The Android Contact List (People App) on my phone has numbers from my contacts entered as it is needed to call them from my home country (Canada):

  • Local numbers entered with 10 digits, including now compulsory area code: 514-222-1111
  • Domestic long distance prepended with long distance prefix: 1-416-555-3333
  • International numbers entered with international dialing prefix, country-code, local area code, followed by the number: 011-52-664-555-2222

With a SIM from abroad (Currently Ecuador), the numbers need to be edited:

  • International dialing prefix and country code must be added to local home numbers. Same for previously domestic long-distance numbers.
  • International dialing prefix must be changed for international numbers.

Is there an efficient way to deal with this? Could there be place-holders to put in the number so that it would omit the country code and dialing prefix if needed? Maybe an Android Appp which could do the rewrite automatically based on the current country?

  • "International dialing prefix must be changed for international numbers." - are you sure about that? Isn't the international form with the country code always the same? If it weren't, indicating phone numbers with country codes for international reachability, as happens on business websites, would seem quite pointless. But then, you mention an "international dialing prefix", which might indeed be something specific to your phone provider. Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 16:41
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    Was about to write "why don't you simple store any number in the international format" since it works this way for me in EU but apparently the Canadian system is more complex: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telephone_numbers_in_Canada and I have thus added the Canada tag to your question, together with a +1.
    – mts
    Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 16:47
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    @O.R.Mapper Country codes are standardized but the dialing prefix you put in front of the number can differ. Nowadays, that's not so relevant anymore as mobile phones can handle the "+" automatically (before that "+" simply was a stand-in for whatever dialing prefix was used locally, e.g. "00")
    – Relaxed
    Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 17:18
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    @mts I don't see from that link why just using +CC for all numbers won't work in Canada?
    – Berwyn
    Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 17:18
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    @mts, That page is describing calling from a landline; my UK landline doesn't have a '+' either, I think. Almost all Canadian mobile phones work exactly like European mobile phones. The exception was CDMA phones, which had no '+', but Canadian mobile carriers for the most part stopped selling those quite a few years ago.
    – user38879
    Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 21:41

1 Answer 1


Even if many countries switched to 00 (which is apparently recommended by the ITU) in the last decades, the international dialing prefix can indeed be different. Traditionally, business numbers were written as + [country code] [number without the long distance prefix] and it was up to the caller to substitute the right call prefix. Fortunately, modern mobile phones now take care of this for you. So you should be able to use the full number with + directly in your contact list and let the phone handle those numbers correctly wherever you are.

I always record all numbers that way, with country code and area prefix included - including local numbers and other numbers in my current country of residence - and never had any trouble - whether difficulties reaching a specific number or unexpected charges. I even moved to another country with my whole contact list without needing to update anything to use my new number/SIM card.

Note that I did not personally test this solution in either Canada or Ecuador.

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    I have tested this in Canada and it works for all the phones I've tried. You should also be able to tell the phone that numbers without a + prefix are to be treated as Canadian. (And Canada has exactly the same number system as the US). Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 17:19
  • Sounds reasonable but I'm not entire clear on the details. Are you saying that if I prepend +1 as in +1 514-555-1111 it should call Canada regardless of where I am, and correspondingly +593 099-999-9999 would call Ecuador from Ecuador or from Canada?
    – Itai
    Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 18:09
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    Great. What I discovered is that you have to drop the domestic long distance code though. So far, it's working with all the numbers I tried, both Ecuador and Canana (via voip). Will try again as I head out to Peru and Brazil soon.
    – Itai
    Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 18:49
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    I use the same tactic, and the only place where it didn't work was Argentina. I don't exactly remember the specifics, but I even needed to use a different format for voice calls and a different for text messages. Really weird. Maybe someone from Argentina can follow up.
    – lowtoxin
    Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 22:13
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    I also use the +[country code][city/area][phone no] system for all numbers in my phone. Works in Canada, USA, UK, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Norway and I'm certain in many other countries too. When you dial locally, no long distance charges are incurred.
    – EBlake
    Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 3:46

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