Area code to be compulsory from 2002

Biel-Bienne, 10.05.2001 - From March 2002 at the latest, local calls will always have to be dialled using the area code. Telephone numbers will remain unchanged, but the code will become a fixed component of the number.

The Federal Communications Commission (ComCom) has decided to make sure in good time that sufficient numbers will be available. From various alternatives, it has opted for a solution which is cost efficient and simple to implement. This decision will provide 25% more numbers, with the positive side effect that dialling procedures will be harmonised and therefore simplified. The New Numbering Plan 2002 can be implemented right now. All telephone subscribers in Switzerland will soon be receiving written information from OFCOM with their telephone bills.

What is the point of the New Numbering Plan 2002?

Switzerland is making ever greater use of the benefits of telecommunications. New equipment has been launched onto the market and new services have been developed. In order to continue to meet demand in the future after further innovations in the range of products and services, the essential capacity for the growing demand for telephone numbers must be provided. In order to provide sufficient numbers in good time, the Federal Communications Commission (ComCom) has decided on a numbering system which will come into effect from 29 March 2002 and which will be simple to implement. Current codes and telephone numbers will remain unchanged, but the area codes will always be dialled before the number, even when the call is being made within the same network group. Consequently, all numbers will have ten digits, or nine digits in network group 01. In addition to the 01 area code in the Zurich region, two new area codes, 043 and 044, will be introduced. It is planned to replace the 01 area code automatically by 044 between 2005 and 2007.

What does this mean for telephone users?

In future all telephone calls, even local calls, will be made using the area code. It is possible right now to use all ten digits within the local area, and from 29 March 2002 it will be essential to do this. This applies to all telephone numbers in the fixed network (including ISDN and fax numbers) and in the mobile network. Within the local area, a mere 10% of calls in the fixed network currently include the area code; in the mobile network some 70% of calls are made using all ten digits within the same network. Preparations for the New Numbering Plan 2002 can be made right now. All telephone numbers which have been programmed into memories without the area code must be adapted to the new format, e.g. in telephones, fax machines, mobiles, computers, personal organisers, alarm systems or security systems. Labels, rubber stamps and business stationery will also have to be amended.

Effect on charges

In principle, the New Numbering Plan 2002 will have no effect on charges. Telephone users who make calls using preselection are advised to ask their provider which local rate he offers.

How should the ten-digit numbers be presented?

In principle, anyone is free to publish telephone numbers in any form they wish. There are no legal regulations. The following format is recommended:
international: +41 32 765 43 21 or +41 327 654 321 national: 032 765 43 21 or 0327 654 321

The hybrid form +41 (0)32 765 43 21 which is common in Switzerland is not recommended but is frequently used in practice. This format is especially confusing for callers from abroad and often leads to misdialling.

What will change:

Fixed network:
Always use the area code.

Example: Bern - Bern call

Previously: 765 43 21
New: 031 765 43 21

Mobile network:

Always use the area code 079, 078, 076.

Example: a call within the same network

Previously: 765 43 21
New: 079 765 43 21

Calls from the mobile network to the fixed network do not change.

What will stay the same:

National calls in the fixed network:
dial as before.

Example: Zurich - Bern call: 031 765 43 21

Emergency numbers and abbreviated numbers:
dial as before.

Example: 117 or 118

Abroad - Switzerland:
dial as before.

Example: +41 31 765 43 21

Switzerland - abroad:
dial as before.

Example: 0049 8765 43 21

Business Numbers:
dial as before.

Example: 0800 660 660

Address for enquiries

Press service OFCOM, 032 327 55 50


Federal Office of Communications