How to make phone calls in South Africa


Making calls in South Africa is simple. The country has a closed numbering system consisting of ten digits. Local and area codes are already included in all national telephone numbers.

In 2007, South Africa switched to a closed numbering system. Today, telephone numbers are ten digits long, including a three digit area code (except for some Telkom services). The national prefix is 0, plus a geographically assigned number. For example, 011 is Johannesburg, 012 Pretoria, and 021 Cape Town.

Mobile prefixes are:

  • 081- 8ta
  • 082, 072, 076 and 079 - Vodacom
  • 083, 073 and 078 - MTN
  • 084 and 074 - Virgin Mobile and Cell C

Toll free services are the ones that begin at 08 and 080.

International calls

If you want to make an international call from South Africa, dial 00 plus the country and area code of the country you are trying to reach. If you are calling South Africa from abroad, the country code is 27, and you must drop the first 0 from the city code or mobile phone code. This means you will dial the international access code of the country you are in, plus 27, and the last nine digits of the telephone number in South Africa (e.g., if you're calling from the United States to Cape Town, dial 011 + 27 + 21 and the other seven digits).

International rates can be expensive and might vary from one service to another. There are alternatives such as international calling cards which can be used on every public phone.

Premium rates

The following are premium rate numbers:

  • 086 - Premium rate and “sharecall” numbers (0860 are charged at local rates, 0861 at flat rates)
  • 0866 - premium-rated fax to mail services
  • 087 - value-added services (e.g. VoIP)
  • 088 - pagers and Telkom voice mail
  • 089 - polls and radio call-in services

There is no fixed rate for premium rate numbers. Contact your provider for more information.

Further reading

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