Telephone Numbers

Spanish Telephone Numbers

by Steve Day

Whether you have been in Spain for just a few days or for years one of the things which confuses many foreigners is telephone numbers. There is a logical system of numbering in.

There are two main groups of numbers - those beginning in 6 and those beginning in 9. Mobile phone numbers begin in 6 and fixed line phone numbers begin in 9. in 1997 there were 12 million fixed line numbers and 1 million mobile numbers. In 2013 there were approximately 17 million fixed numbers and 25 million, and rising, mobile numbers.

If the number begins with 9 you can tell the location of the person or business by the second number. For instance a number starting with 91 is in Madrid, a 93 number is from Barcelona and a 95 number indicates Andalucia. 

The numbers which cause most confusion are the ones starting with 90. These numbers can only be called using Movistar and can be divided into two groups.

903 to 909 numbers are for special services, for instance 909 numbers are being used for flat rate Internet access plans by some companies. 903 to 906 numbers are for various premium rate services. Be aware that when you are calling these numbers you are paying more than the standard rates for phone calls. 906 numbers especially are used by pornographic services, TV competitions, and any service where the company receiving the call wants to make money out of you phoning them. Game shows like "Who wants to be a millionaire" and "Survivor" receive millions of calls and make huge sums of money from them. Most of the cost of these calls is passed onto the companies supplying the services - only the normal cost of a national phone call is kept by the phone company.

The numbers 900, 901 and 902 are used by businesses to encourage you to call them and to allow them to operate nationally without the need for local numbers in each area. People are often very wary of calling businesses that they know to be on the far side of the country. For instance the Linea Directa insurance company uses a 902 number in all of their advertising. Do you know where there offices are?

900 Numbers

900 numbers are freephone numbers in Spain. You do not pay for this call. The company offering this number is interested in receiving the maximum number of calls and will pay the full cost of these calls.

901 Numbers

901 numbers are low cost call numbers. You pay less than the cost of a provincial call (for example within Malaga province) using Telefónica. The company wants to receive calls from clients prepared to pay a small cost to contact them but does not want freeloaders. (Believe it or not there are people who spend there leisure time calling freephone numbers) The company receiving the calls does not pay for calls coming from within the same province and pays a small charge for interprovincial (national) calls and calls from mobiles.

902 Numbers

The client pays the full cost of these calls which is less than the standard rate for an "interprovincial" (national) call using Telefónica. In this case the company only wishes to receive calls from people prepared to pay the full cost of contacting the company.

Call Costs

The cost in euro cents of calls to these numbers is set out below:

900 numbers - Free

901 numbers - Connection Peak Off-peak
Provincial:        4,51       4,05       2,01
Interprovincial:    4,51    4,05       2,01
Mobile: Price differs with each mobile phone company

902 numbers: Connection Peak Off-peak
Provincial:        9,02        8,10     4,03
Interprovincial:        9,02     8,10     4,03
Mobile: Price differs with each mobile phone company

Why use one of these numbers in Spain?

The major differences between one of these numbers and a normal fixed line telephone number is that they are not associated with a local telephone exchange and they are very flexible and cheap. A company (or individual) can "attach" one of these phone numbers to a telephone in any location. This telephone does not even have to be in Spain. It can be anywhere in the world. All you need is another phone number to "attach" it to.

Calls to these numbers can be received in different locations depending on the time of day, day of the week, and day of the year. For instance you could receive calls in an office in Marbella during working hours and in a house or call centre in London at the evenings and in New York at the weekends.

Call reception can be split. You could receive 30% of calls in Marbella, 30% in London, and 40% in New York. Using only one number you could receive calls from Andalucia in Marbella, calls from Levante in Alicante and calls from the Balearics in Palma de Mallorca.

When you move your number moves. If you move office your number moves with you. If there is a disaster and your phones no longer work the number can be moved immediately and "attached" to another number.

Anyone can have one of these numbers. They  cost about 20 euros per month from a competitive provider and can give a "big" image to a small company or individual.

Living in Andalucia