118 Numbers

118 Numbers

What are 118 numbers?

118 numbers are UK phone numbers that start with the number 118. This is a way to show they are a premium rate call and are used for directory enquiries – where you call to find a number that belongs to a person or a business that you don’t know.

  • PREMIUM RATE: 118 numbers can cost several pounds per minute for every call and this is why they are classed as premium rate. This high cost to access is similar to numbers that start with 09 as these are also counted as premium rate calls.  They are different from numbers starting with 01 or 02 which are known as geographic numbers as well as numbers that start with 03, known as non-geographic numbers.  And obviously, they are different from the 0800 and 0808 numbers as these are free phone numbers and calls to them don’t cost anything.
  • NON-GEOGRAPHIC: These 118 numbers are also classed as non-geographic numbers because they are registered nationally, rather than being connected with any particular area or city in the UK.  Geographic numbers are regional – 020 numbers are assigned to London, for example, while numbers starting 0161 are for businesses and people living in the Manchester area.  08 numbers are also non-geographic but are used to show numbers that don’t cost, and 03 numbers are also non-geographic.


telephone person calling

Examples of 118 numbers

  • 118 118 is one of the most famous of this type of number thanks to the TV advertising with the 1980s style runners with their fake wigs.  This number is one to ring to find out information such as directory enquiries but also offers services like finding train times and even the listings at the local cinema.
  • 118 500 is the main directory enquiries service if you need to find the number for a person or business that is listed with BT.
  • 118 247 is the same type of service offered by the Yellow Pages, which works alongside their Yell.com website

Cost of calling 118 numbers

Calls to 118 numbers are classed as premium rate and this makes them among the most expensive numbers to call. Only 09 can compare or be more expensive.

The call can cost a maximum of £6.49 per call (known as a service charge) along with a minute rate of up to £3.49. So, calls to these numbers are very costly!

In addition, the company you are calling doesn’t have to tell you what their rate is before you make the call but do have to tell you that it will keep being charged at that rate if you get them to forward your call to a number you are enquiring about through directory enquiries service. This means it is better to get the number, disconnect and call it yourself.

You should only call 118 numbers if you really must because they are so expensive and keep the call as quickly as possible to avoid a massive phone bill.

How do 118 numbers compare to other premium-rate phone numbers (07, 087 and 09 numbers)

One of the reasons that 118 numbers are so expensive is because they are short in length and therefore really desirable for businesses.  Using just six numbers rather than the standard 11 they are much easier to remember.

09 numbers also are very expensive, comparative to or even more than 118 numbers but these businesses will often charge the lower end of what is allowed to keep customers.

087 numbers are a much more affordable option at around 13p per minute while the cheapest premium rate numbers are the ones that start with 070 – these are often call forwarding services but not many people use them.

All premium rate phone numbers are regulated by the Phone Paid Services Authority, who used to be known as PhonePayPlus.

They are a subsidiary of Ofcom and are responsible for 09 and 118 numbers as well as 070 and 087 numbers.  They have an official number checking system where you can find out exactly what a call to a specific number will cost before you make it.