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On my phone my number looks something like +19172222222 but I think people from different countries have their own codes right? Should I leave out the + and 1 when handing them my number so they don't get confused? Is different when people dial me from foreign mobiles as oppose to landlines? In what form should I give my number?

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3 Answers 3

+1 917-222-2222 is the best form. You may use spaces instead of the hyphens. The form is:

  • First group: a plus sign followed by your region's international calling code.
  • Second group: your area code (which locals would know to omit).
  • The rest: what everyone needs to type.

The important part for international callers is to have the country prefix first, starting with the + symbol. Residents of your country or region should know to drop the international prefix and dial their country's long distance prefix instead — but in North America the two are the same.

For, say, a UK number, you would write +44 123-456-7890, where 44 is the international prefix for the UK, 123 is the area code (of variable length in the UK) and the rest is the local number. UK locals would know to dial 01234567890 (0 being the long distance prefix), and locals of the 123 area would know to dial 4567890. If you want to make sure nationals aren't confused about the international prefix, you can present your number in two ways:

UK national: (0123) 456 7890
International: +44 123 456 7890

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@LessPop_MoreFizz I meant to split, of course (I explain why you should split it), but there was a typo. Indeed it doesn't really matter in the US (or more generally in the NANP), but it matters (almost) everywhere else. –  Gilles Dec 12 '13 at 1:49
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What I think is most important to say that specially cellphones cannot do anything wrong with the +... format. It might confuse people, but as long as you tell them to use exactly that number, they will reach you, no matter where they are or you are. –  uncovery Dec 12 '13 at 7:16
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The form you've written is the least confusing.

+1 is the country code for the US and 917 is your area code in NYC, but leaving them out accomplishes nothing. Locals will know which ones they can drop (actually, in your case none, because NYC uses 10 digit dialing to increase available numbers).

It is impossible to screw up a phone number by providing too much information.

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Also, the + symbol indicates to cellular networks that the number starts with the country code. This means that instead of having to know the prefix for international dialing, you can always dial a full number starting with + and any cell phone in the world will be able to make the connection. The + key is usually hidden behind some sort of mechanism like holding down the zero key for a couple seconds. –  gabedwrds Dec 12 '13 at 2:22
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I disagree. When helping travellers call home from Australia where I work in hospitality most people are confused because they have too much information. Specifically they have the prefix for international dialling from their own country instead of the +, or they're calling from a non-mobile phone that doesn't have a + key. These people mostly conflate the international prefix and the country code, or assume every country has the same international prefix. For much of Europe the international prefix is 00 but in Australia it is 0011. –  hippietrail Dec 12 '13 at 2:50
    
So, it's better to omit the + for foreigners? –  verve Dec 12 '13 at 14:37
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@verve No, that would be very confusing. What you should omit are prefixes like “00” that are used on landlines because they vary depending on the country (that's the superfluous information that's confusing people which led hippietrail to disagree with the notion that it's impossible to provide too much info). The ‘+’ sign can be thought of as a placeholder for these prefixes. For example, at my current location, to reach the number you gave, I could dial 0019172222222. –  Relaxed Dec 12 '13 at 17:06
    
You can give people more information by explaining to them that there is both an international prefix and a country code, that the former varies between countries you call from and the latter varies between countries you call to and that the former can be replaced by +, but only on mobile phones. But that's too much for a lot of people to take in. It's too much technical mumbo jumbo for them. –  hippietrail Dec 13 '13 at 3:16
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As others have said, a number with a “+” in front is probably the best form and should always work (certainly on mobile phones).

Many people will have numbers in their directories that might not work outside of their home country like “01528889” or “0678294000” (those would be valid numbers in the Netherlands for example) or “0033145900087” (this is a valid French number, with country code, as dialed on a Dutch phone but “00” might not work everywhere). Those are the ones that need to be modified to avoid confusing people.

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