The phone number is a critical resource for all operators. Whether they manage this resource themselves, whether it is a destination or an identifier, it is a crucial element for the end-user and the entire technological ecosystem that surrounds it. To be confident about their use, we are going to give the keys to the use of local numbers in several European countries.
Bonjour! We are going to talk about French telephone numbers 🇫🇷, numeric or alphanumeric codes identifying the sender or the receiver of a voice or SMS communication in France. As in most countries and in particular, in all European countries, their use responds to a certain number of rules and codes. The purpose of this guide is to give the practical keys to their use, the regulatory limits, and future developments.
French phone numbers:
- +33 for metropolitan France,
- +262 for Reunion and Mayotte,
- +508 for Saint Pierre and Miquelon,
- +590 for Guadeloupe, Saint-Barthélemy and Saint-Martin,
- +594 for Guyana,
- +596 for Martinique.
National 10-digit long number format: 0C CC CC CC CC
International format long number +33 and 9 digits: +33 C CC CC CC CC,
Geographic: +33 1/2/3/4/5 CC CC CC CC
Non-Geographic or Polyvalents: +33 9 CC CC CC CC
Polyvalents numbers usable for exchanges with a technical platform: +33 9 37CC CC CC, +33 9 38 CC CC CC and from +33 9 39 0C CC CC to +33 9 39 4C CC CC (Metropolitan France)
Verified polyvalents numbers: +33 9 CC CC CC CC, verified to the extent that the user can demonstrate that he has received authorization from the assignee for its use.
Special: +33 8 CC CC CC CC
- 0800 to 0805: Toll-free numbers;
- 0806 to 0809: Grey (“Gris”) numbers (National call rate) ;
- 0810 to 0899: magenta numbers (premium rate)
Mobile Numbers: +33 6/7 CC CC CC CC
Extended Mobile M2M – Machine to Machine numbers (13 or 14 digits): +33 700 PQM CDU WXYZ
- 10 PQ: Four-digit shortcodes reserved for telephone operator services
- 3BPQ: 4-digit shortcode for corporate and institutional value-added services
- 3BPQR: 5 digits short number for sending marketing and transactional SMS. These numbers can be dedicated or shared between several service providers. They can be associated with the display of an alphanumeric sending identifier (text and numbers, ex: ZARA)
- 118XYZ (Directory services)
112 (European emergency number), 15 (Ambulance), 17 (Police), 18 (Fire brigade), 114 (Emergency SMS), 115 (Social emergency number or “SAMU social”), 116 000 (Missing children hotline or SOS missing children), 116 111 (Child helpline) 116 117 (Non-emergency medical number), 119 (Child helpline or SOS child abuse) 191 (Air accident emergency service), 196 (Maritime rescue helpline), 197 (Kidnapping alert or Attack alert)
French DIDs Current use
What is allowed:
- Use as an identifier of the communicant (voice and SMS) for local interpersonal use, assigned by the elementary geographical zone of numbering (ZNE) for the geographical numbers or nationally for the non-geographical numbers.
- Authorized for use in conference call bridges.
- Two-way SMS usage is allowed but not widely used.
What is not:
- Prohibition of use outside the national territory unless the operator operating the number can authenticate the calling user located outside the French territory and ensures compliance with the conditions of use of this number.
- Prohibition of use in call centers except for "verified" polyvalents numbers, polyvalents numbers "usable for exchanges with a technical platform" and "authenticated" polyvalents numbers
Authorized examples outside the territory: nomadic users on occasional international trips or call centres located abroad wishing to make calls by presenting the number of their principal company based in France.
- Prohibition of use of automated call or SMS/MMS sending systems. Except in the case of innovative uses using artificial intelligence (chatbots, voice bots, or personal assistants) where their use is authorized.
What is allowed:
Use as a communicator identifier for 2 types of interpersonal usages:
- Mobile voice, SMS and data usage on SIM cards for interpersonal use
- Mobile voice, SMS as a secondary or temporary number. The mobile number is then attributable outside the provision of a GSM mobile access (mobile subscription) but its use must remain associated with mobile access (GSM). The maximum number of secondary mobile numbers per physical user is restricted to 1 number.
Mobile numbers can be used as caller IDs presented to the called party for calls or SMS/MMS messages made by end-users located outside of France but justifying a stable link involving a frequent and significant presence on the national territory.
What is not:
- Prohibition of use of automated call and SMS/MMS sending systems with forbidden mobile access, except in the context of innovative usage with artificial intelligence (chatbots, voice bots, or personal assistants)
- Prohibited for use for call centres or in a conference bridge use case without mobile access
⚠️ Beware of mobile numbers (in the format +33 6 or +33 7) associated with satellite access, or with paging usage whose calls prices are generally very high. Remember to exclude these numbers from your routing at the risk of having a surprise on your bill.
M2M Extended Mobile Numbers:
What is allowed:
Machine to machine use is authorized whether it is interpersonal or not. Usage is also authorized from automated call and SMS/MMS sending systems attached to a mobile access
No territoriality restrictions, even though you must be able to collect national communications
Special numbers: premium rate, national toll and toll-free
What is allowed:
Special numbers are used by service editors to provide value-added services over the phone. Those DIDs are reachable nationally and for some of them internationally.
The billing of calls to special numbers follows the “C+S” model
- the “C” corresponding to the price of the telephone call, fixed by the end user’s operator. It is charged at the price of a national call, according to the offer subscribed by the end-user.
- the “S” corresponding to the price of the service, set by the content publisher. The service can be free. If it is paid, the billing is done by the call (fixed price whatever the duration of the communication) or by the duration (variable price calculated by the second from the first second).
The costs for the “S” component, fixed by the content provider, have maximums allowed of 3€ including taxes/call and 0.8€ including taxes/min.
- Freephone numbers, “C” and “S” are free for the end-user
- Grey numbers (national toll), the “S” is free for the end-user
- Magenta numbers (increased), “C” and “S” are charged to the user
089 numbers are used for automated calling and SMS/MMS systems without mobile access.
Shortcodes for SMS
Short numbers are dedicated to the sending of massive or automated SMS. There are two main types:
36PQR: For promotional messages or customer information (product promotion, offers, events, or points of sale)
- The sending of marketing SMS is restricted to open days of the week between 8 am and 8 pm, and Saturday from 10 am to 8 pm. It is therefore forbidden to send marketing SMS on Sundays and holidays
- The recipient of these SMS must have given his explicit consent (Opt-in) and must be able to unsubscribe by sending “STOP” by SMS to the sender (Opt-out). The unsubscribe option must be explicit in the SMS and free of charge
38PQR: For transactional messages, used for authentication or to confirm a reservation, an appointment, or a purchase
- Transactional SMS have no time, day, or subscription restrictions
Modification of the caller ID
What is not allowed:
As a rule, the modification of the communicator’s number during an outgoing communication is not authorized, the communicator must be able to be recontacted on the number he/she presents during an outgoing communication. Exceptions exist, however, notably in the case of professional communication (incoming or outgoing) through a single company number
The French DIDs news
Geographic and non-geographic DIDs merger
First phase (already completed):
Extension of the geographical perimeter for the conservation of geographical numbers in case of relocation within the same area code (ZNE)
As of January 1, 2020, it is possible to keep a geographic number when moving outside the number allocation area code (ZNE) as long as the user remains within the geographic zone (+331/2/3/4/5) on which the said ZNE depends. Otherwise, the number must be retired.
The initial assignment rules based on the ZNEs of the geo number must still be respected, except in the case of the assignment of additional and consecutive numbers to numbers already assigned to the end-user. In this case, the operator can continue to assign numbers from the initial ZNE to this end-user.
⚠️ Non-geographic numbers change their name and become “polyvalent” numbers.
Second phase (January 1, 2023):
The category of geographic numbers merges with the category of “polyvalent” (non-geographic) numbers as of January 1, 2023, to form a single category. The old geographic numbers are then subject to the same conditions of use and eligibility and the same terms of allocation to end-users as “polyvalent” numbers. The geographical criterion disappears. Except for “Reunion Island – 0262, 0263, Mayotte – 0269 and other territories of the Indian Ocean”. The Tier-allocation of the old geographic numbers (+33 1/2/3/4/5), which was still enabled until then on those types of numbers, will no longer be authorized except on the resources allocated before January 1st 2023.
We also note the creation of the category of authenticated “polyvalent” numbers that meet the same conditions as those mentioned below
The French DIDs FAQ
What about DIDs re-allocation from an operator to another operator?
The allocation from one operator to another is no longer allowed for mobile, non-geographic numbers but not is still allowed for mobile and geographic numbers assigned before July 31, 2018, or geographic numbers.
The situation in the market is therefore not clear-cut.
The reality is that there are too many ZNEs to cover from the start for an operator to be able to provide a national geographic number service with its ranges. It is therefore natural to authorize the allocation of numbers between the “depositing operator” and the third party called the “depositary operator” of geographic numbers so that local players can serve their customers nationally. And this until there is no more geographical constraint to the allocation of fixed numbers (in January 2023)
As far as mobile and non-geographic numbers are concerned, the reading of the regulation must be pragmatic in our view. Firstly because the regulation does not apply to numbers assigned before July 2018, a large majority of numbers in circulation can still be reallocated. Secondly, the objective of the regulation is to ensure that the operator who has been allocated numbers remains in control of the numbers it has received, particularly in the context of its obligations to the judicial and police services.
Thus, it is not conceivable that the depositing operator makes a number available to a third-party operator without any technical link. One cannot “give away” the allocated numbers in a way. This control can nevertheless be carried out if there is a continuous technical link between the end-user and the depositing operator if the end user’s information is known and shared, and if there is transparency as to who allocates the Did. Thus, the depositing operator can meet all its regulatory obligations if the third party operator is a distributor of its technical solution to the end-user, and the depositing operator technically assigns the number to the end-user within the framework of the commercial conditions between the depositing operator, the third-party operator and the end-user. The reality of the technical link guarantees the respect of the regulation.
It is in our opinion a necessity to have this flexibility on the market because even if the costs necessary to the attribution of the non-geo and mobile number ranges are indeed low, the costs necessary to their operation, linked to communication collection via a national operator and to their portability are unattainable for the majority of the alternative actors of the market. A too strict reading of the regulation would mark the end of most of the alternative telephony offers, which goes against the regulator’s initiatives to open the market further.
Is it necessary to declare be declared to use French telephone numbers?
Legally, yes, moreover the declaration is not very complicated to fill via the online form of the ARCEP (We can help). What is complicated is managing the numbering resources, hence the subject of the re-allocation of numbers. In this case, the responsibility lies with the allocated operator who provides the numbers and who ensures that the regulation on these numbers is respected, it is, therefore, necessary that there is a technical and commercial link between the allocated operator, the service provider, and the end-user on the use of these numbers. This includes sharing with the declared operator end-user information and use cases so that the operator and the service provider can together ensure that the resources provided correspond to the authorized user and that the operator can meet all its regulatory obligations. Choose wisely your provider, there must be full transparency between the two of you!
What are authenticated mobile/fixed numbers?
Authenticated numbers are mobile or fixed numbers allowing to ensure that the end-user of the number has the authorization of the assigner for this use which reduces the risk of number spoofing
“Operators using authenticated numbers shall make available to other operators a mechanism enabling them to ensure in real-time and in an automated manner, call by call and message by message, that the conditions of use for the use of these authenticated numbers as caller IDs are respected. In particular, this mechanism allows verifying that the use of an authenticated number has received the explicit agreement of the assignee of the said number to be used as a caller ID in each call or message where it appears.”
The authenticated mobile numbers have the following prefix: +33 7 46 and +33 7 47 and their allocation is already possible theoretically. The uses remain however modest.
How long do I have to wait before reassigning a French number to a new user?
The freezing time of used numbers before reuse is between forty-five (45) and one hundred and twenty (120) days.
How long do I have to assign a French number to a user?
The minimum duration of use of the numbers for a user is 72 hours.
This is an informative post only, not legal advice and we do not pretend to give a definitive reading of the regulation and use of the numbers. We are open to remarks so don’t hesitate to send us your comments on this subject or ask us via the form on the home page 😉.