Dial International Phone Numbers from iPhone the Easy Way Using the +Plus Prefix

Jan 25, 2013 - 9 Comments

Dial International phone numbers from the iPhone

Dialing international phone numbers can be done by prefixing a phone number with the current countries exit code (011 for USA), the country code of the number you are calling, and then the phone number you are dialing. This ends up being a fairly long string of numbers that is infinitely confusing to those who don’t dial foreign numbers often, like 011 86 10 XXXX 5555. Another much simpler approach is to use the plus + prefix and the country code, skipping the exit code completely and leading to a shorter number and less dialing frustration.

There’s not much to this, it’s really just a matter of accessing the + key which is hidden by default on the iPhone’s number pad:

  • Press and hold 0 for a second or two until a the + plus sign appears to replace the 0
  • Enter the international phone number and call as usual

Much easier, right?

Taking the earlier example, drop the 011 and instead use: +86 10 XXXX 5555. That is usually how you’ll find international numbers written anyway, so it makes a lot more sense to use the plus sign than fiddling around with the unnecessary country codes which seem to trip people up frequently. If you intend to save an international number to your iPhone Contacts list, prefix it with a + and you’ll be able to dial it as any other number – and here’s the best part, it works even if you change the SIM card while you are traveling abroad.

Unless you have a generous international plan through your cellular provider, you probably won’t want to aimlessly test this one since you could wind up with a hefty long distance bill.

Heads up to MacWorld for the + dialing tip, they point out some US carriers won’t even accept the 011 exit codes with numbers which basically forces the usage of the plus number prefix anyway.


Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPhone, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Dorith says:

    Some countries have multiple outgoing international services so the + value should be configurable

  2. jch says:

    Every mobile phone I have ever owned or used has had this “hold zero for international” feature.

  3. mike sanders says:

    Totally agree nothing worse than being abroad and calling a “local” number in your home country to find you have to punch in the whole thing because it can’t dial from your contacts without the plus sign and country code.
    So Albert just do it or better still get someone to do it for you and make sure that all your new entries conform.

  4. Albert says:

    So now the big question is, what is the easy way to add + to over 1000 phone numbers in my contacts on iOS and iCloud ? any suggestion? thanks

  5. Thomas says:


    I am in the UK with many contacts around the world. All my entries are in Contacts with the +CountyCode (and dropping the lead zero). This includes +1 for my USA friends. Having it helps if you are ever traveling and will not affect dialing of your local numbers. For example, if you are in the USA, and all your friends are entered as +1 xxx xxx-xxxx — you’ll have no issues locally or abroad (when you win the trip for a European holiday).

    It doesn’t cause any issues using the +CountryCode with FaceTime, Skype (dialing), Viber, or WhatsApp.

    Granted, if you will never leave your particular country and all your contacts are within your country — then yes you can skip it.

    • Armand says:

      Exactly. Your location may change, but the phone numbers won’t. Always prefix them with +, even if you are currently in your home country!

  6. Brian says:

    Never needed to call an international number in my life, I use Skype or FaceTime to talk to people when abroad. When you’re traveling with local phones, wouldn’t you be calling local anyway?

    • a_ says:

      Brian, do you live in US, right? ;)
      Here in Europe the things are quite different…
      Many of us travel in different countries very often. For esxample, I live in a country and work in another, so I pass the border every day. :)
      Of course I use Skype every time I can, but who phone me don’t know where I am in that very moment, and I like to know who is calling me (the international prefix allow my phone to show me the caller’s name, and not only the number).

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