How to dial an international call with a mobile phone

An international call can be dialed from a mobile phone the same way it is through a landline phone.

As well, mobile phones can also dial an international number by including the + in the call sequence.

In this case, the + replaces the international exit code in the call sequence.

Dialing sequence

+1 to 3 digitsremaining digits
'+' replaces the exit codedestination country codelocal phone number

When calling from a mobile phone, the + symbol simply replaces the exit code.

Which country or region am I calling from?

When you make a call from a mobile phone, you always dial the call based on where you are standing at that moment in time.

If you are near an international border, then you are “located” on the network of the country that your phone is currently connected to.

A caller with an American cell phone standing in France would dial a phone number as a number dialed from France, not from the United States.

Even if that caller with an American cell phone was calling a friend with a separate American cell phone while both of them were in France, the call sequence would still be dialed as any other phone number calling from France to the United States.

Rates and costs

When dialled by calling with a ‘+’ instead of an exit code, the cost for the call should be the same as if the exit code was called.

This can sometimes be a more expensive cost than using a calling card, VoIP phone service, or dial-through service, however it does have the advantage of convenience.

Saving numbers in an address book for international travel

International numbers should be saved in address book should be saved with the ‘+’ symbol if travelling.

A phone number saved in a phone’s address book will be dialed the same way that it is been saved in the address book.

For example, a person living in New York will often save a New York number as a 10 digit number, a Los Angeles number as 11 digits (including the “1” for long distance), and a number in Tokyo as a 14 digit number starting with 011 (the exit code from the United States) 81 (Japan’s country code) and the remaining 9 digits of the local phone number in Tokyo.

If that person were to travel to Miami, most of these phone numbers would still work – calling a New York number may result in the user getting a message that the call is a long distance call, however the phone system should automatically correct. Calling the Los Angeles number would already be set as long distance, so that number would work. The Tokyo number would work as well, as it is the same process to call from Miami as it is from New York.

If that person were to travel to France, however, none of these numbers would work. The New York number not be accessible as when calling from France “00” (the exit code from France) and “1” (America’s country code) would need to be added. The Los Angeles number would not work as well, as “00” would need to be added to call from France. As well, the Tokyo number would not work, as “00” instead of “011” would need to be dialed to reach the international switchboard from France.

Instead, if the numbers were saved as starting with +1 for both the New York and Los Angeles number, as starting with +81 for the Tokyo number (instead of 011-81), the smartphone would automatically adjust when travelling.

Once those numbers have been adjusted, then the bigger challenge is the cost of the call – a user with an account based out of New York will often see very expensive costs when calling to Japan from France – for this reason, VoIP, calling card, and call-through numbers should be considered to keep costs controlled.