South Africa has a very well-developed telecommunication system. They have extensive fixed-line phone networks and five mobile service providers operating throughout the country. It is mandatory in South Africa to dial the full 10-digit number, including the zero in the 3 digit area code even when making local calls.

Area codes are generally organized geographically. When a South African number needs to be dialled from some other country, the 0 is removed and replaced by the appropriate international access code and the country code of South Africa, which is 27.

Phoning into South Africa:

If you are dialing a South African number from outside the country, you need to add +27, which is the country code and also either the area code of the city or town. You are calling if it’s a landline or the mobile network code in case of a mobile or cellular network obviously.

Here are the area codes of some of the major South African cities for reference

  • Cape Town- 051
  • Bloemfontein-021
  • Durban-031
  • Johannesburg-011
  • Port Elizabeth- 041
  • East London-043
  • Pretoria-012

Using the country code and the relevant area code, you can dial any South African phone number from outside the country.

How to make calls out of South Africa?

If you are living in South Africa and need to make a call outside the country, you need to dial 00 followed by the country code of the country you want to call followed by the area code, if any, finally followed by the phone number.  

It is very easy to find the international country code you want to call. You can call Telkom’s 24-hour international customer care center and find out the code, which is one of the fastest ways. Alternatively, you can also look for it on Google or any other international dialing code directory.

There is the facility of operator-assisted dialing as well for people having difficulties. Telkom’s international booked calls- 10900 offers assistance round the clock to people wanting to make international calls or send faxes as well.

What are collect calls?

Collect calls are reverse-charge calls where the party who has been called pays the charge when they accept the call. If you want to make a collect call within the country, dial 1025, and you will be guided further by voice prompts. In case of an international collect call, you can contact Telkom’s international customer care center at 10900, and they will guide you through the rest of the process.

Public phones in South Africa:

There are several public telephones placed at major sites across the country, especially for use by tourists. There are coin-operated phones as well as card-operated phones, which are both user friendly and compatible with hearing aid devices as well.

Phone Directories:

Telkom’s phone directories are best for looking up landline numbers. Millions of copies are printed each year and distributed at places like airports, hotels, offices, phone booths, and pretty much everywhere else, totally free of cost.

The Phone Book can be used to find residential Telkom users.

The Yellow pages can be used to look up businesses, services, etc.


You can also dial Telkom’s telephone directories:

  • 10903- International
  • 1023- Directory services
  • 10118- Talking yellow pages
  • 34310- Mobile Yellow pages

Just to make things easier for you, here are some of the important codes listed down for reference and use if you need to call from outside the country

  • South Africa Toll-Free Number dial code: +27-009
  • South Africa Toll Free-Corp dial code: +27-009

South African City codes

  • Bloemfontein: +27-51
  • Cape Town: +27-21
  • De Aar: +27-571
  • Durban: +27-31
  • East London: +27-431
  • Gordons Bay: +27-24
  • Johannesburg: +27-11
  • Johannesburg CBD: +27-102103
  • La Lucia: +27-31
  • Pietermaritzburg: +27-331
  • Port Elizabeth: +27-41
  • Pretoria: +27-12
  • Sasolburg: +27-16
  • Somerset West: +27-21
  • Uitenhage: +27-41
  • Welkom: +27-57

That was pretty much all you needed to know, understand, and recognize South African Phone numbers.

 South Africa has a great virtual phone system enabling easy communication from any part of the world anytime.

 Just keep in mind the basics that you need to dial when dialing a South African phone number from within the country or from outside.

There are five cell phone providers in the country- Vodacom, Cell-C, Virgin Mobile, MTN, and Telkom. The various networks support GPRS countrywide as well. 3G, 4G, LTE, EDGE, HSDPA, and UMTS support is available in urban areas.

Tourists visiting South Africa can easily rent or buy a phone and a SIM card. The SIM card starter kits are cheap and are readily available at most airports, markets, cafes, etc. from kiosks. You can also pre-order and buy a SIM card before even leaving home. You will be able to pick it up at the airport on your arrival.

Keep in mind to follow the dialing conventions mentioned in the article,  and you won’t be facing any problems. 

Stay safe and don’t talk on a handheld phone while driving as it is illegal in the country.

Updated : April 8, 2021


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