HMRC helplines begin move to 03 numbers | AccountingWEB

HMRC helplines begin move to 03 numbers

HMRC has moved several of its helplines from 0845 numbers to cheaper 03 numbers, with the full switch due to be complete by the end of summer.

The migration did not come soon enough, however, for the new tax year when the mass roll-out of real time information for PAYE started after HMRC's spring software upgrade.

Taxpayers and advisers attempting to file RTI returns for the first time swamped the tax department’s helplines. AccountingWEB’s Any Answers page saw a surge in queries and complaints about the Revenue’s phone lines, particularly on Monday 7 April, when HMRC staff staged a half-day strike. But the lengthy waits continued throughout the following week.

In many cases, callers reported they could not get through and were advised by recorded messages to ring back later. Other members raised concerns about...


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Roger.Thornton's picture

SAy No to 0845

Roger.Thornton | | Permalink

The "overseas" number for the agent priority line is listed as 0161 931 9070.  Withhold your number using 141 before you dial or your call will be blocked.  

0845 numbers are free on my 02 package    1 thanks

sarah douglas | | Permalink

0845 numbers are free on O2 phone

ShirleyM's picture

Same here, Sarah

ShirleyM | | Permalink

We use BT but they are free on our package, too.

This is not a good news story.

sarah douglas | | Permalink

Hi Shirley 

This is a really annoying because 03 will now cost when the 0845 did not.   I smell a phone scam to make money from the HMRC 

I don,t think O3 is covered in the BT Package , it is not on the O2. Hope you are keeping well.


ShirleyM's picture

Thanks, Sarah

ShirleyM | | Permalink

I'm good,  thanks.

As I understand it, the 03 calls won't be as expensive as 0845 calls, which cost an absolute fortune for taxpayers, especially if calling from a mobile. I have had clients complain to me that some calls to HMRC have cost them £20-£30.

Are 03 call charges the same as 01 & 02 calls, ie. standard calls to landlines?

Thanks for researching the call packages, we will maybe get a little more information from somewhere.

I hope you are keeping well, too :)

Good news, I think, Sarah

WhichTyler | | Permalink

Calls to 03 numbers cost no more than a national rate call to an 01 or 02 number and must count towards any inclusive minutes in the same way as 01 and 02 calls.


From :

penelope pitstop's picture

What was free will now cost

penelope pitstop | | Permalink

I have free calls from by BT landline to 01, 02 and 0845 numbers. So now I will have to pay. As Forrest Gump once said (concerning HMRC) "Stupid is as Stupid does"!!!

Not good news for me

sarah douglas | | Permalink

O2 phone are not covering O3  rang them today .  So now I am going to have to pay when my 0845 was free.  I guess I will need to organise another package.  

charliecarne's picture

0845 vs 03

charliecarne | | Permalink

Just to clarify: calls to 0845 numbers cannot be cheaper than calls to 03 numbers. If Sarah's phone provider offered 'free' calls to 0845 (eg on BT's residential package for calls up to 1 hour), then this same package must include 01, 02 and 03.

0845 / 03

cjtrevor | | Permalink


Sarah the chances are that the person you spoke to simply didn't understand the 03 numbers.

See this from Ofcom - 


Calls to 03 numbers cost no more than a national rate call to an 01 or 02 number and must count towards any inclusive minutes in the same way as 01 and 02 calls.

These rules apply to calls from any type of line including mobile, BT, other fixed line or payphone

CrystalBallGazer's picture

Reasonably priced calls to HMRC

CrystalBallGazer | | Permalink

One way to get around this is to use SKYPE and dial the "overseas" number. This can't be blocked. Be prepared to be questioned about from where you are calling. If you admit to being in the UK they sometimes get upset. However I'm sure they will get over it! 

0845 not free from O2

sampsonar | | Permalink

Sarah Douglas are you sure O2 don't charge you for 0845 calls?

I'm with O2 as well and have spent quite a bit of time trying to find a way of reducing the cost of 0845 calls to HMRC. I can't find any O2 tariff or bolt-on that includes them. I've seen a posting on the web saying that O2 used to give free 0845 calls but withdrew that about 18 months ago.

I use Skype to call HMRC at the moment. When the 03 switch comes in I'll be able to go back to using the inclusive minutes on the mobile.

O2, 03, oh no!

zebedeerox | | Permalink

How many times is HMRC going to shoot itself in the foot, this year?

Perhaps this move was made with the best of intentions, but once again that old adage is proved:

"Never assume - it only makes an ass out of u and me."

The year of HM Right Cock-ups continues; can't wait for the next installment...

yes I am Sure 0845 numbers are free as well as 0870

sarah douglas | | Permalink

Yes I am sure .   Because that is the only reason I signed up for their broadband and 02 phone .  My package is 19.50 a month including broadband and 600 free mins a month  international as well. 

Sky have only recently taken over O2 Phone.  I have been on this contract for about 2 years now.  I also use Sage Cover a lot for clients and that was  my main reason for agreeing to the package.

BT Package of 4.95 add on also gives you 0845 numbers free .

I suspect the person may not have known what they were talking about for 03 as I checked my mobile and they are included in my all inclusive.    

I have just checked my bills online I am not been charged for 0845 numbers. 






Here is the link

sarah douglas | | Permalink

It is the any time option.

I am self employed and not Ltd , so I do not need to book it under a LTD name it allows you to get a better deal.   

Hope this helps 

It clearly says 600mins a month for 0845 and 0870 numbers. 

I moved to an office premises in the last 2 months  we have searched out pretty much the same deal for us . Not sure who with but I can ask her . 


charliecarne's picture


charliecarne | | Permalink

Two points:

(1) I think that Sarah and Sampsonar may be confusing different services provided by O2, as they provide both mobile and landline services; each has different options and charges.
 - Mobiles never (or almost never) provide 0845 numbers as part of their bundled minutes. Some landline providers (eg BT and possibly O2) include calls to 0845 in their bundled minutes or free calling allowances. So Sarah may get free calls to 0845 from her O2 LANDLINE, but sampsonar may pay for 0845 calls from their MOBILE.

(2) ALL UK phone providers (mobile and landline) MUST charge for calls to 03 numbers at the same rate that they charge for 01 and 02 (including any bundling or free call allowances).

Thus the move from 0845 to 03 CANNOT be a bad thing for anyone. HMRC have NOT "shoot itself in the foot" (per Zebedee). If 0845 calls are free for you, you will still get free calls to 03. If 0845 is charged for you, 03 will be included in any bundled or free package, so 03 is at least as good or better for EVERYONE.

Absolutely correct

sampsonar | | Permalink

Absolutely correct charliecarne, I was referring to mobile phone tariffs (in fact I thought O2 was a mobile phone company - I didn't realise you could get a landline from them!)

I relinquished my landline some time ago, whilst retaining the number (incoming calls are forwarded to the mobile). All works well, with the exception that calls to HMRC, which I make fairly regularly, were proving expensive. The switch to 03 numbers sounds like good news for me at least.

Calling packages including 0845, 0870, 01, 02 & 03 numbers

SouthEssex | | Permalink

Most telephone packages offered by either BT or Talk Talk that include free calls during the working day cover all national numbers that start with 01, 02 or 03.  In addition BT and Talk Talk include 0845 and 0870 as additional free calling numbers. The 03 number was introduced by the Government as a "non-geographical number" which must be charged at the local rate.  For those packages that include local calls 03 numbers will be free.   It is the 0871 and 0844 numbers, where the actual call rate differs for each telephone number which are the problems and it I noted that when BT and Talk Talk first offered free calls to 0845 and 0870 many call centres changed to 0871 and 0844.  In particular a number of GP's changed to 0844 when the Government specifically asked them to move to 03 numbers.  For most people the move by HMRC to an 03 number must mean that where a peak time call to local numbers is included in their package all calls will be free and for those where it is not only a local call charge will apply.

Wow, cheaper phone calls ...

Vince54 | | Permalink

... but it doesn't resolve the costs incurred by us "customers" still having to hang on for an eternity before being able to speak to someone who can (hopefully) resolve the query.  Big Deal