In this edition of Countries in the spotlight: Spain with Spanish Phone Numbers.
Spain is a significant economic power in Europe, with a $1.4 trillion GDP (which is globally right between Mexico and Australia), 46 million residents and the fourth-largest economy in the Eurozone. Following the effects of a financial crisis that slowed growth in the country from 2008 to 2014, Spain obtaining access once again to affordable external financing from international markets, thereby generating more investor interest. All excellent reasons to enter the Spanish market.
The Spanish market is a relevant market, but the recent financial turmoil has influenced consumer behaviour. In Spain, consumers are most concerned about rising prices, unemployment, and the invasion of Ukraine. Their outlook on the economy remains pessimistic, at a level comparable to attitudes during COVID-19 lockdown periods.
According to research by McKinsey, to manage price pressures, Spanish consumers have cut down on spend in non-essential categories, and the majority of respondents say they have changed shopping behavior in the last months. They want value for their money, with Spanish flair. And they’re not very brand loyal. If you win their hearts easily, you’ll have to work hard to keep them. You will need to put effort in customer experience, but the reward is worth the effort.
The Spanish want a good price for their purchases. But they also love to splurge on high-quality items. Especially when those items are Spanish – or have a Spanish vibe. Of course, you can’t just pretend you’re Spanish when you’re not. Or namedrop Spain and wait for customers to come running.
Greetings in Spain are an extensive ritual. You can expect to shake hands with everybody present, and only people who know each other kiss on both cheeks. You may notice that Spaniards are initially quite formal in business settings. Therefore, you should address people by their surname, prefixed with senor, senora, or senorita. You should also wait for your host to initiate the use of first names. If your Spanish counterparts have two first names, though, you should use both when addressing them whether they are male or female (e.g., Jose Hernandes or Sofia Teresa). If you speak Spanish, then use the formal form usted until the person invites you to use the familiar form of address tu.
Spain is a big market. Ultimately, Spanish consumer behaviour is straightforward. Brand loyalty is not a key market driver, so don’t get lost in grandiose brand building. Instead, give the Spanish what they want: value for money and a personal connection with what you’re selling. Achieve that and the rest will follow.
This makes having Spanish phone numbers critical when targeting the Spanish market. Herewith an overview of what Spanish Number Types are available for you to use:
Spanish Local Number
Spanish local numbers are – as in any other country – tied to a specific area and are reachable against standard caller cost within country boundaries. Spain has arranged their area codes simply per province. Clear and straightforward. A map as shared by the Spanish regulator can be downloaded here.
It is noteworthy that an address in the area of the phone number is required to request a Spanish Local Phone Number.
Spanish National Number
Spanish Freephone Number
Spanish Freephone numbers – or toll-free numbers – have the recommended 800 prefix (without the 0) and calling is free for the caller. Freephone numbers are generally only reachable from within the country – although international calls in some cases do come through.
Freephone is a Spanish number type that is relatively easy to request. You do not have to take any special conditions into consideration.
Infographic – Spanish Phone Numbers. You are free to use this infographic in your own publications provided a link to this article is placed as well.
Universal Freephone Number
An International Freephone number – officially a Universal International Freephone Number (UIFN) – is a global number. It is not regulated in Spain itself. The ITU has defined this type of number as an international alternative for the regular in-country freephone. This type of number can be activated in Spain and the exact same number can be activated in other countries as well.
Spanish Mobile Number
Spain has reserved a couple of prefixes for mobile usage: 6, 71, 72, 73 and 74. And they have reserved prefix 51 for nomadic servies – which could be compared to mobile services. Spanish mobile numbers are reachable against mobile cost and internationally.
Important to know about Spanish mobiel numbers is that they are not available as virtual numbers. So, you will have to get an actual SIM for this type of Spanish phone numbers.
Spanish Premium Rate
Spain has an elaborate numbering plan for Premium rate numbers which can be confusing for some. Normal local numbers, freephone numbers and premium rate numbers can all start with an 8 or a 9. The number type is only determined by looking at the full prefix.
These are the available Spanish Premium Rate number prefixes and their use:
- 803: Number with a high caller rate for adult services
- 806: Number with a high caller rate for entertainment
- 807: Number with a high caller rate for professional services
- 901: Number with a lower additional caller rate for professional services
- 902: Number with local caller cost
- 905: Massive calling volumes such as TV voting
- 118xy: Directory Enquiry Services
There are some other prefixes (such as 908 and 909 for internet access services) but the mentioned prefixes are the most relevant.
You should always be careful when choosing a phone number type. This guide provides excellent guidelines for your selection process. But here are some considerations to make with the specific Spanish market in mind.
Spain is a frontrunner when it comes to improving customer experience. That is driven by their culture and confirmed in their legislation. They love to indulge in luxury. Due to recent financial developments, strive to value for money. And are proud of their own country. And rightfully so – Who is not familiar with Paella, Jamon Iberico and the works of Gaudi? Therefore, the Spanish love Spanish products and services because they know they can trust them, but simultaneously they are not completely sceptic regarding products from abroad. It will help if those products or services have an authentic Spanish flair or provide a (significant) better value for money.
The strive to better customer experience is backed up by the government and legislators with new laws. It was Consumer Rights Minister Alberto Garzón who said “the practically infinite waiting times that produce frustration are over” when he announced a new law in 2022: Support to existing customers is only allowed to be provided via a freephone number and any caller should be able to speak with an actual person within 3 minutes.
In conclusion: The Spanish expect value for money and have a light preference for Spanish products or products with the Spanish flair. The Spanish market is an open and relevant market and when taking this conclusion into account, your Spanish adventure is of for a good start.
What is valid for support, is even more valid for sales phone lines. You want to welcome callers with open arms. Confirm to the potential customers they can expect an excellent customer experience. Any possible threshold must be removed. So, in most cases (and countries) a freephone is by far the best practice.
This is valid everywhere but even more so for Spain. Getting value for money is on top of mind with many Spanish people and what call is more cost effective then calling a free phone number? This really makes a difference in Spain.
There is one downside to take into account: A freephone number is a national number and Spain is a big country. Local audiences might want to feel confident that you and your business are rooted in the same community. Toll-free numbers achieve the opposite effect since they start with non-local area codes. That fact alone can cause a mental division between you and the customers in your backyard.
In conclusion, a freephone is the best Spanish phone number type to use for sales (and support) lines but do verify whether it is more important to show with your number that you are physically close by.
Local businesses with local clientelle should take local phone numbers. Spanish people favour local produce somewhat, or at least products and services with value for money that have a Spanish flair. A Local Spanish phone number helps with that. So, the importance for local businesses to have a Spanish Local number is even more important than in most other countries.
In Spain local business should choose local numbers – no question. The only thing to consider is – when you service multiple communities or provinces – whether multiple numbers are required to connect with your audience in the respective communities and provinces. All phone numbers can be forwarded to the same destination(s). So, you can keep working as you are used to, but your potential callers have confirmation you are able to service them in their respective areas. This is especially important in Spain. Spanish people prefer not to jump community – e.g. a person from Catalonia will prefer Catalan contacts and phone numbers over others.
The best advice for a multinational is to do localization for their phone number the same way as they do for their website. Most corporates put effort in fine tuning their online presence and keep on tweaking their localisation. But somehow optimisation of the phone numbers stays behind while the same results can be achieved. So, per country look at the specifics and determine the number types to be used based on the localisation as defined for your website. Do not underestimate the importance of localisation of phone numbers. We have dedicated an article on Smashing Magazine to address this topic.
An additional option for multinationals is an International freephone number (a.k.a. UIFN). This type of number can be activated in multiple countries and therefore there is only one number to remember by the caller and a single phone number can be printed on documentation used in multiple countries. This can be quite the optimisation. Do check up front if calling such a number is acceptable for your specific audience.
The obvious choice for a nationally operating company is a national phone number. However, Spain does have national numbers such as freephone (toll-free) en premium rate numbers, but not a ‘regular’ national number type as known in most other countries. Most countries have a number range reserved for nationally operating organisations. Those are also known by the name “Corporate numbers” and are usually issued in bulk (to cover all the (desk) phones within an office). In Spain, there are National number (51-numbers), but they are reserved for nomadic services.
So a “Corporate number” is not an option in Spain. Still if you have an organisation which is targeting customers with multiple locations spread out over Spain, a location independent number is definitely the best choice. And there are always the sales and support lines to consider. A freephone number remains the most effective option. Based on these guidelines, it should be easy to make the best choice for you.
If you are operating nationally but targeting local customers, it is better to opt for local phone numbers in the areas where your customers are since Spain is a huge country and you have to be close to your customers.
When providing consulting or other professional services via the phone, you expect to be rewarded. The Spanish respect that, however, there has been a lot of abuse of this number type. To protect the Spanish consumer, the regulation of these numbers is very strict. In the request process, detailed service descriptions, advertising examples and support options need to be provided.
Detailed regulation can be found on the website of the Spanish regulator CNMC. And obviously, we are happy to help as well.
No Address in Spain
An address in Spain is required for a lot of Spanish number types. If you do not have an address available, a freephone number is an excellent Spanish phone number option. It is a good number type to unlock a market in general but as stated previously, it fits even better with the Spanish market.
Unlock the full potential of this one of the largest countries in terms of purchasing power parity via Spanish Phone Numbers that fit your business.
A very extensive guide to optimise your call routing can be found here. This guide is applicable for all countries including Spain. What should get additional attention when defining a call routing flow for an audience from Spain: Show you are providing value for money. Be passionate but to the point and relevant.
Next point of attention is the language: Spanish is a must for the consumer market. Even though most of the professional Spanish population speaks English, also for the national business market Spanish is preferred. English is ok for the international business market.
Side note: European Spanish is really different from LATAM Spanish. When addressing the market from Spain, make sure to stick to European Spanish.