How Do I Dial Overseas Phone Numbers?

Written by gigi starr
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How Do I Dial Overseas Phone Numbers?
Keep in touch across oceans and long distances. (telephone image by Marek Kosmal from

At first glance, an international phone number may look confusing and odd. The dizzying array of digits doesn't appear to be anything like an American number and you wouldn't think the phone system would be able to handle it. However, by using the right prefix, an international number will work just as well as an American one. As long as your phone plan allows foreign calling, there should be no problem dialling an international number.

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  1. 1

    Make certain that you know your country's correct exit code. According to, exit codes, or International Direct Dialing codes, are used for dialling out of the country. For most countries, the exit code is either 00 or 011. The caller must dial this code at the beginning of the number.

  2. 2

    Ensure that the phone number is complete. For the North American phone number system, a complete phone number reads 1 (XXX) XXX-XXXX; there's no need to push an exit code for calls between Canada and the U.S. Other international numbers may have more digits grouped together in various ways, but this doesn't affect dialling. One example is +011 020 XXXX XXXX, with +011 as the U.S. exit code, 020 as the British country code, and the rest as the phone number.

  3. 3

    Drop the "0" at the beginning of the phone number. After the exit code and country code comes the actual phone number, which may start with a 0. This digit is called a trunk code and isn't used in country-to-country calling, so leave it off when dialling.

  4. 4

    Dial the number. Make sure to listen for any beeps or sounds that signal dialling or connection errors. You'll know that you dialled correctly when you hear a ring-ring-ring or other tone that doesn't sound like the North American ringtone.

Tips and warnings

  • If you have problems dialling the number, calling an international operator may seem like a viable option for completing the call. Be warned, however, that this service usually costs significantly more than using a domestic operator.
  • If using a calling card, stay informed about hidden connection fees, dormancy charges and other potential charges.

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