How to use the phone in Canada


Using the phone in Canada works pretty much the same as in any other country. Almost all foreign countries can be direct-dialed.

For all calls within Canada (even local calls), you need to dial 10 digits: 3 for the area code and 7 for the actual number. Most local calls are included in your flat rate service. If you want to talk to your neighbour (assuming that its a local call) for 500 hours a month, you will just pay your flat rate of approximately CAD$ 20-30 per month. The downside is that you still pay the same amount if you don’t make any local calls.

If you are calling a mobile phone within your local area, you will not be billed. Bear in mind the person you are calling may be paying per minute though!

Long Distance calls

Long Distance Service is a combination of Domestic Long Distance and International Long Distance. Domestic Long distance is the service that allows you to call another city within the country and it is usually the same rate across Canada with your long distance provider. That said, if you lived in Toronto, Ontario, it would cost you the same to call Windsor, Ontario as Vancouver, British Columbia.

Domestic Long Distance Calls (calls within Canada): For long distance, you need to dial 1 and then the 10-digit number of the party you are calling. If you are calling a cell phone registered in an area outside of your area code, you will be billed long distance and your party will be billed for the duration of the call depending on the calling plan they have.

International Long Distance Calls: Calling overseas requires (in most instances) you to dial the prefix 011 followed by the country code. For instance if you were to call Italy from your phone, you would dial: 011 39 and then the Italian number you wish to call including the corresponding area code.

There is one exception to this dialing protocol. Canada and the United States of America have the same country code, so if you were to call the United States from anywhere in Canada, you would make the connection the same way you would with a domestic long distance call. If you are calling MiamiUSA (area code 305), you dial 1 305 and then the number you wish to call.

Toll Free Calls

Toll free calls are those that are in most instances free to dial from almost any phone. The exception to this is if you are calling a toll free number from a cell phone. In that case, you pay for the airtime of the call at the rate given in the corresponding plan.

Most toll free numbers start with: 1 800, 1 888, 1 877, 1 866. Usually the customer service centers of most companies in Canada have a toll free number.

1-900 Calls

1-900 calls are paid calls at a rate imposed by the owner of the number and could be significantly expensive by the minute. Most establishments with these numbers are in the adult/entertainment business and usually notify the caller of the charges during the first few seconds of the call. Obviously, by then it’s a little too late if you didn’t mean to get charged – be careful!

Collect Calls

You can make a collect call from any payphone or residential phone by calling the operator and requesting for such a call to be made or by calling your service provider.


By dialling zero “0” in Canada from any phone, you get connected to an operator who may be able to place a collect call on your behalf or answer any other related questions you may have.


In case of an emergency such as fire, ambulance, police, etc, you may dial 911 from any phone in Canada. Dialling that number will connect you with an emergency dispatcher. Calling this number with a false alarm is considered a serious offence that may land you in court.

Further reading

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