🇩🇪 Practical guide to German fixed and mobile Dids – Which number for which usage?

Forest walk illustration for German telephone numbers

Hallo und Willkommen!

Let’s talk about German phone numbers 🇩🇪 . Germany is not an exception in the European landscape regarding the complexity of its regulation and the diversity of uses of its phone numbers. In this guide, we will give you all the practical rules of German number usage.

German phone numbers:

International Codes:

  • +49 for the whole country

Standard national format, long number between 10 and 13 digits: 0CC CCCC CCCC or 0CCC CCCC CCCC.

International format, long number +49 and 9 or 13 digits: +49 C CCCC CCCC, or +49 CC CCCC CCCC.

Fixed Numbers:

Geographic: +49 2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9 CCCC CCCC.

Exception (numbers without geographical indication):

  • +49 700 CCCC CCCC: Personally assigned numbers.
  • +49 800 CCCC CCCC: Toll-free numbers.
  • +49 900 CCCC CCCC: Premium rate numbers.

Non-geographic:

Fixed nationals: +49 32C CCCC CCCC: VOIP (non-geographic).

Special: +49 1 CCCC CCCC

  • Short-term mass traffic services (e.g. telephone voting): +49 137 CCC CCCC.
  • Virtual private network numbers (not available to the public): +49 18 CCCC CCCC.

Exception: Shared cost numbers: +49 180 CCC CCCC

  • Online services: +49 19 CCCC CCCC.

Mobile Numbers:

German mobile numbers belong to the category of non-geographic numbers: +49 15/16/17 CCCC CCCC.

Short numbers :

Operator numbers:

  • 10 PQ: Four-digit short numbers reserved for telephone operator services.

Special numbers:

  • 3BPQ – Value Added Services.
  • 118 PQ – Directories.
  • 19,222 – Non-emergency medical transportation.

Emergency Numbers:

  • 110 – Police.
  • 112 – Fire, ambulance, emergency services (also the universal emergency number in the EU).
  • 115 – Civil services and public administration; requests are either answered directly or forwarded to the appropriate authority.
  • 116 BPQ – Harmonized telephone services of social value
    • 116 000 – Missing Children Hotline.
    • 116 006 – Helpline for victims of crime.
    • 116 111 – Helpline for children in distress.
    • 116 117 – Non-emergency medical on-call service.
    • 116 123 – Emotional Support Hotline.

German Dids Current use

Fixed Numbers:

What is allowed:

  • Use as an identifier of the communicant (voice) for local interpersonal use. These numbers are assigned by geographic numbering area (ONB) in case of geographic numbers or nationally for non-geographic numbers (VOIP).
  • Authorized for use in conference call bridges.
  • Voice usage only, SMS usage not allowed.

What is not:

  • De facto it is prohibited to allocate those geographic and non-geographic numbers outside the national territory

In the case of cloud PBX usage, the assigned numbers are either assigned based on the geographical location of the equipment or based on the location of the end-user.

When assigning numbers in an elementary area (ONB), the user must provide proof of domicile in the form of an official document (identity card or company registration certificate).

Mobile Numbers:

What is allowed:

Use as a communicator identifier for mobile interpersonal uses:

  • The assignment of German mobile numbers is done within the framework of interpersonal voice, SMS, and data usage on a mobile cellular network and serves to identify the communicants within this framework.
  • However, once assigned, mobile numbers can also be used for routing outgoing or incoming communications outside the framework of mobile cellular access (voWifi for example).
  • Sending SMS for marketing and transactional purposes is not prohibited on these long mobile numbers without being explicitly allowed. They are particularly relevant in a marketing or transactional scenario requiring a 2-way SMS communication between correspondents. Outside of this scenario and in case of massive SMS sending it will be preferable to use a short number (see below).

What is not:

  • Prohibition of attribution outside the national territory.

⚠️ Beware of mobile numbers for paging purposes (+49 164, +49 168, +49 169), which despite their mobile format are generally more expensive to reach than traditional mobile numbers.

  • Prohibition of attribution outside the national territory.

Machine to Machine Usage:

  • Mobile numbers can be used as identifiers for technical devices such as machines, vending machines, vehicles, or measuring devices (e.g. electricity, gas, and water meters).
  • The use of these numbers and the transmission of communication is allowed in the M2M framework both through wired and wireless access.
  • The involvement of a human in the use of these numbers in the M2M context does not mean de facto that this use is no longer M2M. For example, M2M uses such as “smart home”, “eCall” or emergency call in elevators in which a human establishes a communication are allowed. A complete list of M2M uses involving humans is to be published by the German regulator (Bundesnetzagentur).
  • The allocation must be done on the national territory, the use can nevertheless be permanently outside the national territory within the framework of an M2M use. This use is subject to special notification to the regulator.

Special numbers :

  • Shared cost numbers (0180)
    • This number is used for the provision of service over the phone to the caller on a call cost-shared basis between the caller and the service provider.
    • Applicants for this type of number must provide a residential or business contact address in Germany (legal entities must also provide the contact information of their legal representative(s)). Applicants based abroad must provide the contact details of an authorized recipient with a notification address in Germany.
    • Applicants must also provide proof of identity through an official document (individual or corporate).
    • The rates charged on these numbers must have a rate level from 1 to 7 and must be clearly defined before the communication. 
      • The numbers 0180 1/3/5/7 will be charged by the minute with a maximum of 42 cents/min from mobile and up to 14 cents/min from a fixed-line. 
      • The 0180 2/4 numbers will be charged by the minute with a maximum of 42 cents/min from mobiles and by the call with a maximum of 20 cents per call from a fixed-line. 
      • Finally, the 0180 6 numbers will be charged per call with a maximum of 20 cents per call from a landline and 60 cents per call from a mobile. 
  • Premium rate numbers (0900)
    • This number is used for the provision of service over the phone to the caller with a surcharged call cost applied to the caller by the following service providers:
      • 0900 1: Information service (legal advice, news, weather, etc.).
      • 0900 3: Entertainment (also Astro services).
      • 0900 5: Other services (chat, dating, adult entertainment).
      • 0900 9: Payment by phone.
    • Applicants for this type of number must provide a residential or business contact address in Germany (legal entities must also provide the contact information of their legal representative(s)). Applicants based abroad must provide the contact details of an authorized recipient with a notification address in Germany.
    • Applicants must also provide proof of identity through an official document (individual or corporate).
    • The rates charged on these numbers are free within the maximums described by the law and must be clearly defined before the communication.
      • Maximum on a per-minute basis: 3€/min from a fixed phone. No maximum for mobiles.
      • Maximum on a per-call basis: €10/call from a landline, not available from mobiles.
  • Toll-free numbers (0800)
    • This number is used for the provision of service over the phone with a free national call cost for the caller.
    • The service provided as part of the call may be subject to a fee in the case of a separate contract between the caller and the service provider. The caller must be fully aware of this contract. The billing of the paid service cannot be done through the telephone bill.
    • Applicants for this type of number must provide a residential or business contact address in Germany (legal entities must also provide the contact information of their legal representative(s)). Applicants based abroad must provide the contact details of an authorized recipient with a notification address in Germany.
    • Applicants must also provide proof of identity through an official document (individual or corporate).

Special short numbers for SMS :

  • Use of “Shortcode” or short numbers to send SMS for marketing and transactional purposes.
  • These shortcodes usually support an alphanumeric format (including letters and numbers) as an identifier for sending SMS. 
  • The user of the number must have received the explicit consent of the local recipient to send him/her an SMS and must allow the recipient to unsubscribe from the recipient list. To do this, the recipient will send “STOP” by SMS in response to the marketing/transactional SMS. 
  • Unlike mobile long numbers, short numbers cannot be used as a two-way communication medium and therefore cannot receive SMS.
  • The user of this type of number must provide a residential or business contact address in Germany (legal entities must also provide the details of their legal representative(s)).

Handling of the communication identifier : 

Globally, the modification of the communicant’s phone number during an outgoing call is not authorized, the communicant must be able to be recontacted on the number he/she presents during an outgoing call.

The German Dids news

A “discussion draft” for a new German telecommunications law:

On November 6, 2020, the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology published the first draft of a law to modernize telecommunications law (“TKMoG”) and submitted it for consultation.

These are the main proposed changes that will have an impact on the use of German phone numbers:

  • The draft proposes a new definition of communications services, notably by including a distinction in the means of interpersonal communications, between those requiring a number and those not requiring one, such as OTT messaging services, voice and video communication (Whatsapp, Zoom…). The consequence of this new definition is first that the regulation will have to be applied more finely according to the use of the numbers or not and especially that it ratifies the application of the telecom regulation to OTT services, which benefited until now from a legal vagueness concerning their framework.
  • The definition of the geographical application of the regulation should no longer be understood in the context of the use of telecom resources but in the context of activity on the German market. Thus, this regulation could apply to international players operating in Germany without having a presence there. (Permanent roaming, foreign OTT).
  • The obligation to access or open up services to interconnection could be extended to non-number-related services. This could push for the opening of OTT messaging services, for example.
  • A new category will be created for permanent roaming use outside Germany. These numbers would be for Machine-to-machine (M2M) use only.

The French Dids FAQ

Is the sub-allocation of phone numbers by an operator to a third-party operator authorized?

Sub-allocation is authorized for non-geographic numbers (including mobile numbers) and geographic numbers. For mobile numbers, sub-allocation is only allowed within the framework of an MVNO contract with the provision of cellular access by the main beneficiary.

The right to sub-allocate numbers allows the assignee to instruct a third party to sub-allocate numbers based on a contract. Depending on the contract, the end-users of the numbers may be customers of the primary assignee or the third party. Even if a third party is involved, the primary assignee remains liable in all respects to the German Federal Agency. Trading in blocks of numbers, i.e. subcontracting or transfer of primary allocations, is prohibited. Thus, the primary assignee must maintain a technical link to the end-user and ensure the conformity of the number assignment and usage.

Advertising and marketing activities suggesting that a block of numbers is “available for sale” or for use in exchange for payment of a premium are prohibited.

Do I have to register to use German phone numbers?

Legally, yes, and it is necessary to justify a correspondence address in Germany, even if this declaration is open to all actors providing public telecom services in Germany without discrimination of the country of origin. The management of the numbers is then the responsibility of the operator. The latter must be able to collect the flows on the numbers, manage portability, emergency calls and comply technically and operationally with the obligations relating to judicial requisitions and legal tapping. This includes in particular the collection of end-user information during number assignment and usage information. In this context, the operator must also ensure the protection and confidentiality of end-user information and their telecoms usage. The retention of communication information should not exceed 10 weeks (including CDRs). For a new entrant, it is, therefore, easier to start its activity through several sub-allocation contracts and to leave the regulatory aspects to its partner. If you want to develop your business in Germany based on German numbers, contact us!

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 😉.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *