How to Call Italy From the United States of America and Canada

Even though you will not need international calling skills to contact Summer In Italy (we provide a USA/Canada toll-free number for your convenience, and a toll-free fax number as well), there is still a good chance that as you plan your vacation you find yourself in need to place a few phone calls to bella Italia (to book a tour, a private transfer, or maybe a table at a restaurant).

Calling Italy from the United States or Canada is easy, when you know how to do it right.  There is one big pitfall, the so-called leading zero mess, and I will tell you how to avoid it.  So pick up the phone and read on.

Let's assume you want to call our Italian office at +39 089 842 6126.

First thing to do is to dial the international access code.  For the USA and Canada it is 011.  When you see an international phone number that starts with a +, it means that you need to replace the + with international access code for the country you are calling from. 

Next, dial Italy country code.  That is 39.  You can not place a call to Italy from the US or Canada without dialing 011 39.

Now, the phone number: 089 842 6126.  And here is the tip you have been waiting for:  for almost every country in the world you need to drop the leading zero when you call from abroad (and by leading zero I mean the 0 in 089); for Italy, instead, you keep the leading zero. You end up dialing 011 39 089 842 6126.

The rule changed in 1999, and it is often cause of confusion because older guides or instructions are obviously wrong.  Also, it is not uncommon to find phone numbers that look like this: +39 (0)89 123 4567. When you see a zero in within () it normally means: drop this if you are dialing internationally. Wrong! Keep the zero, your number is being shown in an out-of-date format.

Another source of confusion are mobile numbers.  Italian mobile numbers always begin with a 3 (for example 338 123 4567, 347 123 4567).  When you dial a mobile number from abroad you do not add a leading zero to it.  In other words, you dial: 011 39 338 123 4567. If you add a zero (don't!) you might end up calling a landline in the north of Italy, and you will think you just have the wrong number.

Two more tips that might spare you a headache:

  • Italian phone numbers have variable length. If you are given a number with only 9 digits it is not wrong, it's just short.
  • Not every number can be called from abroad. You might not able to call numbers that begin with a digit that is not 0 nor 3. For example, 800 or 199 numbers (which are commonly used by call centers) might not be reachable from abroad. Many companies provide alternate numbers for foreign countries.

I hope the points above will make planning your trip to Italy easier!




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