Can I Have an 020 Number For My VoIP Phone?

By Emma Lewis, bOnline

On the 22nd April 2000, the 020 area code fully replaced all previous London area codes that had regularly changed during the 1990s. It standardised London numbers and made them much more recognisable.

Numbers that have 020 as a prefix include:

  • Outer London (E15 to 18, NW3 to 7, RM9 to 17, TW8 to 19)
  • Inner London (E14, EC1 to 4, N1 to 22, SE1 to 20, SW1 to 20, W1 to 14)
  • Surrounding areas (HP23 and 24, IG2 and 3, MK41 to 48, NW9 to 11)

With the landline switch off due to complete by 2025, many businesses are looking to VoIP moving forward. It’s part of a plan to upgrade the phone and fibre network that’s being underway for some time.

As traditional copper lines become obsolete (in fact Openreach will no longer sell them from this coming September), VoIP is filling the gap with more business-friendly features and ever-improving ease of use. Plus, as VoIP phone calls are made using the internet, the sound quality is drastically improved.

You don’t even need to have a VoIP handset either, you can access your VoIP system and make calls using your smartphone or tablet.

Is It Legal To Have An 020 Number If You’re Not In London?

Of course! Any area code, including 020, can be used for both businesses and residential numbers, even if they’re not actually located physically in London.

In fact it’s a very popular way of boosting the appeal of your business to local customers and suppliers. Not only that, but appearing to be London-based can give your business a certain prestige and professionalism.

What Other Benefits Are There Of Having An 020 Virtual Number?

There are many advantages to having a virtual 020 VoIP number. For example:

  • To offer your customers a single point of contact, even if you have multiple team members spread across a wide geographical area
  • To build a national branding strategy
  • To give a more professional look by not having multiple different area codes displayed across your website and marketing materials
  • When a customer dials your 020 number, their calls are instantly redirected to one of your existing phone numbers automatically. They won’t know that their call is being redirected, or that they’re not actually calling London
  • You can often redirect calls for a short period of time, for example during evenings and weekends, to another phone without your customers realising. However, your 020 number will stay exactly the same
  • To offer better customer service. Many VoIP providers now let you add a broad mix of service-enhancing features to your virtual London number. For example, you can log into your VoIP system and tweak your call flow to give your customers options as to which department they speak to. You can also divert their calls to answerphone at busy times automatically so customers aren’t frustrated by having to ring back later. Other useful features include video calling and call queuing
  • It’s easier if you decide to move. Perhaps you’ve started your business physically located in London but now you’re looking to cut costs and move elsewhere or even go fully remote. A virtual 020 number simply means you can redirect your incoming calls to your new number. No need to reprint your stationery or change your website!
  • There’s no additional lines or equipment to buy as your business grows. Virtual phone lines aren’t tied to a specific handset. All you need to do if you take on extra staff is log them on to your existing VoIP system, saving you time and money

Top Tip: Find a VoIP Provider That Offers a Free Trial

Some VoIP providers offer free, no obligation trials of their services. This is a great way to test out all the features on offer, like call divert, hold music, call analytics, voicemail, video calling and much more.

How Do I Get an 020 Number?

Make sure you also choose a VoIP provider who can set you up with an 020 number from the outset, or who can help you switch if you need to. They should be able to offer a complete set up service for you quickly so you don’t need any technical knowledge yourself.

You may also want to go for a VoIP provider that has shorter 12-month contracts for instance rather than being tied into something for longer.

There are quite a few VoIP providers out there so it’s really worth doing your homework.

Some, like London-based bOnline, specialise specifically in very small businesses, including startups and freelancers whereas others are more focussed on larger companies or residential customers. It’s about choosing the right one for your business, balancing maximum features and quality against the ideal price point.