Local Phone Number Formats in India

In India, landline and mobile phones have similar, but different numbering schemes that affect dialing for inbound international and domestic long distance calls.

In fact, as compared to many countries where landline and mobile numbers are intermingled, in India landline and mobile numbers are set up on totally separate schemes. As a result, no landline number could ever be assigned to a mobile phone - and vice versa.

For inbound international callers (and domestic long distance callers), all India phone numbers, both landline and mobile, are ultimately 10-digits long - but how you get those 10-digits isn't the same.

These differences affect how you dial an inbound international call (or a domestic long distance call) - especially with respect to whether you do or do not include an explicit area code in your dialing sequence.

Read below for further information.

India online phone directories
India telephone companies

India Landline Phone Numbers

India landline phone numbers are always 10-digits long and include two parts: an area code and a local subscriber number.

The distinction between the two is not always obvious in the way the phone number is written - often the area code is broken out, but sometimes it is not.

India Landline Phone Number Format

 aaa   nnn nnnn 
local subscriber

India Area Codes

India landline area codes range from 2-digits to 4-digits. Larger metropolitan areas tend to have shorter area codes while smaller areas will have 4-digit codes.

In India, area codes are often called STDs or 'subscriber trunk dialing' codes. They may also be called SDCA codes or 'short distance calling area' codes (though this term is less common).

In written phone numbers, it is not uncommon to see the area code preceded by a ' 0 '. The ' 0 ' is India's national direct dialing (NDD) code used for making domestic long distance calls. If your are making an inbound international call and have a number starting with ' 0 ', you'll need to remove it.

You can find a complete list of India area codes here.

India Local Subscriber Numbers for Landlines

Landline subscriber numbers in India are 6, 7, or 8 digits long. The length corresponds to the applicable area code length where the total digits must be 10.

Here is a table recapping the respective code lengths.

Area Code Subscriber Number
2-digits 8-digits
3-digits 7-digits
4-digits 6-digits

Landline Subscriber Codes for Major India Carriers

Note that landline subscriber numbers are generally assigned in blocks to specific carriers, so if you are curious, you can generally tell what carrier services any given number.

Here are the starting digits for landline subscriber numbers for the leading fixed line carriers:

  • BSNL and MTNL landline numbers start with a '2'
  • Reliance Communications landline numbers start with a '3'
  • Bharti Airtel landline numbers start with a '4'
  • MTS (Shyam) landline numbers start with a '5'
  • Tata Indicom landline numbers start with a '6'
  • Datacom Solutions landline numbers start with a '7' (company has not yet launched services and they may be assigned a new number group prior to launch)

However, since these starting numbers apply only to the subscriber part of a phone number, the above information is useful only if you are able to separate the subscriber number from the area code.

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India Mobile Phone Numbers

India mobile phone numbers are simpler than landline numbers - they are always 10-digits long and no separate area code is required.

Deconstructed, an India mobile number consists of 3 parts.

India Mobile Phone Number Format

 9x   aaa   nnnnn 
mobile switch
local subscriber

However, most people in India write their mobile number as a solid block of 10 digits, although sometimes, people will break out the first 2 digits - e.g., 97 63643391.

Where Is that Mobile Number Located?

Whereas landline area codes can help you figure out where a landline number is located, you can't easily tell where a mobile number is located. That's because mobile numbers are assigned based on carriers as opposed to geography.

If you dig deeply into the mobile numbering scheme, you can get some clues about location, but generally, it's not worth the effort). Otherwise, there is no obvious way based simply on looking at the number.

Mobile Numbering Codes for Major India Carriers

As mentioned, mobile numbers are assigned in blocks to mobile carriers.

Here are the starting digits for a few of the leading mobile carriers:

  • BSNL mobile numbers start with a '94'
  • Reliance Communications mobile numbers generally start with a '93', although some start with '92'
  • Tata Indicom mobile numbers generally start with a '92', although some start with '93'
  • MTNL mobile numbers can start with a '97', '98', or '99'
  • Spice Communications mobile numbers can start with a '97', '98', or '99'
  • BPL Mobile mobile numbers can start with a '97', '98', or '99'
  • HFCL Ping Mobile mobile numbers generally start with a '98'
  • MTS Shyam mobile numbers generally start with a '98'
  • Bharti Airtel mobile numbers can start with a variety of access codes, including '90', '91', '97', '98', and '99'

Click here for more information on mobile phone numbering in India.

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Changeover to 11-Digit Mobile Numbers

Beginning in 2009 or possibly 2010, mobile phone numbers are expected to become 11-digits long. This is due to exceptional growth in demand for mobile phones in India.

As of this writing (Jan '09), details of this transition have not yet been finalized or announced - and there appears to be some disagreement among the players as to whether 11-digit numbers are, in fact, necessary. Apparently the need may be negated (or at least delayed) by making some other changes to India's numbering scheme.

However if the plan goes through, preliminary indications are that this change will be accomplished by adding an extra '9' to the start of all existing 10-digit mobile numbers. As a result, after the change all mobile numbers will continue to start with a '9' and many will start with '99'.

While authoritative information on the potential change is scant, you may refer to these sources for additional information.

We will post additional information as it becomes available. Or you can check directly with the sites shown at India telecom sources.

UPDATE: In a report dated March, 2009, TRAI is seeking to make adjustments to the national numbering system that would allow the 11-digit mobile scheme to be deferred for the some years. To accomplish this, some phone numbers recently assigned to Datacom Solutions would have to be reassigned. Read more (pdf)

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If you are glutton for punishment and want to learn more about subscriber numbers, mobile switching center (MSC) codes, etc., please read India's official National Numbering Plan [large pdf].

Click here for more information about India's telecommunications industry, including regulatory agencies and major trade groups.

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Lookup an India telephone number

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