Jun 112014

PhoneI’ll save you a big headache and show you how to call phone numbers in Europe (trust me when I say that it is way more confusing than it should be).  Specifically, this article will teach you how to call European phone numbers from outside of Europe and also within Europe as well as covering the difference between calling within the same country as the number you are dialing versus calling from outside the country.

When a European gives you their number they may write it like this:


The problem is that the number changes depending on how and where you are calling from.

The number given above is what you would dial when you are in the same country as where the person got the phone number.  So, if that is a German number and you are calling the person from within Germany AND you have a German SIM card, then you will dial the number listed above.

However, if you are calling from outside of Germany to that German number, you need to include the country’s dialing code prefix for Germany.  Country codes are written like this: 0049 or this: +49 (you can choose either way to enter the country code) and they go in front of the number you wish to dial.

The 49 is the country code and this will change for every country in Europe and also the world.  The U.K. code is 44, France’s is +33, Spain’s is +34, and also the USA’s is +1.  So, when you call home you will also need to include your country’s dialing code before the number that you want to call.  The reason this becomes tricky in Europe is that there are so many tiny countries that, as a traveler, you will usually be calling numbers with different country codes.

When you go to add the country code to the phone number, you must drop the leading zero!  This is very important and, before I knew this, I once spent 30 minutes at a pay phone trying different numbers until I got lucky and entered it the correct way.

To call the number above from a different country you would write it like this (assuming this is for a German number):

0049 15731551442

Notice how there is no zero before the 157 in the number any more.

If you are using a cell phone or Skype you can write the country code with the plus sign like this:

+49 15731551442

There are some circumstances when you may have to dial a country code when you are in the same country as the number you are trying to call.  For instance, if you are in Germany and trying to call a German number but you have a SIM card from France in your phone, then you should still dial the German country code.

As a result of the confusion that this can cause, I simply always include the country code no matter what number I am calling.  In addition, when I save contact information in my phone, I always include the country code prefix at the beginning of the number so that, no matter what, it will work when I want to call the person.

Also, remember that, when you are calling a number without using the country code prefix in Europe, you MUST add back the leading zero for the phone number to work.

Best Practice

Always enter the country code prefix before dialing a number or saving it in your phone and you will never have any problems.


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