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Is there a way to call French 0800 numbers from outside of France?

We look at the options for calling ‘special’ phone numbers in France from abroad, including 0800 and short numbers

It can be a struggle to call customer service lines from abroad Pic: fizkes / Shutterstock

Reader question: Is there a way to call 0800 in France if you are outside of France?

Phone numbers beginning with 0800 (and up to 0805) are free to call in France and are often used by companies and public administrations.

However 08 numbers are not generally reachable from abroad, states the Ministry of Economy’s website.

In the rare cases they can be reached, they are not covered by the EU’s roaming regulations, meaning you are likely to be charged extra for the call.

This can create problems not just for second-home owners, but also for French people who live abroad. 

For this reason, two French expats came up with a solution by creating the start-up Losali, which allows you to call these numbers while being charged by the second.

Read more: Can I use my French mobile in the UK without roaming fees?

You enter the number you wish to call and your number, and the price of the call will be calculated. Then create an account, choose the amount of credit you want to add and enter your card details, and you will be put in touch with the number you are trying to reach.

The service is not cheap, however. The Connexion tried entering an 0800 number on the site alongside a UK phone number and was offered 10 minutes for €15, or 36 minutes for €50, with credits valid for two years for the number of your choice.

The platform also allows you to call other 08 numbers (such as premium rate numbers beginning 081, 082, or 089), and short phone numbers that cannot be reached from outside France, either. An example is EDF’s customer service number: 3004.

Both 08 numbers and short numbers are referred to as SVA numbers, for Service à Valeur Ajoutée (Added Value Service), as they allow access to things like customer service, games, and information.

Sometimes there will be an alternative number for people calling from outside of France. This is often the case for official government helplines with short numbers.

To call the Allô Service Public helpline, for example, you would dial 3939 from France, but +33 (0) 1 73 60 39 39 from abroad. (In this particular case, the number can only be accessed from a landline phone.)

It is worth searching online to check if there is no an alternative number beginning with +33.

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