“One of the questions that our customers or potential customers ask most frequently when they call us is ‘what is the difference between 0203, 0207 and 0208 numbers?’” says DBS Director David Clarke. “Well, firstly, there is no such thing as an 0203, 0207 or 0208 area code. The only area code for London is the 020 area code. 020 is the London phone number. 0203, 0207 and 0208 numbers are simply the result of taking the 020 and adding the first digit of the next part of the number to it. The next part of the number only starts with either 3, 7 or 8. It is a common misconception to think otherwise.
“The London 020 number being split into sub divisions is as a result of historical differences. Numbers starting with 01 were London numbers until 1990. The 01 was followed by three digits, and these three digits corresponded to the area that the phone number was for. In 1990, 01 was split into two different numbers, 071 for Inner London, and 081 for Outer London. In 1995 this became 0171 for Inner London and 0181 for Outer London. In 2000, this was replaced with 020. However, for previous 0171 numbers the first digit of the next part of the number was 7, and for previous 0181 numbers, the next part of the number was 8, so in effect 0207 numbers became the number for Inner London, and 0208 for Outer London.
“As time has gone on, the distinction between the two has blurred, and the introduction of 020 followed by 3 (commonly referred to as 0203) numbers has further blurred that. 0203 numbers cover all of London, and are not specific to any sub division. When people with 0207 or 0208 numbers moved house they kept their numbers, so now there is quite a mix.
“Therefore, when people ask us what the difference is, in short, there is none. It does not matter whether the first digit of the second part of the number is a 3, a 7 or an 8 now, as 020 is the number for London and Greater London, and the second part of the number no longer carries any form of stigma. It does not matter”.
DBS Telecoms sell a wide range of virtual London phone numbers which can be pointed to both landlines and mobile phones. Their London phone numbers are also available as fax-to-email numbers and come with a wide variety of handy additional features.