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03 or not 03, that is the question.

August 17, 2012

Ofcom released 03 numbers UK wide in 2007 as an alternative to chargeable numbers such as 0870, yet five years on they are still shrouded in mystery.

We hope the below will give some clarity to this grey area..

What is an 03 number used for?

Telephone numbers that begin with 03 are known as UK Wide numbers and were introduced by Ofcom to offer businesses and non-profit organisations a contact number that is charged at a low rate to the caller but also offers the same national presence as the more commonly known 0800 and 0845 numbers.

The difference between 03 and 030 numbers

Any business can use an 03 number as a point of contact however the 030 prefix can only be used by government and non-profit organisations such as councils, schools and universities, and charities. If your website has a .org or .gov suffix then it is likely that you qualify to use the 030 prefix.

Features and Benefits

The Number is Not “Location Specific”

An 03 number is UK wide and does not represent a specific geographic location. This makes it ideal as a marketing number where the business is advertising nationally or county-wide. Callers can be prejudicial when it comes to calling businesses outside of their perceived local area. Using an 03 number can be more attractive to these type of callers.

Functionality and Portability

This type of virtual number can usually offer onward routing to multiple destination numbers and advanced telephony features such as call recording, call queuing, voicemail, fax receiving, routing by time of day and routing by key press.

An 03 number is not connected to a local exchange and can route a call to any destination. If a business moves premises (or even moves overseas) then the calls can be redirected to the new office instantly. With this type of number you will also receive data which gives every detail about your incoming calls – who called, at what time, for how long, how often, peak usage times etc…

Low Cost to Caller

An 03 number is the same call cost as any standard UK geographic number (beginning 01 or 02) and if the caller has a bundled minute package where a certain number of UK landline minutes are included then the call will be free.

Why 03 numbers could be better than 0800s.

These days calls from mobiles are more common, and a growing number of those on low incomes or transient residence only have mobiles and not landlines. A call to a ‘freephone’ 0800 number on your mobile usually isn’t free, in fact it can cost upwards of 10p/minute on some tariffs. Yet with an 03 number you know the call will be as cheap as it can be from a mobile; usually much cheaper than calling an 0800 and can even be free with inclusive call packages.


In short an 03 number has all the flexibility and functionality of other virtual numbers and gives a national presence while at the same time offering a low cost call to the consumer.

 Guest Blog by Ian Conway, Director of Numbers Plus