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Can I call the emergency services in France with a UK mobile phone?

It is important to know how to call the emergency services in France, so we review how to do so with a UK phone

You can call 112 from anywhere in the European Union with any phone to be put through to emergency services Pic: McLittle Stock / Shutterstock

Reader question: I live in France and use a UK mobile phone and an internet phone landline. If I want to call French emergency services will +33 15 work from my UK mobile? Will calling 15 on my Internet phone work?

There are three main emergency numbers in France: 15 for medical and ambulance services, 17 for the police and 18 for the fire department. 

There is also a European emergency number, which is 112. 

You can call 112 and you reach all the emergency services from any country in the European Union and with any phone, 

After speaking to an operator, you will be put through to the relevant services. It will work from any mobile, including a UK one. 

As to whether you need to add the +33 country code or not when calling 15 from a UK phone while in France, no you should not need to do this. 

Rules can change for certain contracts

Some operators allow you to use your phone plan in the EU (and so France) as if you were using a mobile from the country you are visiting. 

In this case, you should be able to call 15 without putting in the French country code.  

However, you are not able to call 15, 17, or 18 from outside France, so it is likely you will be unable to do so if you are on a plan where the phone acts as if you are still in the UK.

Vodafone UK told us that their users, when in France, can call French numbers without any international code. 

A spokeswoman said: “The customer does not need to do anything additional as the phone recognises it is in France so it will default to behaving as if it is a French phone”. 

However, for convenience, she said the phone will also allow you to call a UK number without adding +44, though there are exceptions, for example premium rate numbers.

An O2 spokeswoman said their phones work differently.

“We know that many of our customers have UK numbers saved in their address book using 0 instead of +44 and the majority of the calls they make abroad are to UK numbers. We have therefore created a UK dialing experience for our customers abroad to make it easier for them.

“This means that our customers whilst in France using a UK O2 SIM, do not need to add +44 when calling other UK numbers, however they would need to add +33 for French numbers, regardless of the fact they are in France. 

In short, this means you do the same regardless of whether you’re at home or abroad.”

Three said if in France, to call France you must put in the French country code.

If you are not able to double check with your phone provider, then remember the important 112 number, which should work with any phone in France. 

With your internet phone, you should be able to dial 15, 17 or 18 without a problem because it is a telephone connected to the Internet in France. Otherwise, once again, use 112.

Emergency numbers are free to call even if you have run out of your calling credit. 

You can see other important French emergency numbers here and here.

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