Approximate coverage of 020 dialling code (in red), compared to Greater London boundary (black line)

020 is the dialling code for London in the United Kingdom.



The code serves an area similar to Greater London, formerly known as the London Director Area. Some outer districts are covered by sections of adjacent codes and in some places the 020 code extends beyond the Greater London boundary. The code covers an area larger than the London post town.

Areas completely covered by 020

The City of London and the London Boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Brent, Camden, Ealing, Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Harrow, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston upon Thames, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Newham, Redbridge, Richmond upon Thames, Southwark, Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Wandsworth and the City of Westminster are more or less completely covered by the code.

Areas in Greater London covered by other codes

Area code Main exchange London boroughs partly covered
01322 Dartford Bexley
01689 Orpington † Bromley and Croydon
01737 Redhill Croydon
01708 Romford † Havering
01753 Slough Hillingdon
01895 Uxbridge † Hillingdon
01923 Watford Hillingdon
01959 Westerham Bromley
01992 Waltham Cross Enfield

† = located within Greater London

Areas outside Greater London covered by 020

County District Places
Essex Epping Forest Loughton, Chigwell, Buckhurst Hill, Sewardstone
Hertfordshire Hertsmere Elstree, Borehamwood, Bushey
Three Rivers Carpenders Park, South Oxhey
Surrey Elmbridge Molesey, Thames Ditton
Epsom and Ewell Ewell
Tandridge Whyteleafe

Sub ranges

With the introduction of the (020) area code, with the BigNumber changes, telephone numbers were changed from 7-digits (xxx xxxx) to 8-digits (xxxx xxxx) with the following sub-ranges:

0xxx xxxx
1xxx xxxx
national dialling only, not issued locally
2xxx xxxx future use
3xxx xxxx new local numbers created by move to 020 (currently issued)
4xxx xxxx
5xxx xxxx
6xxx xxxx
future use
70xx xxxx
71xx xxxx
new local numbers created by move to 020
72xx xxxx
73xx xxxx
74xx xxxx
75xx xxxx
76xx xxxx
77xx xxxx
78xx xxxx
79xx xxxx
local numbers transferred from 0171
80xx xxxx
81xx xxxx
new local numbers created by move to 020
82xx xxxx
83xx xxxx
84xx xxxx
85xx xxxx
86xx xxxx
87xx xxxx
88xx xxxx
89xx xxxx
local numbers transferred from 0181
9xxx xxxx future use


59% of numbers within the 020 code are allocated to BT.[1]


From 1922 the three-character digit sub-codes each corresponded to one area and were represented by letters by way of a mnemonic. The first exchange to become part of the London Director telephone system was Holborn in 1927.[2] The numbers were written as ABBey 1234 and WIMbledon 1234. The system of mnemonics was withdrawn with the change to all-figure dialling in 1966.

The STD code 01 was introduced in 1959, at the introduction of Subscriber Trunk Dialling, although the service was only introduced at local exchanges between 1961, and 1964. For the next 30 years 01 became synonymous with the capital, particularly through phone numbers given by radio and television programmes.

History of London STD codes.svg

Until May 1990 the 01 code covered the same area as the current 020 code, and the three digits after the code indicated the geographic area where the number was located, e.g. 01-222 1234 was in Westminster, 01-946 1234 in Wimbledon, successors to the ABBey and WIMbledon examples above. More than one sub-code was usually overlaid for each area so all Wimbledon numbers did not necessarily begin 01-946. In May 1990, 01 was divided between 071 (Inner London) and 081 (Outer London), changed again in 1995 to 0171 and 0181. 020 replaced 0171 and 0181 on 22 April 2000 after a period of dual-running that began 1 June 1999: 0171-xxx xxxx numbers changed to (020) 7xxx xxxx, and 0181-xxx xxxx changed to (020) 8xxx xxxx.

As a result of the many changes, there is now a widespread belief that 0207 and 0208 are the dialling codes for parts of London. In fact, this belief is false[3] — see UK telephone code misconceptions. Even a decade later, many in the media continue to use this incorrect number formatting, and hence are continuing to compound Londoners' confusion on a daily basis, despite clear advice from British Telecom.[4]

See also

  • List of telephone exchanges in London


  1. ^ Parliamentary Debates, House of Lords, 28 March 2006.
  2. ^ Chapuis & Joel (2003). 100 Years of Telephone Switching: Manual and Electromechanical Switching (1878–1960's) Pt. 1. IOS Press. 
  3. ^ "Ofcom | Telephone numbers – the facts and figures | (Boxout) Is it (020) 7 or 0207?". Office of Communications. Archived from the original on 2009-09-05. http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consumer/2009/08/phone-numbers/#video. Retrieved 2009-09-03. 
  4. ^ Indicated on the BT website here.

External links

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