German Phone Numbers: Dialing Decoded – Guide for Expats (2024)

At a glance...

  • Germany’s country code is +49, which you must dial before the area code when calling from abroad.
  • German phone numbers have geographical area codes that vary depending on the region. For example, Berlin’s area code is 30.
  • A German mobile phone number typically starts with 15, 16, or 17, followed by the customer number.
  • Be cautious of premium-rate telephone numbers in Germany, as they can result in high charges if called.
  • Local Number Length: German landline numbers usually consist of a geographic area code and a subscriber number, totaling a standard length of 10 digits. A German mobile phone number has 11 digits, including the country code.

Contents

German Phone Numbers: Structure & Length

A telephone number serves as a unique identifier, allowing individuals to connect with each other via phone calls. Each national number is part of a larger system that includes country and area codes, ensuring calls are directed to the correct location or subscriber.

What is a Phone Number?

A phone number is a unique sequence of digits used to reach a specific party during a phone call. This sequence is within a specific geographic area code, also known as a local network.In Germany, phone numbers are assigned by a governmental body, similar to many other European countries. In Germany, this responsibility falls to the Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency).

Structure of Phone Numbers in Germany

In landline networks, telephone numbers consist of the following components:

  • Country Code (CC)
  • Area Code (AC)
  • Subscriber Number (SN) or the extension number for a system phone. In mobile networks in Germany, there is no geographical assignment (except for the country code).

Additional Insights: Provider-Specific Prefixes

Special provider-specific prefixes were created at the introduction of mobile telephony, such as 015X, 017X (always followed by a further seven digits), etc. These prefixes indicated which mobile network the called party belonged to. With the introduction of phone number portability in 2002, such deductions are no longer possible for a phone number in Germany.

Length of a Phone Number

A German phone number consists of three parts and cannot be infinitely long — this is evident even without special expertise. The maximum length of a phone number was officially defined with the E.164 standard. According to this, a phone number in international traffic may contain a maximum of 15 digits including the country code but excluding the international access code.The term “international access code” refers to the + or the double 0 (00) before the country code, for example: 0049 / +49 for the German country code.

Cracking the Codes: German Phone Number Formats

Understanding the German phone number system is essential for effective communication within and outside the country. This system encompasses international dialing codes, German area codes, German mobile phone numbers, and special numbers (premium-rate service numbers and toll-free numbers).

International Dialing Codes

International dialing codes are essential for making calls from one country to another. For callers outside Germany, dialing a German phone number requires adding the country code 0049 before the actual phone number. Similarly, callers dialing into other countries like Switzerland would use the country code 0041, while those calling into Austria would use 0043. These codes, also known as international access codes, ensure that calls are properly routed to the correct country.

German Area Codes

Local resp geographic area codes in Germany, resp. local numbers are initiated with 02xx, 03xx, 04xx, 05xx, 06xx, 07xx, 08xx, or 09xx. After the area code (there are over 5000 local networks and thus also over 5000 geographic area codes), the individual phone number of the connection follows.

Different cities have different area codes:

  • For the city of Hamburg, the area code is 040. Therefore, a local number in Hamburg would start with 040, followed by the individual phone number of the connection. Different cities have different area codes.
  • For Frankfurt, the area code is 069. So, a local number in Frankfurt would start with 069, followed by the individual phone number. Each city in Germany has a different area code.

Mobile Phone Numbers

Mobile phone numbers (Mobilfunknummern) in Germany are reserved within five number ranges. When analyzing a mobile phone prefix, one will find a prefix zero, a service code (for example, 15, 16 or 17), and a block identifier.

Originally, it was possible to determine the provider of German mobile phone numbers based on the mobile phone prefix. However, it has become increasingly difficult to do so. This is because, nowadays, when switching providers, most people take their mobile phone numbers with them. As a result, the boundaries between different providers are becoming increasingly blurred.

If you want to find out the mobile phone operator for a specific number, you can do so from a landline by calling 01805-001133. This can be particularly useful if your contract includes a flat rate to a specific provider. All-net flats make information about the respective provider increasingly less important.

Special Numbers (Premium-Rate & Toll-Free Numbers)

Special phone numbers (Sonderrufnummern) in Germany include both toll-free numbers and premium-rate numbers, distinguished by their prefixes. These numbers can be split into a prefix (“0”), a code for the specific service, and a tariff identifier.

Toll-Free Numbers:

  • Prefix 0800: Indicates toll-free numbers, meaning that the caller does not incur any charges for the call. A toll-free number is often used for customer service and support hotlines.

Premium-Rate Numbers:

  • Prefixes 0180 or 0190: These indicate premium-rate numbers, where callers are charged a higher rate than standard calls. These service numbers are typically used for premium-rate services like voting lines, adult content & entertainment, TV and radio shows, or information hotlines.

It’s significant to note that the charges for calling premium-rate numbers can vary, so it’s advisable to check the specific tariffs before making a call.

Short Numbers

Short numbers (Kurznummern) in Germany are typically used for emergencies (emergency phone numbers). The most well-known short number is the European emergency number, 112, which can be used to contact the police, ambulance services, and fire brigade / fire department. The police can also be reached directly using the national number 110. The unified government service number where you can book appointments at government offices is 115, which has been in use for eight years.

Additional Knowledge: Universal Emergency Number 112

The emergency number “112” for rescue services is not only valid in Germany but also in many other European countries, including all EU states. Additionally, 112 is recognized in some countries outside Europe, at least by modern smartphones. In these cases, the caller is either redirected to the local emergency number or the 112 operates parallel to the local emergency numbers. For example, the 112-emergency number is valid in the following countries:

  • Africa: Egypt, Ghana, South Africa
  • Asia: China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Taiwan, UAE
  • North America: Canada, USA
  • Oceania: Australia, New Zealand
  • South America: Brazil, Chile, Colombia

Additionally, the number range 116xxx is reserved for social services. These numbers have specific extensions for different services, such as medical on-call services and telephone counseling services. Directory assistance can be reached at 118xx.

Short numbers in Germany serve various purposes:

  • Emergency Services: 112 is the European emergency number for police, ambulance, and fire department.
  • Direct Police Contact:110 is the direct line to the police.
  • Unified Government Service Number:115 is the unified number for government services in Germany.
  • Social Services:116xxx numbers are reserved for social services, with specific extensions for different services.
  • Directory Assistance: 118xx are numbers for directory assistance.

Additional Knowledge: Ärztlicher Notdienst 116 & 117

In Germany, next to the above listed emergency numbers, there’s a medical on-call service available outside regular hours. It’s called “Ärztlicher Bereitschaftsdienst” or “Ärztlicher Notdienst,” and can be reached by calling 116 117. It’s for urgent medical issues that can’t wait until regular office hours.

How to Write a Phone Number Correctly

The correct number format for writing a phone number is governed by a standard, DIN 5008. The German standard DIN 5008 provides guidelines for formatting written communication in Germany. This includes specifying how to write phone numbers, ensuring they are clear and consistent.

Additional Insights: DIN

The German DIN, or Deutsches Institut für Normung (German Institute for Standardization), is the national organization responsible for developing and publishing technical standards in Germany. DIN standards cover a wide range of topics, including manufacturing, engineering, and technology, as well as aspects of daily life such as typography, paper sizes, and even how to brew a cup of tea. These standards ensure quality, safety, and efficiency in products and processes across various industries.

Writing a Landline Number Correctly

  • National Use: According to DIN 5008, the number format for a national number is 030 12345678.
  • Extensions: For a landline number with extensions, the extension can be indicated with a hyphen, for example: 030 123456-78
  • International Calls: For international use from anywhere in the world, the country code along with the international access code is represented, you have to dial phone numbers for example as follows: +49 30 12345678 or +49 30 123456-78.
  • International Format: In international usage, the double zero is often used instead of the plus sign, for example: 0049 30 12345678.

Writing a Mobile Phone Number Correctly

  • National Use: In national use, the mobile numbers are simply separated from the area code by a space, for example: 0170 12345678.
  • International Use: For international use, the leading zero is removed, and the country code of the respective country is added. For German mobile numbers, this looks like: +49 170 12345678.

When it comes to mobile phones, the plus symbol can be selected by holding down the 0 key, which is different from landline phones. Vice versa: irrelevant if calling a German number from a landline or mobile phone instead of the plus sign, you can use the double zero.

FAQ: German Telephone Numbers

To get a German phone number, resp. a national number in Germany, you can contact a telecommunications provider in Germany. They will offer various local number options, including mobile and landline phone numbers. You can choose a phone number in Germany based on your personal needs.

To get phone numbers in Germany, typically, you will need to provide some personal information and identification documents, such as a passport or ID card, to set up a phone number in Germany.
use case:

If you’re looking for a phone number in Germany, the easiest place to look first would almost certainly be the internet and local directories. Most businesses in Germany will have their German numbers listed on search engines, but alternatively to find a local number, you could also consult dastelefonbuch.de, the online version of the old school telephone book.

No, generally not. Even if you use Germany’s country code, the telephone network will recognize that it is a national call and will bill accordingly based on the German tariff / phone plan.

In Germany, a complete telephone number consists of two parts: the area code (Ortsvorwahl) and the customer number (Teilnehmernummer).

Geographic Area Codes: The area code is a geographic area code that identifies a specific region or city within Germany. Each area code corresponds to a particular geographic area. For example, Berlin has the area code 030, while Munich has the area code 089.

Subscriber Number: The customer number is the unique number assigned to an individual phone line within the specified area code. It is used to identify a specific phone line within the area.

To dial German phone numbers, e.g., a local number within Germany, you need to dial the area code followed by the subscriber number. If you are dialing from outside Germany, you need to dial the country code (0049 for Germany), followed by the area code (without the leading zero) and the subscriber number.

During every emergency call:

  • Keep calm and let the call guide you. To prepare for the emergency call, you can answer the following questions:
  • Who is calling? (Name, location, local phone number)
  • Where did it happen? (Location of the incident, address)
  • What happened? (Description of the incident, traffic accident, fire, domestic accident, etc.)
  • How many injured/affected people are there? (Number of affected persons, their condition, and injuries

Wait for further questions. Please only end the emergency call when asked to do so.

If necessary, you will receive information at the end of the emergency call on how to administer first aid or what behavior is recommended. Please wait for the arrival of the rescue services, guide them if necessary, and share any important observations with them.

To dial German phone numbers, you need to follow these steps:

For a Local Number:

  • If you are dialing from within Germany, simply dial the local area code (e.g., 030 for Berlin) followed by the subscriber number. Example: 030 12345678 (for a Berlin number).
  • If you are dialing from outside Germany, dial the country code for Germany (0049) followed by the local area code and subscriber number. Example: +49 30 12345678 (for a Berlin number).

For a German Mobile Number:

  • If you are dialing from within Germany, simply dial the mobile number, starting with the digit ‘0’. Example: 0170 1234567 (for a German mobile number).
  • If you are dialing from outside Germany, dial the country code for Germany (0049) followed by the mobile number, omitting the leading ‘0’. Example: +49 170 1234567 (for a German mobile number).

A virtual phone number is a telephone number that is not directly associated with a traditional phone line. Instead, a virtual phone number is typically used to receive calls for call forwarding of incoming calls to a pre-set destination, which could be a mobile phone, landline, or VoIP service. Virtual phone numbers are often used by businesses to establish a local presence in different areas without the need for physical offices or phone lines. A virtual number can also provide flexibility, despite the time zone, and cost savings, as they can be easily set up, managed, and redirected as needed.

Final thoughts: advantages of a virtual phone number:

  • make and receive calls to phone numbers in Germany
  • call forwarding of incoming calls to a number in Germany
  • use of power dialers to make more calls to numbers in Germany
German Phone Numbers: Dialing Decoded – Guide for Expats (2024)

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