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What Numbers are Toll Free In the USA?

Richard Bagnell
Richard Bagnell

Toll-Free numbers are distinctive when they show up on the caller ID. Their area code starts with an eight which makes it unlikely that the call is coming from a friend. We are pretty used to receiving calls from our local area so when a new area code shows up it can be worrying so we put together all the information you need to know about calling toll-free numbers, how they work and whether any costs are involved.

What Are The Toll-Free Area Codes?

Here is the list of toll-free area codes in the USA, they are: 800, 833, 844, 855, 866, 877 and 888. There is potential for more toll-free numbers to be added in the future. It is thought that 822 will be commissioned as a toll free number in the future.

How Do Toll-Free Numbers Work?

Toll-Free numbers work by charging the operator of the line. So when they are called within the USA, the company or entity operating the line is charged. For example, if you call the American Express or Delta Airlines toll free number from the USA, the company will be charged for the call and not you.

They are generally used by customer service departments for companies looking to offer their customers a chance to talk to them, without incurring a charge for the call. It especially helps with long distance, out of state calls, as charges may otherwise be high.

Are Toll-Free Numbers Free Internationally?

Toll Free numbers are not toll-free internationally and if make a call to one, you may be exposed to internationally calling fees as well as domestic charges. In this situation it is best to check with your calling provider about their charges for international calls.

Even for countries within the North American Numbering Plan (NANP), you may be charged international rates for calling a toll-free number if it's from a different country.

What Countries Are In The North American Numbering Plan?

Here is a list of the 24 countries within the North American Numbering: American Samoa, Anguilla,  Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guam, Jamaica, Montserrat, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Maarten, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States and the United States Virgin Islands. The plan was devised in the early nineteenth century, and initially included just the United States and Canada but after being requested to expand the program by the British Colonial Office, other countries got involved too.

At the time of its NANP's implementation, there were only 86 codes and only the five largest cities could use these codes. 212 was given to New York City, 312 to Chicago, 215 to Philadelphia, 213 to Los Angeles, and 313 to Detroit. In addition, the middle digit 0 was assigned to represent the area of a state or province. On the other hand, the middle digit 1 represented that the code is assigned to the range of multiple areas.

Meanwhile, because of the increasing demand for telephone service and telecom deregulation of local phones, there was a rapid growth in the number of area codes in the United States and Canada, especially from 1990 to 2005. The number allocations were made in 10,000-number blocks by default to a new local service provider in a market during the original design of the numbering plan.

Generally, the addition of area codes was in form of splits of overlays. For that matter, the same geographical area was assigned different codes. For the special purposes, the codes ending with double digits were used, for example, toll-free numbers: 800, 888, 877, 866, and 855, high-toll numbers: 900, and personal numbers: 700. Therefore, the effects on the telephone users vary depending upon the methods and techniques used for that particular area code expansion. Those areas that use overlays mostly ignore the conversion of telephone numbers.

How To Get A Toll-Free Number

Toll Free numbers are often assigned by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in order of application, so the earlier you apply, the earlier you can obtain one. When you apply, there is a lot of documentation you will have to provide to show that you are a legitimate company and have the relevant records necessary to complete the process. Responsible Organisations or RespOrgs can reserve a number on your behalf. They can see the data base that includes all toll free numbers and whether they are currently being used or a available for a new company to obtain.

Vanity Toll Free Numbers

When you see a toll-free number on television, you will often see the toll free area code and then a word. These are called vanity numbers. Companies will value these toll-free numbers at a premium for being easy to remember and relevant to their niche. For example a toll-free number, say 1-800-FLOWERS may be valuable to flower shop.

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