Here's the situtation: there's a team meeting coming, situated in the US. I'm from Brazil and wish to call a coworker from Pakistan arriving there.

My number is +55... and his is +92... Is there any difference when calling his number on my cellphone if we're both in the US?
Or can I just dial +92... as usual?

up vote 73 down vote accepted
+500

Or can I just dial +92... as usual?

Yes. Although it is the + prefix that's the "magic" here. It is short hand for the outbound international dialling code for whatever country you are dialling from. This is what allows you to use the same (international format) phone number anywhere in the world.

If you are calling from the US then the phone network substitutes + with 011 (the international dial-out code for the US), or if calling from the UK, 00. Etc.

So, the alternative, if dialing from the US would be to dial 01192... - but this will only work in the US (or any country that uses the same dial-out code).

Reference:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_international_call_prefixes

  • 2
    "substitutes + for 011" I believe you mean "substitutes 011 for +" – Acccumulation Jun 14 at 22:05
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    Well I always thought + meant 00 (yes I live in Europe). This is a very informative answer. – JoErNanO Jun 14 at 23:21
  • @Acccumulation Thanks, yes, that is what I meant! Poor grammar on my part - I probably intended to use "with", as in "substitutes + with 011". I've updated my answer. – MrWhite Jun 15 at 1:57
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    A corollary of this is that all of your numbers should begin with the + prefix and include the country/area codes... – Mehrdad Jun 15 at 20:24
  • If I call a number from Brazil while I'm in Brazil myself all with a local Brazilian SIM, will this change the call's routing or anything else? Otherwise I'll just do as @Mehrdad says and keep all my numbers with + prefix included – Délisson Junio Jun 17 at 13:24

You can just dial as usual, just like you would to call him at home, and the call will go through. But you'll be charged for an international call, however your cell phone plan handles international roaming.

You may find it makes more sense to plan in advance to use Skype, WhatsApp, WeChat, etc..., which will use only your data connection (or wifi) and not billable minutes from calls. You'd want to check with your carrier to determine your rates for roaming in the US and/or consider obtaining a SIM card from a US carrier, depending on the costs and your expected usage.

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    Depending on your plan and data roaming conditions, using skype could cost more than call minutes. – PlasmaHH Jun 14 at 8:29

Yes, you should dial +92, as usual.

  • 2
    As pointed out by MrWhite, the key difference from country to country is what "+" means. – Michael Seifert Jun 14 at 14:35
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    @MichaelSeifert But, really, the key is that the phone knows what "+" means so you don't have to. – David Richerby Jun 14 at 17:40
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    Numbers with "+" are identical everywhere in the world. No "call xxx if you are in the USA, yyy if you are in Britain etc.". Your phone knows where it is and will dial the right number. – gnasher729 Jun 14 at 22:31
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    @DavidRicherby: That's probably true of most mobile phones, but if you happen to be calling from a landline you'll need to know what "+" means in the country you're calling from. – Michael Seifert Jun 15 at 17:34
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    @MichaelSeifert Sure, but the question is about cellphones. – David Richerby Jun 15 at 17:35

If we're talking cellphones here, just get into the habit of always storing the proper international prefix with the number. It will not cost you extra to dial such a number as a local call, and if you happen to be elsewhere the number will still work as is.

For instance - I'm danish and all my local danish numbers are prefixed with +45. They work perfectly both within Denmark and when I'm elsewhere.

  • This doesn't quite directly answer the question. One could guess that the fact that your +45 phone allows you to dial other +45 numbers while abroad means that a +55 phone could dial a +92 number while abroad, but one could also equally wonder whether or not that only works because you are dialling the same code that your phone is from. It would be better to state the general rule explicitly as the opening point of your answer, before giving out general advice on forming habits etc (which are useful, but off-topic). – JBentley Jun 15 at 14:16
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    @JBentley No, I think you've misunderstood. The answer states that, within Denmark, dialling +45 123456789 has exactly the same effect as dialling 123456789. The conclusion is that you should store all phone numbers using the full international dialing scheme because it causes no harm when you're at home, and means you dial the right number when you're abroad. However, I'm not sure that really answers the question, either. – David Richerby Jun 15 at 16:51
  • @DavidRicherby My comment was referring mainly to the second paragraph, which is saying (in addition to your point) that dialling a local Danish number stored with a +45 prefix works "when I'm elsewhere" i.e. abroad. But the OP or others could reasonably think this works simply because the phone itself has a +45 SIM card in it. You can't necessarily conclude from that that a Pakistan number stored with a +92 prefix will work from a +45 SIM being operated abroad. Of course as we know it will work fine, because it doesn't matter where the SIM is from if you're using such a prefix. – JBentley Jun 15 at 19:07

One has to keep two subjects separately here:

  • Dialling properly to make sure the call goes through.
  • How much the call will cost you.

While the subject of call cost would possibly be an interesting one (though these days less than 2-3 years ago) somethink different is important to make sure you will be dialling the correct number.

In case the person you are calling has provided their number properly in international format, i.e. +yyyxxxxx, you won't face a problem. But in case you see a phone number written in national format (i.e. without a country code) and you found out the country code and want to build the international format youself, be careful.

Many countries (my experience is from Europa mostly) use geographic area codes for landlines and kind of "virtual" area codes for mobiles and you can dial from landline to landline within the same area code without having to dial the area code.

The interesting difference between some countries comes with the leading zero in front of the area code. In some countries, you have to omit it, in others not.

Example from Germany:

Landline in Berlin: 030 1234546 International format would be +49 30 123456 (you drop the 0)

Example from Italy:

Landline in Bolzano: 0471 123456 International format would be +39 0471 123456 (you keep the 0)

The rule of thumb is: More often than not, you drop the 0. Just in case you find out it doesn't work, just insert it.

Let me clear up the source of the confusion. As a long time VoIP/WiFi user, my phone is always at home. Meaning I dial every number, local or international the same no matter where I am. It's been so long, yes, I forgot about the vagaries of the legacy system. Oops!

In this case, even if OP is using a VoIP option, OP is not in Brazil or Pakistan so he ze must dial the full number with country code. That they are both in the US doesn't matter, ze's still dialing Pakistan from hir Brazilian number.

Meaning, if your Brazilian SIM is installed, you dial just as you would if you were in Brazil. Where you are physically doesn't matter, even if you're in the same country you're dialing*.

  • Yes, that circumstance is WiFi/IP Calling. If your phone is setup for WiFi calling, it thinks it's at home, no matter where you are. You still dial the international call as usual but the 'local' dialing is different.

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