Making a call

Tips on using the telephone in Switzerland

Using the phone in Switzerland works pretty much the same as in any other country. You dial connections within Switzerland from any call box, post office, or private line.

Almost all foreign countries can be direct-dialled. In some exceptions, you have to ring the exchange first under 1141 and ask to be connected. This number can also be used for reverse charge calls and international enquiries.

Dialling numbers

Dialling numbers in Switzerland can be a bit confusing at first. All Swiss phone numbers consist of a two or three-digit area code and a seven-digit number. When calling from within Switzerland, you always have to dial the area code with a “0” in front of it (i.e. 01 for Zurich or 022 for Geneva), even if you’re in the same area. When calling from abroad, you need to dial the code for international calls (00 in most of the world, 011 from North America), then the Swiss country code (+41), followed by the area code without the “0”. For example, calling a local number in Geneva:

  • To call from within Geneva or other places in Switzerland, dial 022 343 80 14 (area code + local number)
  • To call from abroad, dial +41 22 343 80 14 (country code + area code without “0” + local number)

Service and premium numbers

There is also a confusing variety of special-service prefixes in Germany. Some of these prefixes can bear extremely high calling costs (up to CHF 4.50 per minute!), so be extremely cautious when dialling them. For your orientation, we have listed some of the most important prefixes:

155 or 0800: These are toll-free numbers provided by companies and organizations.

156, 157 and 0900, 0901: These are premium numbers which can cost anything between CHF 0.30 and 4.50 per minute. These numbers are used by some customer hotlines, but also for pornography, astrology and other such ’entertainment’.

076, 078 and 079: These are the prefixes of mobile numbers.

One final word of advice

When making a call, make sure to have a look at your watch beforehand. The Swiss like to go to bed very early (so they can start to work as early as possible again the next day) - uninvited calls after 9pm might be considered as rude.

Further reading

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