don’t expect to use up all your free minutes, you can consider your call to an 03 number effectively free. Most mobile phone contracts and tariffs include free minutes allowances on a per-contract, per-month or per-topup basis. These free minutes can be spent calling 03 numbers just as easily as they can be spent using 01 and 02 numbers.
Other numbers, including those beginning 084, 087, 09 and 118, are exempt from being callable for free under inclusive free minutes offers because the cost of calling these numbers is higher than the cost of calling 01, 02 and 03 numbers – at least it’s higher for your phone company because a percentage of the call cost is rebated as a commission to the company who owns the number. This rebate rule applies to all 084 numbers (low-cost ‘LoCall’ business rate numbers) and 087 numbers (higher-end business rate numbers) as well as 09 and 118 numbers (premium-rate numbers) which can be far more expensive.