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Wikitravel talk:Phone numbers

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We haven't been 100% consistent on phone numbers in the past. Although most of the listings formats say to leave off the area code, some discussion pages have talked about leaving them in.

I started this page to document current usage, and to provide a place to discuss the format. My feeling is that since prefixes are so variable (you need to dial the country code if you're out of country, but not if you're in country, and sometimes you need to dial the area code, and sometimes you don't...), it's easier to just have the local dialing info, and the area code listing somewhere, and let travellers figure out their own needs for dialing. --Evan 17:32, 19 Aug 2004 (EDT)

Country Code One?[edit]

What is the correct way to do phone numbers within "country code one" (USA, Canada, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Dominican Republic, etc?). I've seen them written the following ways:

  • (XXX) XXX-XXXX
  • (XXX)XXX-XXXX
  • XXX-XXX-XXXX
  • +1 XXX-XXX-XXXX

I propose the following rules:

  • For USA and Canada, use (XXX) XXX-XXXX regardless of whether the region being discussed is a single area code or not. In the USA/Canada, area codes change all the time
  • For countries within +1 that have single area codes or share area codes (Bermuda, Dominican Republic etc), simply use XXX-XXXX. --Bletch 14:12, 9 Sep 2004 (EDT)
I disagree. I don't see a good reason to write the same area code 50 times in the same guide. How about we just put the area code in one place ("Contact") and stick with the (very simple) rule of just writing phone numbers as they would be dialed locally? --Evan 17:54, 9 Sep 2004 (EDT)
Fair enough. So in cases in the USA/Canada where 10 digit dialing is the norm (which is pretty much every metropolitan area with greater than one million people), what format should we use? (XXX)XXX-XXXX, (XXX) XXX-XXXX or XXX-XXX-XXXX? --Bletch 22:03, 9 Sep 2004 (EDT)

Well, i live in the Dominican Republic, and we no longer have to write phone numbers as a 7-digit format, because this year a new area code (the actual area code is 809, the new code is 829) will be introduced in an overlay style (809/829)(actually we're in the transition period, when it's still permisive the 7-digit dialing, that ends on August 1st., 2005.), so the number format for calls within the Dominican Republic will be XXX-XXX-XXXX.

Newer phones[edit]

You know, newer phones, like almost all mobile phones can take the whole number including the country code and then figure out what to dial based on where they are calling from. This is my main reasoning for always putting the country code in the listing: It's exactly what you would dial into a mobile no matter where you are in the world. -- Mark 14:17, 9 Sep 2004 (EDT)

Counterpoint...[edit]

The reason that I lean against that idea is for the following reasons:

  • As I recall, pretty much all guidebooks (LP, Fodors) that I've personally used omit the country code when listing restaurants and lodging, even when those guide books span multiple countries.
  • In the cases of the USA and Canada, for whatever reason it seems that half of everyone is not familiar with the +XX syntax or even familiar with how to make international calls at all. (Granted, the (XXX) XXX-XXXX syntax may have the convese problem outside +1, which is a case for XXX-XXX-XXXX) -- Bletch 15:02, 9 Sep 2004 (EDT)


Countercounterpoint: This July I spent some time with a LP in Dublin figuring out how to dial the numbers for hotels on my cell-phone. The information was in there but not easy to extract. Do you dial the country code? is there a city code? What about that leading zero.
I would favor the longest number you can dial from a cellphone, payphone, and a normal phone. After some time in an area you might start skipping unecessary digits. Of course I live in DK where all numbers are 8 digits. -- elgaard 20:15, 2004 Sep 10 (EDT)

North American Phone Numbers[edit]

There has been some discussion on how to format North American (region 1) telephone numbers in places which have 10 digit dialling.

The general rule of thumb Wikitravel uses is that the number that should be listed is the number a visitor needs to dial if they are already in the city. My understanding of 10 digit dialling is that you never just dial the number without the area code (ie. XXX-XXXX). To me (as a non-US resident) using a bracketed form in that case seems confusing, as that means to me "don't dial the bit in brackets if you are in the same city". All of this leads me to conclude that:

  • If the number is in a 10 digit dialling area, numbers should be listed in the format XXX-XXX-XXXX and the contact section should explain how to dial these numbers from outside the city (prefix with 1?) and outside region 1 (prefix with +1 where + represents the diallers international access code).
  • If the number is not in a 10 digit dialling area, numbers should be listed in the format XXX-XXXX and the contact section should explain how to dial these numbers from outside the city (prefix with 1-XXX?) and outside region 1 (prefix with +1-XXX where + represents the diallers international access code).
  • By implication, US or other region 1 numbers should never be listed in the (XXX) XXX-XXXX or (XXX)XXX-XXXX formats.

--Chris j wood 10:57, 10 Sep 2004 (EDT)

Chris, you've based this on the very incorrect assumption that we always dial all 10 digits of a 10-digit number. In fact, it's by far the norm to just dial the 7 digits without the area code. Only in some pathological cases (like very dense cities, with a lot of area codes) is it necessary to always dial the full 10 digits.
So, I think XXX-XXXX is probably fine for most numbers. There are a lot of differing formats for adding the area code at the beginning; I think (XXX) XXX-XXXX is probably the most common, but I could be wrong. (I personally prefer XXX-XXX-XXXX, btw).
I'll add info on US numbers with area codes on the page itself. --Evan 12:10, 10 Sep 2004 (EDT)


You are of course right that most people here dial the 7-digit number when they are within the same area code. But it's worth noting that the 10-digit number always works -- even if you are in the same area code.
Secondly, I'd like to put myself into the always write the 10-digit number camp. If you put only seven digits in, you always have to look at Contact first to see which area code is needed before you can usefully use the phone number. That's more work than should be required.
(And yes, this is a bit hypocritical of me since I also think we should leave out the international prefix except on the main pages for Canada and United States :-) -- Colin 13:48, 10 Sep 2004 (EDT)


I personally favor 10 digit, simply because while ten digit dialing is a necessity for only a few places, these few places disproportionately include some of the most significant destinations in North America. Additionally, the rules for when you have to do 10 digit dialing are often quite complicated to locals, to say nothing for tourists. -- Bletch 16:10, 10 Sep 2004 (EDT)
I live in Charlotte, which is in 704 and 980. I have to dial 704 even on local calls, and AFAIK people in Weddington do the same. I can also call some numbers in South Carolina (803) without the 1 prefix. It used to be, before 980 was introduced, that some numbers in 704 I had to dial with 1, but not 704; however, there's a station code 408, which is also an area code, so that can't work any more, 980 or not. -phma 20:02, 10 Sep 2004 (EDT)

More on machine readable numbers[edit]

The more I think about this question the more firmly I start to feel about always listing the whole number in the format which a mobile phone can parse. I have a couple of reasons for thinking this way:

  • When you put the whole number down, including the country code with a + sign in front it's easy for a machine to parse. I tried this just now while browsing a couple of Wikitravel pages with my phone, and it works. The phone recognizes the numbers which start with a + and the country code, and can dial them.
My thoughts exactly. When travelling, you'll be mostly accessing wikitravel with your mobile, pda etc. (travel light) and it's neat when you can dial the number with a single click wihout worring where you're calling from. Therefore I'd vote for "+" prefixed numbers (not "+1" prefixed :-).
Wojsyl 17:26, 1 Jan 2005 (EST)
  • Many pay phones, at least in the parts of Europe I've been to now can handle the whole thing, even for local calls, and charge correctly. This means less work for the traveler in a phone booth in a train station in a new country they have just arrived in.
  • Often the numbers which are most crucial will be those associated with sleep listings. These are the very numbers most likely to be dialed from out of town, or out of country.
  • Is it really that much work to type an extra couple of characters with phone numbers? I do a lot of filling in of details like addresses and phone numbers and I don't feel it's that onerous.
  • I think most north-americans travelling in North America are perfectly capable of figuring out that something with the format of +1 555 555 5555 is a phone number regardless of any intervening punctuation or lack thereof.
  • If a mobile phone can parse the number then so can MediaWiki. If we really really want shorter phone numbers we can have the software take care of that for us, but that only works if we start with the whole thing.
  • How often anymore do you come across a situation where you can't dial the whole thing, including the country code? What with more and more devices supporting the +country_code area_code etc etc etc format don't we stand a fair chance of having to go this way at some point down the line anyhow? While it would be easy to write a script to lop off the front part of a complete phone number it would be a real total PITA to write a script to rebuild all of the phone numbers on the site from short numbers plus some numbers and text found on the appropriate contry page. How is that script supposed to figure out the right country page anyhow?

Anyhow, I don't feel really strongly about this, but I guess my thinking on the issue is a little different from the other views being expressed, so I thought you would like to read it. Meanwhile, I'm going to keep doing the country codes, for exactly the reason that if we decide we absolutely standardize on the shortest possible number rather than the complete number I can do that with a script. I feel really sorry for the person who gets to script it the other way someday though. -- Mark 07:28, 11 Sep 2004 (EDT)

Having read the comments by Evan, Colin, Bletch and phma to my suggestion above, I think I have to reluctantly agree with Mark. As a frequent visitor to the US (albeit mostly to major metropolitan areas and hence 10-digit dialing areas) I thought I understood the US dialling system. It is clear from the above that I was misleading myself. I'm left completely unsure now how US dialling codes do work, and how to phone an arbitrary number from an arbitrary place. If I'm in that position, it must be much worse for a first time visitor. I think if we go for the +1-xxx-xxx-xxxx format everywhere then at least it is easier to explain the rules on what you have to dial where. And as Mark points out, it is also easier to parse information out in a script than it is to add it in. -- Chris j wood 15:31, 11 Sep 2004 (EDT)
Yet another digression by me; it would be neat if Wikitravel was somehow aware of phone numbers under the hood. That way, we could say <phone>+1 555-555-5555</phone> (or some equivalent) and the phone number would be rendered in some special way, possibly preceeded by a phone icon or something. That way, if we ever wanted to change our phone number convention or add a prefix/suffix, we could change it and we would not have to update every single page.
No extra markup is needed if you standardize on the complete number lead with a "+". That's why my mobile phone can dial a number in Carbondale, or Lausanne from a wikitravel page, even though I'm in Paris. If the phone can do it so can PHP4.-- Mark 18:01, 11 Sep 2004 (EDT)
I'd just like to say I fully agree with Mark and Wojsyl here. Full international numbers are the only format a traveller can't screw up. I, too, have often ended up scratching my head on when presented with a local number in, say, Vientiane and having to figure out how I can make my mobile dial to it: if it's in international format, just punch in the whole thing and the network does the hard part. Jpatokal 11:52, 5 Mar 2005 (EST)

I think that this is going to fall afoul of Brazil, where you have to dial a carrier code on long-distance calls. If something in Belo Horizonte has the phone number 3355-4432, its international number is +55-31-3355-4432, but to dial it from Diamantina (if that's long distance) you'd dial 0-31-31-3355-4432, where the first 31 is Telemar, and in other parts of Brazil you may have to pick a different carrier. -phma 20:42, 24 February 2006 (EST)

Local numbers vs international[edit]

Does it really make sense to stick to the "local" phone number format policy today, when everyone travels with his mobile and uses international codes ? This is a guide for travellers, not locals after all. Wojsyl 14:36, 1 Jan 2005 (EST)

Though I am joining the debate at a rather late stage, I bring a New Zealand perspective, where we have 2 landline and 3 mobile telephone service providers who provide service nationwide and have been arguing over the national numbering plan for 15 years.
Although most numbers are going to be dialled locally, it should be possible to dial the national number with exactly the same result in most countries, these days. Besides you will probably need to do this if you have a mobile telephone, even if you are calling locally.
Thus there are then two possible alternatives.
Either give the international number in the form +CCC AAA DDD DDDD where + indicates the local international code access; CCC indicates the 1-3 digit country code; AAA indicates the national area code; and DDD DDDD indicates the 4 to 8 digit Directory Number.
Or give the national number in the form T -AAA- DDD DDDD where T indicates the local toll dialling code access; AAA indicates the national area code; and DDD DDDD indicates the 4 to 8 digit Directory Number.
The international alternative has the disadvantage that it cannot be dialled directly. International telephone calling generally does not have a consistent number format as different number sequences are needed to call the same number from different countries.
By "international" I meant "+" prefixed. This seems most universal as it can be dialed directly equally regardles where you're calling from (at least true for Europe). Do phones in NZ not recognize the "+" notation ?
Wojsyl 16:57, 1 Jan 2005 (EST)
Only the most recent mobile phones/devices can dial international numbers that way. BTW: New Zealand currently has 5 different mobile phone network technologies, AMPS, D-AMPS, GSM, CDMA, and 3G, as well as analog land lines and broadband, so I was aiming for the most practical alternative. The number one can dial from a plain ordinary telephone with just 10 digits on it. The NZ network is still backwards compatable and even a dial telephone still works on it!. (Some people still have them too!) -- Huttite 17:14, 1 Jan 2005 (EST)
I admit I'm biased towards European travels. Most of the mobiles bought in Europe are multisystem these days and work equally well in Europe, US, Japan etc. I'm not sure about the other way round, though. I've heard that US cellphones lag behind a bit but sooner or later they'll be all similar. Wojsyl 17:33, 1 Jan 2005 (EST)
Myself, I haven yet been to NZ or AU, but my phone works fine in the U.S., Europe, and China, meanwhile I've dialed all of the digits including the "+" in a number of countries. I feel that it's really easy to explain to people that you still have to start with a 0 and then whatever follows the country code in payphones in some countries, and to list all Wikitravel phone numbers as the entire number. -- Mark
I am comfortable with using the international + format if the dialling rules are explained in the contact section of the page, or on a travel topics page. Generally its a matter of dropping the country code and adding a toll access prefix. Doing it the other way around means that the potential exists to include the toll prefix in the number and dialling incorrectly. Besides, the + format is obviously a telephone number and follows an international standard. Also, those places with INMARSAT mobiles, like ships and very isolated places, only have an international number. -- Huttite 18:00, 1 Jan 2005 (EST)
The national alternative can be dialed directly from within the country and also has the advantage that toll-free and other service numbers, which often can only be dialled from within a country, can follow the same format. Generally, the national telephone number has the same dialling sequence from any telephone in country.
I would go for the national number format, unless there are pressing reasons to do otherwise, as most telephone number will be used in country. Although there is a good reason for giving the international number for accommodation places, this does not really apply where booking internationally is impractical, such as the local takeaway, who do not deliver around the world. International number conversions can then be explained on the country page. -- Huttite 16:01, 1 Jan 2005 (EST)

One trouble with international numbers is that it's not really deterministic how to produce the local number from them: in Australia, for example, you need to put a 0 in front when you remove the international prefix, but in the US you don't. Hypatia 23:20, 1 Jan 2005 (EST)

Yes, but you can usually call them locally without removing the international prefix. Whereas you cannot use the local number when calling internationally.
I understand that 0 or some other number is used in many countries as the toll access and only North America does not follow this practice. Also remember that there are a lot of toll free (800, etc.) numbers that cannot be dialled internationally but can be called within a country. My first preference is to list the dialling sequence that would be used to call a number nationally from a public telephone in country, with an explanation on how to convert the national number to international format. My second preference is the global (international) number representation, with an explanation how to use the global number in country. As a last resort giving the local directory number and letting the user sort out the mess. -- Huttite 00:44, 2 Jan 2005 (EST)
I call US 800 numbers from Denmarks, I have to pay a little, but I can call them. --elgaard 06:57, 6 May 2005 (EDT)

RFC 3966[edit]

We now have a RFC 3966 describing phone numbers. elgaard 22:49, 1 Jan 2005 (EST)

This is based on the older standard ITU-T E.164 for representing global telephone numbers in the PSTN. However, as the standard freely admits it does not address the issue of representing service numbers such as N11 and other numbers that are not able to be dialled internationally. -- Huttite 00:23, 2 Jan 2005 (EST)

So what do we agree on?[edit]

I updated the article to using "national numbers". That is as least closer to a middle ground here. I would still prefer international numbers as they can be dialed from a cell-phone. By far the most travel-related phone calls I make are from my cell phone, to hotels in another country, or to restaurants in another country. The few times I call a local number from a payphone, international numbers also works. Even when I make a local call on my IP-phone I have to use the international format--The phone company do not know what country I am in --elgaard 07:11, 6 May 2005 (EDT)

Erk -- not the best of compromises. I (still) think international numbers are the most user-friendly, computer/phone-friendly and least screwuppable form of presentation. I hate local dialing rules and missing area codes with a vengeance, and on Wikitravel a few extra digits isn't as big an issue as in a printed guide. Jpatokal 07:35, 6 May 2005 (EDT)
Per our goals and non-goals, Wikitravel is a printed, or at least printable, guide. --Evan 08:24, 6 May 2005 (EDT)
I think there might be a better compromise. Could we do something with formatting to show the whole number, but also show what part of the number isn't required for when dialing locally? Like, maybe, "+1 514 555-1000"? I agree that it's frustrating to try to figure out the country and city code for a place when you're calling from overseas, but it's also frustrating to figure out what parts to leave off when you're calling locally. Maybe we could do both. --Evan 08:35, 6 May 2005 (EDT)
Works for me. -- Mark 08:38, 6 May 2005 (EDT)
Me too --elgaard 10:34, 6 May 2005 (EDT)
You know what might be fun? If we used some kind of technology to enhance the presentation. Like, say, [+1-514-555-1212] would render to <a href="tel:+1-514-555-1212">''+1-514-'''''555-1212'''</a>. Once I get Turtle working, we could put metadata in an article to define the country code and/or local code, and if there's no +, the full number would be generated by magic. --Evan 08:58, 6 May 2005 (EDT)
Yes! I love the idea of treating a phone number as a URL. Cool. -- Mark 09:15, 6 May 2005 (EDT)
I would love that too. I could set up my browser to make an IP phone call when following the link. It should also be possible to download a country to a cell-phone, so we could browse it and call directly. Or we could make a script that would extract phonenumbers and generate a (name,number) list that could be added to the phonebook in a cell-phone. --elgaard 10:34, 6 May 2005 (EDT)
Me too. (Gasp! Have we captured that elusive beast known as a clear consensus?)
I'd also like to extend 'automated formatting' of this style to, more or less, all systematic entries so they look consistent across the guide. But that's a topic for another page =) Jpatokal 10:59, 6 May 2005 (EDT)
I make another try at updating the page while we seem to have a consensus.--elgaard 18:07, 11 May 2005 (EDT)
I hate being a Negative Nancy, and I think it's a good idea to use formatting to show the international number, but I'm not entirely thrilled with the specific formatting we have (I proposed it as an illustration of the concept). In most listings, only the name of the restaurant/bar/site/hotel/whatever is bolded. Having the local part of the phone number bolded is going to look weird, since we use boldface to call out important topics, and phone numbers just aren't the focus of a listing in the way the name is. If there's no better formatting, I'd suggest +1 514 555-1212. --Evan 20:31, 11 May 2005 (EDT)
Agree with Evan and edited as such. But I think this should just be a stopgap until we do have automated formatting magic in place. Jpatokal 22:01, 11 May 2005 (EDT)
I'll get my Mediawiki sandbox set up and see if I can hack this in. Evan, I see that they like changes to originate in HEAD... do you think they'd be more likely to accept a patch there? or on the 1.4x. branch? -- Mark 01:16, 12 May 2005 (EDT)

Toll-free Numbers in Country Code 1[edit]

In Country Code 1, certain area codes are actually toll-free numbers. The problem with these numbers is that they can only be dialed from Country Code 1 phones. Worse, businesses can sign up for a toll-free number that only works in one state or a small region. Usually a business with a toll-free number also has a regular number which can be dialed internationally.

In my opinion:

  1. An internationally usable number is preferable to a toll-free number in a listing
  2. Toll-free numbers which don't work throughout Country Code 1 should not be listed.
  3. All toll-free numbers should be identified as such so international travellers don't waste their time dialing them.

So here's how I suggest formatting listings with toll free numbers. (I don't really care what the format is, I just want a standard).

  • Best Western Carson Station Hotel/Casino, 900 S Carson Street, (775) 883-0900, Toll-free: (800) 501-2929, Fax: (775) 882-7569, [1].

-- Colin 19:00, 9 Jul 2005 (EDT)

In your case, I prefer "+1 775 883-0900, Toll-free: (800) 501-2929, Fax: +1 775 882-7569" to use local format for Northern American toll-free numbers. Simply saying, we should generally stick to international formats, but toll-free numbers accessible in just part of the world should use local format.--Jusjih 01:00, 24 February 2011 (EST)

Country code 1[edit]

This page was self-contradictory: the example for international format was for a country-code-1 number, and then we said that CC1 numbers shouldn't be formatted that way. I'm not sure I buy that US, Canada, and Caribbean phone numbers require such an exception. So, I removed the CC1 section. Comments and changes requested. --Evan 12:20, 31 Jul 2005 (EDT)

Aiieee. I really like the ten-digit format we've managed to compromise on for CC1. But first I'd like to hear what you propose as an alternative. I assume you mean ''+1 XXX'' XXX-XXXX? USAians are a rather non-worldly bunch, and while I guess they can parse that ok, it's certainly not the standard format for the locale. And it seems to me that we could handle the country code issues in the Contact section of the CC1 countries.
I will say that it makes sense to me to use the full international format for Caribbean locations since it's less obvious that they are in Country Code 1.
While I don't like the change, I'll keep mulling over whether it's livable for consistency's sake. -- Colin 15:21, 31 Jul 2005 (EDT)
OK. I'd like to close this down. I'm fine with having an exception, but I think we need more of a reason for it than "Americans are too dumb." This a) is insulting and b) doesn't really factor, since it's not just Americans reading the USA listings. --Evan 19:43, 22 Sep 2005 (EDT)
Americans are too dumb regarding phone numbers. Okay, they're merely ignorant due to a history of living in a large single-language single-country-code region. For example, on the Intercontinental Hotel chain's website, Country Code 1 phone numbers are often listed with the wrong country code. My scraping script has to treat 0, 00, 1, 11, 011, 001, 010, and 01 as all equivalent to CC1.
But that's not why I'm averse to this change. I'm averse to it because los norteamericanos ain't never gonna use it. There are only a few of us who bother to fix the format of listings as it is. No i18n-ignorant Canadian/American contributor is going to write ''+1 AAA'', so that's just more work for editors. Who is volunteering to do any of this work? I work on the recent listings-format change, but that has far better reasons behind the change, and there's still a lot more work to be done there.
I went through the Main Page and looked at the first article in each section -- i.e. the most recent feature article for each region. Not one of the recent featured articles uses the correct phone number format that we already established! Only Longyearbyen uses the format at all -- but even it missed the italics on one.
We already have a dearth of editors going around fixing i18n numbers. Do we really want to add CC1 to the list? So rather than say no, let me ask, "are you sure? [y/n]". I'm not going to object to the change, but I'm not going to work on it either. -- Colin 23:28, 22 Sep 2005 (EDT)
Also, if we're going to make this exception, let's at least change the example for the "main" rule so it's not in country code 1! --Evan 19:48, 22 Sep 2005 (EDT)

My brain hurts.[edit]

So I'm not even sure that the actual article makes any sense, much less the dozen or so opinions expressed above. Can someone (Evan, Ryan, Colin, Jpatokal, etc) do a nice, clean, sensible re-write of article? I mean, I know its not neccessarily their place to write a policy, but the debate has raged for some time and it all seems so messy. Maybe these WikiTravel vets can bring order to chaos? -- Ilkirk 15:52, 22 Sep 2005 (EDT)

My preference would be to list phone numbers in the format in which they would be dialed from within the country; people are smart enough to understand that when dialing from outside of the country they must include a country code, and methods of dialing vary so wildly (calling cards, 001 vs 1, etc) that I don't think we want to deal with the numerous variations that would arise. Thus my proposal would be that for the United States numbers are (area code) + number: (999) 999-9999. Area codes should always be included since there are now so many places that have multiple area codes or require 10 digit numbers. For other countries list it in the format used in that country, for example in the Falkland Islands it means the five digit number: 99999. The Contact section of the country article can then explain how to call internationally ("From outside of the US, dial 1 + area code + number (1-999-999-9999)"). -- Ryan 19:29, 22 Sep 2005 (EDT)
Responding to myself, I started reading the messy argument above, and might amend my comments to say that the phone number policy might best be defined country-by-country to follow whatever the most common phone number format used within that country is. Thus the policy for the US would be (999) 999-9999, while the policy for the Falklands would be +99999, etc. -- Ryan 19:33, 22 Sep 2005 (EDT)
I think we're close. The rule now is "show the full international dialing number, but use italics to hide everything but the local number". I've rolled back Colin's rollback so it's at least consistent. Let's make sure that we want to make an exception for country code 1 in the discussion above. --Evan 19:47, 22 Sep 2005 (EDT)
Okay, I think with the rollback, the article at least makes more sense now... now its just back to the standard debates of whether or not it is entered into every phone number or if it is stored in the contact section of each template. I don't like the idea of having to look all the way back to the country article to find how to dial the phone number internationally, though. If I'm going to print out information, I'd really not like to have to dig through a pile of papers to figure it out. I started a discussion on the article template page considering placing "Contact" in each city template. -- Ilkirk 11:31, 23 Sep 2005 (EDT)
I do not want country-by-country rules for spelling, phone numbers or anything else. I do not see why we should make an exception for country code 1 numbers. Yes there is a lot of CC1 numbers, but that is why the CC is only one digit. With VoIP CC does not even correspond to a country anymore. I live in Denmark but also have a US phone number from IPkall. I know people in USA and Canada that have a Danish phone number. --elgaard 06:23, 23 Sep 2005 (EDT)

Malaysian mobile numbers[edit]

Just a querry which I don't think has been addressed in the multitude of discussions above. When calling mobile phone numbers in Malaysia, we have to dial the code of the respective provider. The three-number code starts with a "0" (eg 012, 013, 016, 019), making them just like area codes, which have two numbers and also begin with a "0". How do I depict this according to the Wikitravel style? A normal telephone number will be +60-3-XXXXXXXX, where the XXXXXXXX can be dialled locally. A mobile phone number, when calling from overseas, would be +60-12-XXXXXX. If dialled locally from anywhere in Malaysia, the number would be 012-XXXXXX. Do I depict this as +60-(0)12-XXXXXXX, breaking the Wikitravel style rule of prohibiting numbers in brackets? Or distort Malaysia's 60 international code and write it as +6-012-XXXXXXX? I cannot depict it as +60-012-XXXXXXX because that would mean dialling two zeros, nor just XXXXXXX as it will not connect to a mobile but a land line. While the second option conforms to the style and still works, I don't like it because of the distortion of the international code, and also, it would not work for countries - if they follow the same system as Malaysia - where the international code does not end with a zero.Slleong 06:14, 25 February 2006 (EST)

US number format[edit]

We should make the exception for US and Canadian phone number format. Almost every single listing of American phone numbers uses the (xxx) xxx-xxxx format. Due to this using the obscure international format of +x xxx xxx-xxxx might confuse people from the US and Canada. Therefore, we should allow for this exception to help clarify the phone numbers and avoid confusion. Additionally, if you look in a US phone book you see the numbers listed in the above format with the omition of the 1 and the use of brackets around the area code.

I disagree. US phone books usually stays in the US, Wikitravel does not. Wikitravellers also call US numbers from outside the US. --elgaard 19:59, 1 March 2006 (EST)
The point is that the traveller comes first. Many US Travellers look at +1 numbers and think "WTF does this mean." Seriously. Many have never seen this format before and have no idea what it means. At the very least it appears to be completely weird. Being foolish, they naturally assume that when travelling within their own country, phone numbers will be written in a format that is at least remotely familiar to them, which +1 is not. On the bright side, they will probably guess that the +1 can be ignored, and will still have a usable number.
Meanwhile, European travellers faced with a (XXX) XXX-XXXX format number for a US Destination are apparently completely baffled by the idea that a US Number might be written in a US-Specific format which is carefully documented in our USA article. This is similar to the bafflement they naturally feel when faced with prices in dollars, which is why all our US articles contain prices in € only.
Either way we inconvenience a group of travellers. Naturally we use the +1 format because reading the USA article is hard, whereas the US travellers will probably guess correctly that they can ignore the international dialing code prefix. (Note: Some exaggeration may have occurred in the making of this comment, but at least no animals were hurt. My point really is that people are not wrong to want to delete the +1, though I can't entirely convince myself either way on it.) -- Colin 20:46, 1 March 2006 (EST)
The same argument goes for all countries. If we omit the US country codes we should omit all country codes. Maybe US travellers make fewer calls to other countries than e.g. European travellers. But I do not want to divide the world into countries that call other countries and countries that does not. And it is a real inconvenience to look up every country article of hotels you try to call, especially when you are standing outside in the rain with you mobile phone and a Wikitral printout, even if you did remember to print out the country article. --elgaard 06:28, 2 March 2006 (EST)
I think we should keep it "as is". People in the US can look at the number and see it is a "one plus - area code - number" and I really don't think anyone in the US will get confused at all! We have had "one plus" dialing on home phones for at least 40 years and we have the area code for long distance dialing. You look at it +1 555 555-1212 and anyone will know the 7 digits on the end are the local number, the next 3 to the left is the area code and the +1 is exactly that "one plus". Is there anyone in the United States reading this that is confused by the phone number listing? -- Tom Holland (xltel) 15:48, 2 March 2006 (EST)
I think we need to look at removing that space and just using dashes between the area code, prefix, and number. That seems to be how it's almost always listed in the USA where there is mandatory ten digit dialing (and the area code is almost always simply omitted where there is not, which does not really help our travellers at all). Jordanmills 18:46, 28 December 2006 (EST)
Please see my "Telephone number template" proposal, below, for a possible solution. Andy Mabbett 10:34, 29 December 2006 (EST)

This is looking like a programming problem[edit]

It looks like we are simply going to have to hack a solution into mediawiki. I'm thinking that it makes sense to try to recognize, or use some markup for phone numbers, and then automatically render them according to the rdf information in the article (isIn).

What do the rest of you think? Do you think it's better to use markup like maybe

{{phone|(555) 4400}}

which would be interpreted exactly the same as

{{phone|+1 555 555 4400}}

or would it be better to take the plunge and go for a much more challenging task of recognizing phone numbers without any special markup?

RFC. -- Mark 07:03, 2 March 2006 (EST)

I would like markup of phone numbers, but for other reasons. I.e. it would be great having Wikitravel on my laptop and being able to click on phone numbers for hotels and having my SIP-phone client dial automatically.
As for the markup, I think we should always use unique phone numbers (i.e. including +cc). We could make the presentation dependent on personal preferences. I do not see the point of using isIn. I want to see the country code no matter what the isIn is. Besides, I have a phone in Denmark with a US phone number, I know people in Canada with a Danish (+45) phone number --elgaard 09:09, 2 March 2006 (EST)
I think I suggested that already... back when I was young and naive and didn't realize just how flaming hard it would be. But if you'd like to go for it, then by all means!
For the templates, I think we should prefer the + format for many countries. But for convenience it would be nice if there were a CC1 version of the template that allowed omission of the country code but still made Elgaard's phone work, but printed out in the localized. You get many bonus points on this project if you can make Elgaard's phone work but still display it localized. -- Colin 14:22, 2 March 2006 (EST)

December 2006 discussions[edit]

Moved from User talk:Evan by Evan on 11:47, 15 December 2006 (EST)

See recent discussion at Tech: Automatic area codes in listings and on its talk page. Note also the hCard microformat, which allows for telephone number mark-up. Andy Mabbett 18:08, 13 December 2006 (EST)

Telephone number template[edit]

I propose a series of templates, one per relevant country, with wording like, say:

This article uses the international standard for showing telephone numbers (e.g +44 121 123 4567). For use within the country, drop the leading +nn and prepend a zero (e.g. 0121 123 4567). For use within the locality, drop the leading +nn and the next group of digits (e.g. 123 4567). Numbers shown as beginning 0800 are free from land-lines, but may be charged for on mobiles. They may not be available internationally.

This could then be used within the "understand" section of any article for the country concerned.

Would people be happy with that? Is there a naming convention, for templates, which I should follow?

Would it, perhaps, be sensible to have a "telephones" sub-section to the "understand" section, or elsewhere, in each article? Andy Mabbett 10:38, 29 December 2006 (EST)

Update now that we're using templates?[edit]

Should we consider updating this since the templates we're using now don't allow for italics? Evan's also working on form-based listings, don't know much about those yet and if they'll allow for wiki markup.

For US numbers how about either:

  • +1 (555) 555-5555 or
  • +1 555-555-5555

? – cacahuate talk 05:09, 23 June 2007 (EDT)

Hmm, might I put forth an alternative: +1 555 555-5555. But in choosing between Cacahuate's two, I definitely prefer the former. --Peter Talk 06:52, 23 June 2007 (EDT)
Yeah, you're probably right... if we have to shift to something else, these 2 a probably better since the separate the area code a little more:
  1. +1 (555) 555-5555
  2. +1 555 555-5555
I visually like #2, but #1 provides a clearer indication that the area code can be dropped locally, and is the more standard way to list a US # – cacahuate talk 15:34, 23 June 2007 (EDT)
I lean #2: first because if we pick #1 I'll have to go through and reformat all the phone numbers for South Side Chicago (which I'm thinking of batch-nominating for star status in the future), and second because it is more standard throughout the non-US parts of our travel guide (I don't think any other countries are getting parentheses). Also, using #2 might allow us to change the MoS guidelines for phone listings to say something like, "link the local calling code parts with hyphens, but keep the non-local dialing codes un hyphenated." That would get us around the italicization within the templates problem. --Peter Talk 16:18, 23 June 2007 (EDT)
Not a bad idea... but because of the latter reason ;) – cacahuate talk 01:33, 24 June 2007 (EDT)
Hmm, are we the only editors who care about this? Can we just declare consensus and edit the policy page? I'd kind of like to have this resolved, since I am currently adding a lot of new listings to various Chicago districts. --Peter Talk 05:44, 27 June 2007 (EDT)
Actually, I prefer option one as I think it is clearer which is the (removable) area code. Don't worry, Peter, if number one is chosen, I'll help you re-edit South Side Chicago. WindHorse 05:57, 27 June 2007 (EDT)
Ok, I switch my vote to option one as well because my primary interest is that we just develop a consensus on this quickly. --Peter Talk 14:24, 27 June 2007 (EDT)
Evan has an evil plan to do the italics automatically. I'd like to switch to templates and do away with all this formatting gunk.
Regarding US phone numbers, I have no preference on the exact format. For awhile now I've been thinking we need country-specific style pages that give us a consistent style of implementing the Fine Rules for each particular country. For example, in the US it would be nice to have a formatting page that details how to format phone numbers; how to format highways (is it I-95 or Interstate 95); and whatever else comes up. -- Colin 19:08, 27 June 2007 (EDT)
I say we don't do anything until Evan figures out what to do. I was the one that brought up the issue in the IRC chat several months back and Hypatia joined in because of other issues we had. The idea's we came up with were, in my humble opinion, superb. As an example, depending on the IsIn all guides would automatically be formatted to have the country code included, then on a guide-by-guide case another template would auto-format the local dialing code. Then there would be options to override any weird scenarios like forced dialings of area codes, say like 212 it could be included in the regular phone number. I don't know if I saved the conversation, but it was a good brainstorming session. -- 71.72.212.152 19:31, 27 June 2007 (EDT)

Big list of number formatting?[edit]

I've recently been adding hotel listings to various countries and just guessing how to format the phone listings, since there are either several different styles being used or I'm the first to add any phone numbers. I know it might be a lot of work to make a huge list detailing how numbers should be formatted, but I think something needs to be do for consistency.

For example, the Bonn, Germany article formats phone numbers eleven different ways:

+49 (0)228 / 98 588 - 0
+49/(0)228/ 429-2538
+49 228-98175-0
+49 (0)228 / 65 55 31
+49 (0)228 / 91 65-0
+49 (0)228 / 776260
+49 (0)228 / 9171-0
+49 (0)228 / 302-255
+49 (0)228 / 9122 211
+49 (0)228 1848-0
+49-(0)228-72690

Alternatively, as Colin suggested in the above thread, we could create "country-specific style pages that give us a consistent style of implementing the Fine Rules for each particular country". Any other suggestions? -- Fastestdogever 11:51, 21 August 2007 (EDT)

do away with italics... for now?[edit]

There's occasional confusion for people that see this policy requiring italics, but realize that it's impossible to italicize within our listings templates. I propose doing away with the italics policy, at least for now. Actually for good. We don't need them... we should list full phone #'s, with +1 country code etc, and note in "Contact" that to dial locally, replace the country code with a 0 or whatever – cacahuate talk 00:11, 4 September 2008 (EDT)

Since this still isn't possible, and there hasn't been and objections to the above, I think we should move to make the change to the project page, and remove the requirement for italics. Full international numbers, with details in the contact section of the region for how to dial what. Spaces separating the interntional part and area part of the code. --Inas 23:59, 19 March 2009 (EDT)
In the absence any objection, I'll move this to the project page shortly. --inas 22:02, 10 June 2009 (EDT)
By all means, go ahead. --Peter Talk 02:07, 11 June 2009 (EDT)
done. --inas 03:08, 11 June 2009 (EDT)

In the absence of italics, we have only the "Contact" section of a guide to explain whether area codes are needed or not. May I propose formatting a number as "+1-800-555-5555" if the country code must be dialed locally, "+1 407-555-5555" if only the area code must be dialed locally, and "+1 716 555-5555" if only the seven-digit number must be dialed locally? LtPowers 15:49, 11 January 2010 (EST)

Actually, I think that's already our policy. I would not, however, support changing the local format for countries, where that format is already very widely used—e.g., it would not be worth the effort to make the changes across the thousands of U.S. destination articles that conform to the established +1 XXX XXX-XXXX standard. --Peter Talk 16:02, 11 January 2010 (EST)
Well we could do it going forward then. LtPowers 16:28, 11 January 2010 (EST)
Given that the U.S. is one of the few countries where this information is actually somewhat useful (i.e where you can't tell from a number format whether the area code is optional or not) there would be a certain irony in following this rule for every country but the U.S. --inas 21:01, 26 January 2010 (EST)

Lettered numbers[edit]

I could have sworn we already had a policy or at least a discussion on this, but I can't seem to find it. Stefan said on the Star Nominations page:

I'd also like to discourage the use of "letter" phone numbers, as these are not used in large swaths of the world, and will be confusing to many foreign readers.

I agree, for the same reasons. Would anyone mind if I add this to the policy article? (If it seems worth keeping the lettered number, better to do it in parentheses after the numbered version, e.g., D.C. Yellow Cab [38], +1 202 554-1212 (+1 202 TAXICAB). --Peter Talk 13:04, 7 February 2010 (EST)

I think a more widespread convention (outside of Wikitravel, I mean) is to put the letters first, followed by numbers. LtPowers 13:36, 7 February 2010 (EST)
I think they should be discouraged in the guide. We have to list the numeric anyway. I think the convention that LtPowers is mainly promoted by the business who have paid for their memorable number.. --inas 04:48, 8 February 2010 (EST)
Numbers only please as the whole world understands those. Pointless putting both. --Burmesedays 05:01, 8 February 2010 (EST)
It most certainly is not pointless putting both. For example, I can tell you right now that to reserve a tee time at the Osprey Ridge golf course in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, one should call +1 407 WDW-GOLF. Reservations for a fishing excursion along the Sassagoula River can be made by calling +1 407 WDW-PLAY. And dinner reservations for any location at the Walt Disney World resort are +1 407 WDW-DINE. Mnemonics are far easier to remember than a regular 10-digit number. LtPowers 08:58, 8 February 2010 (EST)
Yes mnemonics are easy to remember for some, but pointless as this is a travel guide ultimately designed to be printed and read, not a memory aid. Putting two different expressions of a phone number is duplication. As the world outside North America does not really use lettered numbers, I think it is reasonable that the numerical expression takes precedent--Burmesedays 09:14, 8 February 2010 (EST).
If it's duplication you're worried about, you should prefer letters-first, as only the part of the phone number with letters need be interpreted with numbers. (e.g., I can write "+1 407 WDW-PLAY (939-7529)" instead of "+1 407 939-7529 (+1 407 WDW-PLAY)".) LtPowers 13:31, 8 February 2010 (EST)
Eh? Just write the number. Once. +1 407 939-7529. That's it. No duplication, the whole wide world understands and does not feel that they are being sold to. Seems very simple to me. --Burmesedays 21:22, 8 February 2010 (EST)
But it's silly when there's an easy-to-remember mnemonic available. I don't see how using that mnemonic makes anyone feel like "they are being sold to". You're calling a number to make reservations; I think you've already agreed to be sold to. LtPowers 13:28, 9 February 2010 (EST)
That a word is easier to remember than a number is obvious - that is why companies pay big dollars for these special numbers. There are some of these mnemonic numbers with more letters than they have required numbers, so only duplicating the letters can give you a confusing result in this case. To me the numeric gives the traveller the information they need to call the place they want. To give the letters is just supporting the corporate marketing campaign. In the case of the Disney article you quote, this is pretty much what we are doing anyway, so it doesn't jar that much, but in the case of list of hotels in some town, when one has the paid number +1+555+STAY-HERE... ? --inas 15:07, 8 February 2010 (EST)
If we do decide to use lettered numbers, I'd like to see them excluded from the phone="" part of a XML listing. I see Wikitravel on your mobile device as being most likely future, and being able to call a listing directly a big advantage. We can use phoneextra for the info if required. --inas 17:35, 9 February 2010 (EST)

UK numbers[edit]

An anon has been on a tear changing UK numbers from +44 (0) XXXX XXXXX to +44 XXXX XXXXX. Is this something we want? I always understood our basic phone number system to be that we show the international calling code up front and then the local number. But, if I'm not mistaken, you have to dial the 0 if dialing from within the country. Having the 0 in parentheses would then make sense, right? This always seemed straightforward (including the time I spent living in London...), but after trying to read the convoluted UK#Telephone section, I'm honestly no longer sure. --Peter Talk 23:52, 1 August 2011 (EDT)

Multiple formats have been is use, often within the same page. This should clarify the problem: [[2]] and the solution. 80.42.230.218 09:13, 2 August 2011 (EDT)
With respect, a ranting blog does not clarify anything. +44 (0) XXXX XXXXX is perfectly clear and correct. It means omit the zero if dialing from outside the UK. This is a widely used standard in business and elsewhere. --Burmesedays 09:31, 2 August 2011 (EDT)
It is not a standard. This [[3]] is a standard. 80.42.230.218 09:36, 2 August 2011 (EDT)
What we're looking for is not to follow standards blindly, but to use a format that the average traveler will most easily understand. LtPowers 11:05, 2 August 2011 (EDT)
I understand his point though. Dialing +440XXXXXXXXX would not get you anywhere. So if anything, then the international calling code would also need to be between brackets, or something like (+44/0)XXXXXXXXX which looks odd. That's why I think using the international standard is best. --globe-trotter 10:39, 3 August 2011 (EDT)
Are there people out there who do not understand what a bracketed zero in a phone number means? Sometimes I wonder if we go too far in trying to cater for the lowest common denominator. Also, don't forget that people within the UK also read Wikitravel, in which case the zero is relevant. It's not a huge deal either way I guess, as most human beings will figure it out.--Burmesedays 10:46, 3 August 2011 (EDT)
Traditionally, things in parentheses are omitted when you dial from within the area and are included when you call from outside the area. Using (0) breaks that understanding. 80.42.230.218 14:49, 3 August 2011 (EDT)

We should follow the Ofcom and ITU-T recommendations [4] - which also work in-country from mobiles and local fixed line phones - so this format makes it foolproof for the traveller --W. Franke-mailtalk 07:51, 21 October 2012 (EDT)

There isn't a consensus for this, Frank. In any case, the ITU might change their recommendation and then we would have a lot of work to do. I'm going to try and give some country-specific examples that might make things clearer. --singaporeAlice 16:02, 4 November 2012 (EST)

Economy[edit]

It doesn't seem efficient to maintain identical phone information at many different places in the contact section of thousands of destination articles, so I propose that, instead, it be maintained here in this central article and then referred to as an internal link in other articles.

I have already made here: http://wikitravel.org/en/User:Singapore.Alice/Kitchen/Phone_numbers an example of the sort of changes that will be required for this article. --singaporeAlice 01:11, 24 November 2012 (EST)

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