Calling a German number regionally or internationally can be tricky if you are not familiar with the dialing system. This is relevant, whether you are wondering how to store phone numbers correctly in your contact list, or you abroad trying to call a friend or institution in Germany and wondering about the correct area codes.
To call a German phone number, you need to know a few things. Learn about the number format and the specifics of the different area codes here. Sometimes there is a difference between landline and cell phone numbers, which I will also explain below.
How to Dial a German Number?
For many foreigners, the German dialing code system is quite confusing at first.
Whether a call is made on vacation, on a business trip to your home country, or from home to abroad – there are a few details to keep in mind when entering the phone number, both for roaming and for international calls.
Codes and Prefixes
A German phone number is made up of 3 elements:
|country code||area/city code||the rest of the phone number|
Let’s say you want to call a friend in Berlin and you know their phone number is 123456789.
- If you are also in Berlin, you dial 123456789 and are connected with our friend.
- If you are in Germany, but outside of Berlin, and calling from a landline, you need to dial the Berlin area code first – which is 030. So you dial 030 123456789 to be connected.
- If you are outside of Germany or calling from a mobile phone, you will also need to dial the country code for Germany, which is +49 or 0049. Remember to dial the respective area code without the zero (030 becomes 30). So your friend’s phone number is now 0049 30 123456789.
Here is a list of the area codes in Germany – click on the map to zoom into the areas and towns.
The same rules for dialing a German number apply if you use a foreign telephone company in Germany and your own telephone number is therefore not a German one. In this case, the country code for your own number is different:
- +1 for USA and Canada
- +27 for South Africa
- +44 for the UK
- +33 for France
- +34 for Spain
In order to be able to use the phone numbers stored in your cell phone directory from anywhere in the world, you should always store them in the international format.
Note that there is no standard formatting of telephone numbers in Germany. Some typical spellings are as follows:
+49-30-123 4567 -89*
+49 (30) 123 4567 -89
0049 (0) 30 123 456 789
(030) 1234 567 -89
030 / 12345 6789
* The minus sign, in this case, indicates a direct dialing number (when calling companies or institutions).
Landline or Mobile?
There is an easy way of telling a landline from a cell phone number.
Landline numbers have a three- to five-digit area code and a three- to eight-digit actual number. The shorter the area code, the larger the city.
For cell phone numbers, instead of an area code, there is a four- or five-digit network code that begins with 015x, 016x or 017x. The rest of the number always has seven digits.
So when you dial a German mobile number, it will look something like this: 0176 1234567 or +49 176 1234567.
German Number Country Code
The country code for Germany is +49. You can also replace the “+” with two zeros as in “00”.
Keep in mind that not all countries adhere to this system so to be on the safe side, store and dial phone numbers using the + symbol instead of 00.
3 Things to Know about German Numbers
1. Emergency Lines
Call 110 if you need the help of the police because you feel under threat, are in danger, or are witnessing a crime that requires police intervention.
112: First Aid, Fire, and Rescue Services
Dial 112 in case of accidents, fires, or if someone is in an acute, potentially even life-threatening emergency. For example serious injuries or burns, unconsciousness, signs of a stroke or heart attack, allergic shock, etc.
112 can be reached free of charge throughout Europe, even from a cell phone, even without a mobile network.
Check your phone settings – Most smartphones have built-in emergency call settings that you can adjust to the country you are in. To make it easier to connect in an emergency, there is often a method where you press a button instead of dialing. For example, if you press the power button several times in a row, you can call a pre-determined emergency number and even send text messages to a specific emergency contact from your list.
116117: Emergency Medical Services
In Germany, the additional emergency number 116117 connects to the medical on-call service, free of charge nationwide, also from the mobile network. It is the right number to call when someone needs immediate medical help but the situation is not life-threatening. For example, when someone is too ill to get to a doctor’s office, the medical service can send an on-call doctor to their home.
Poison Control Centers
Anyone who is worried about having poisoned themselves (or their pet) or needs information in advance, for example about poisonous plants, can call one of the poison control centers. You can find a list of regional poison control centers here. In the case of life-threatening poisoning, it is better to dial 112 immediately.
Here is a longer list of emergency numbers and helplines in Berlin – including crisis services, water/gas/electricity fault services, German Red Cross, lost and found offices, and more.
2. Automated announcements
If you call a number and hear one of the following statements, this is what they mean:
- Kein Anschluss unter dieser Nummber: No connection under this number, this number does not exist.
- Dieser Anschluss ist vorübergehend nicht erreichbar: The number exists, but it doesn’t have service or there is a technical fault. Try again later.
- Diese Rufnummer hat sich geändert: The number has changed. You usually hear this when you call companies – along with the changed number to note down.
- Bitte warten Sie, sie werden in Kürze verbunden: Like the previous example, but the call is forwarded automatically, without having to dial the changed number yourself.
- Bitte versuchen Sie es später noch einmal: The number you are calling is possibly busy, there is no service, or you are calling outside of office hours.
3. Special Service Prefixes
In addition to the country and area codes and the prefixes of the mobile carriers, there are also nationwide prefixes for connecting to special services. Calling these numbers can be quite expensive, even if you have a flat-rate plan. Here are some examples:
- 0800 – a free phone service number (used for hotlines) – always free of charge!
- 0180 – service number for companies with fixed prices that are annouced to you at the beginning of the call. Being on hold is free of charge.
- 0137 – used by TV and radio shows for polls, voting or contests. Fixed price is annouced and starts at 50 cents.
- 0900 – information services, erotic entertainment, and other paid services. The charge is freely selectable and can be as high as 25 euros per minute.
Beware that the cost of phone services will vary greatly depending on where you’re calling from, your phone plan, and the prefixes used.
Most German phone carriers offer flat-rate calling plans for landlines and their own mobile network. Special contract features are plans for international phone calls, roaming, or unlimited text messages.
Landlines are generally cheaper and less of a hassle. Therefore, if you don’t have a landline, you can look for mobile providers that offer what’s known as the Homezone. This gives you a virtual landline with the relevant area code (e.g., 030 for Berlin) in addition to our cell phone number. Callers are then forwarded to your cell phone, but pay charges just like when calling a landline. Normally, you have to be within a certain radius of our home address for this to work.