TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Worldwide Telephone Numbers (Re: How to Dial US Toll Free)

Worldwide Telephone Numbers (Re: How to Dial US Toll Free)

Anthony Bellanga (
Wed, 11 Jan 2006 02:01:22 -0700

PAT: PLEASE suppress my email address where-ever it might appear in
the headers, in order to try to reduce $pam. Thanks.

> Subject: How to Dial US Toll Free from Toronto

> Can someone tell me how to dial 800 and 888 numbers in the US from
> Toronto?

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: A good question. This is mostly up
> to the recipient of the call, if he wants to receive a call from
> an international point or not. Since Toronto is part of the same
> dialing plan as here in USA, the call completes if the owner of
> the number wants to recieve it. If not, then the call bounces
> somewhere along the way with a message saying "call not permitted
> from your area code", or words to that effect. You can get around
> that by asking the owner if he wishes to accept international calls
> to his toll-free number and if so, to ask his telco to arrange it,
> or ask him what is his 'regular' number. Some companies publish their
> regular number and tell international callers to call them on it
> collect. The other thing you can do is use the 'USA Direct' number
> from the country you are in, and on that, _you_ pay for a call to
> the USA border and then the 800 owner pays for a call from there to
> his point. There are also 'privately maintained gateways' doing the
> same thing. Dial direct into them then on fresh dialtone dial the
> USA toll-free number. You cannot force someone to pay for a collect
> call (automated, via 800 or otherwise) unless they wish to do so.

> I admit this can be a problem when so many USA-based advertisements
> appear in Canadian (or European) media. They give as the only way to
> contact them a USA-based 800 number; its almost as if they are saying
> there is no where else in the world besides the USA, so live with it.
> Some companies have an 'international-style 800 number' as opposed to
> a purely 'domestic 800 number', but those are not in common useage.
> PAT]

What gets me is how many US (and possibly Canadian) companies who
advertize their contact numbers, both toll-free 800, 888, 877, 866,
etc, as well as POTS numbers on TV, which is just as worldwide as the
Internet is these days, as follows:

Call Toll Free: 1-8YY-NXX-XXXX within the US (and Canada)
Outside the US and Canada: NPA-NXX-XXXX

Note that they use the 1+ access prefix for toll-free calls within the
US (and Canada), but when they display their POTS number for access
from outside North America, they don't show any "leading '1'" digit.

However, that leading '1' should really be maintained especially for
a full international format! While a leading '1' wouldn't necessarily
be an "access prefix" for calls from outside of North America,
a "leading '1'" digit on the POTS number would indicate to callers
from outside North America that the call is indeed an international
or overseas call to *country code '1'*, aka "world zone '1'", which
is the North American Numbering Plan of the US, Canada, and many
Caribbean Islands.

These days, more and more businesses outside of the US and Canada are
listing their full international number in adverts and such. You are
seeing more numbers displayed on the Internet and elsewhere (if you
see non-US/Canadian ads and such), as +44 etc (for the UK) or +81 etc
(for Japan), +33 etc (for France) etc.

Even if a US (or Canadian) POTS number is displayed in (worldwide) ads
without a '+' sign, as long as a leading '1' is shown, i.e.,
1.311.555.2368 or 1 311 555 2368 or 1-311-555-2368 or 1+ 311 555-2368
or something like that, callers elsewhere in the world from outside
North America should have no difficulty in realizing that the call is
intended for the US (or Canada).

While in the US or Canada, we know that 416-NXX-XXXX is Toronto, some
callers from outside the US or Canada might mis-dial the call to
Switzerland (country code +41). Thus a Toronto business displaying
their number really should show it as 1-416-NXX-XXXX. Thus a caller
from elsewhere in the world would know that this is a number in North

Businesses in Birmingham AL should really add a leading '1' in some
way to 205-NXX-XXXX, as 1-205-NXX-XXXX, so that callers elsewhere in
the world won't mis-dial or mis-think the number as in Egypt, country
code +20.

Businesses in Fort Worth TX who display their number simply as
817-NXX-XXXX, might be misconceived by callers from elsewhere in the
world, who might mis-dial the call to Japan, country code +81.

While I do live in North America, and the vast majority of my
telephone calling and business is strictly within the US and Canada, I
do realize that there is the rest of the world, outside of the North
American Numbering Plan, and that we are now truly in a global economy
and global communications network, telephone, internet, media, etc.

The "leading '1'" in front of a ten-digit North American number is NOT
irrelevant, but also conveys the *country code* of the NANP,
particularly for those who live outside of the US/Canada and are
trying to call that US/Canadian telephone number.

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