03 Numbers

03 Numbers

What are 03 telephone numbers?

03 numbers are UK phone numbers that start with the numbers 03 and are non-geographic numbers.  This makes them similar to 0800 numbers.  They are also charged at a local rate in the same way that 01 and 02 numbers are charged.

  • 03 numbers are non-geographic, unlike 01 and 02 numbers which are set to a specific place or region of the country.
  • 03 numbers receive the local rate pricing.  This makes them different to 0800 numbers which are freephone numbers or 0870 numbers which are charged at the business rate of 13p per minute plus the access charge.

Different types of 03 numbers

There are a number of different types of 03 numbers that have slightly different purposes.  Included in these are:

  • 0300 – these are used for charities and government organisations
  • 0330 & 0333 – memorable numbers
  • 0344, 0345, 0370, 0371, 0372 – these are used to mimic the freephone numbers and are used to convert their customers from free helpline to a commission generated model based on business rates phone numbers such as 084 and 087 using the new mobile-friendly 03 equivalents.  These measures were taken in order to fall in line with the new rules brought in by Ofcom in July 2015.  The aim was to make post-sale customer services helping become officially forbidden from being exclusively accessible only by revenue-generating numbers.  This means all helping numbers needed to either be freephone numbers or local rate numbers including 03.

Popular examples of 03 numbers

Examples of some of the most well-known 03 numbers include:

  • 0300 790 6801 – DVLA licensing enquiries.  This number holds the record for being the most used 03 number of 2016 and is the most popular number within the most popular government department (in terms of call numbers!)
  • 0344 241 1653 – this is a heavily advertised number used by Sky for Sky TV and broadband existing customer queries.  Due to the high demand for Sky services, this is one of the most well used of the 03 numbers.  Sky also have freephone numbers to use such as 0800 151 2747.
  • 0330 123 4055 – this is a number of Tesco’s customer services and is popular but not as much as the freephone equivalent 0800 505555.

Cost of calling 03 numbers

Calling 03 number costs the same as calling a 01 or 02 number but this does vary between providers.  The law states that companies must charge the same for 03 numbers as for 01 and 02 numbers so the calls should cost no more than ringing a geographic number from your phone.

Are 03 numbers free to call?

Unlike 0800 numbers, 03 numbers are not freephone numbers.  However, if you have a landline or mobile plan that gives you inclusive free minutes, then calls to 03 numbers should count towards this and means they don’t cost you anything.  It is the same as calling a 01 or 02 number from your phone.

Some numbers are exempt from free calling plans including 084, 087, 09 and 118.  These lines have higher call costs and that’s why they don’t fall under free plans.  Calls to these numbers see a percentage of the call cost related to the phone company by the company that owns the number.  This rebate rule applies to 084 and 087 numbers as well as 09 and 118 numbers although the latter two can be a lot more expensive anyway.

WHY buy, HOW to buy and WHERE to buy 03 numbers

Many companies chose to get a 03 number for their business.  It offers the chance to have a memorable number that forwards calls to the business premises or call centre and tracks stats without costing as much as a freephone number.

03 numbers aren’t as popular due to the freephone numbers becoming mobile friendly in 2015 but not every company can or want to foot the bill for a freephone number so 03 numbers offer a great alternative.

The 2015 regulations mean that all organisation must refrain from using premium and business rate numbers for after-sales customer services so there remain only three options:

  1. Freephone numbers such as0800 where calls incur a high charge for the business
  2. Stay with the default landline number which may not be very memorable and could be difficult to transfer if you move
  3. Get a non-geographic number that meets the legal requirements such as a 03 number.  These come as a package with a portal where you can view call stats, set up pre-recorded messages, menu systems, call recordings and more.

What’s the downside?

The primary downside of a 03 number is that audio quality may not be quite as good as with standard numbers because calls travel a bit further.  If you have a good telecoms supplier, this shouldn’t be a problem.  You don’t generate any revenue from calls as this is illegal.  But you are also aren’t paying for these calls in the way you would for a freephone number, so it is an effective balance for many businesses.

There are also a number of companies offering 03 number services to find out more, get in touch with them.

Where to buy 03 numbers

You can buy directly from BT Business https://business.bt.com/products/voice/numbers/

BT’s long and distinguished history means that every call in the UK still goes through BT’s systems even if it is managed by another company.  We recommend buying directly from them if you are a big business and need good capability, a level of independence and want to cut out the middleman.  You do need a certain level of technical ability within your company to deal with the service.

For smaller businesses, you may be best advised to find the service through a more customer-centric provider who can help with the setup and running of the service.  You can find out more from BT Business by filling in the form on their website or requesting a callback.

There are also a number of small to medium-sized companies who offer this service for any businesses who can’t manage it themselves and need support.  Examples include Number Supermarket who offer help and advanced reporting interfaces as well as great customer services to help you set up your 03 number.  You can visit their website, select the number and quickly sign up.  They even have their own 03 number to ring to chat with them about the service.