The Telephone Area Code for London
Do you live in London? Do you call there regularly? Do you know the telephone code for the centre of the Universe that is London? If you think that it is 0207 or 0208 then the answer is an emphatic NO! Read on to enlightenment.
The telephone code for London is 020. I would be happy for this to be a mini article and end it there. Unfortunately if anyone reading this is currently thinking “but what about 0207 and 0208?” let me stop you right there. There are no such codes as 0207 or 0208. There have not been 2 codes for London for 8 years and neither of the codes mentioned ever existed.
Now that you’ve recovered from that mild shock I’ll continue. In 2000 there was a number change, British Telecom (BT) referred to it as the big number change. While it affected several areas I’m going to concentrate on London (I was born here, work and live here, yes I’m biased).
To allow for the phenomenal growth of telephone numbers the two codes for London at the time (0171 & 0181) were replaced by one code (020), the seven digit local number was replaced by an 8 digit local number. If your telephone number previously began 0171 then your new local number would begin with a 7xxx xxxx. If your telephone number previously began 0181 then your new local number would begin 8xxx xxxx.
Now the information in the above paragraph was widely reported and advertised for a year before the changeover. I am of medium intelligence but somehow picked it up immediately. 50% (made up statistic) of the population would appear to be of lower intelligence. That’s a sweeping statement I hear you cry, yet so many people continue to repeat the fallacy of 0207 & 0208.
They Should Know Better
And not just laymen, I have to deal with BT and mobile operators on a daily basis and I’m forever correcting them when they give it out erroneously. O2 even ran a promotion offering discounts to 2 area codes but defined 0207 & 0208 as different codes. However when I contacted them they brushed me off refusing to admit they were incorrect.
Since the big number change the 7 & 8 can no longer be relied on to specify geographical location as new local numbers beginning 8 have been allocated for central London and numbers beginning 7 allocated for outer London. Additionally new local London numbers beginning 3xxx xxxx have begun to be issued and a third code (0203) quoted incorrectly!!
One of the biggest problems is giving out or receiving telephone numbers. If you quote 020 7xxx xxxx, you’ll have it read back to you 0207 xxx xxxx and it becomes very confusing. In London all you need is the 8 digit local number so the 020 is superfluous anyway. Now before this goes any further we need to correct the mistake, grasp the code that is 020 and discard the 0207, 0208 and now 0203 which is blighting our phone books, advertising, letterheads and countryside!