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How to Call India from the US

Sheryl Cannes
Updated on: May 11, 2022

International calls used to be confusing and pricey. Today, technology provides more options at better prices to call telephone numbers all over the world. Nonetheless, you still need to know a few ins and outs to call India from the United States.

The dialing process is a little different based on whether you’re calling a landline or mobile phone, so we’ve provided a step-by-step guide to take you through the process of connecting with friends, family, and colleagues over in South Asia. We’ve also included some alternatives to traditional landlines and mobile phones that can save you a few dollars.

How to Call Landlines in India

International calls start with a country exit code. For the US, that’s 011. It’s followed by the country code for the country you’re calling, which for India is 91. Next, you dial the subscriber toll dialing (STD) number, which varies based on location. It’s usually a two to four-digit number. You can look up the STD number using the Internet or ask the call’s recipient before making the call. The final part of the sequence is the six to eight-digit local subscriber number.

Here’s a break down of the steps:

  1. Dial the US exit code – 011
  2. Dial India’s country code – 91
  3. Dial the STD number – two to four-digit number that varies by location
  4. Dial the six to eight-digit local phone number

The dialing sequence would look something like this:

011 (US exit code) + 91 (Indian country code) + STD number + Local phone number
(011-91-55-555-55555)

How to Call a Mobile Number in India

Calling a mobile number in India from the US is slightly different. A few things to know—first, all Indian mobile numbers start with a 9, 8, or 7. They include ten digits with the first four digits corresponding to the network operator and the last six to identify the local subscriber number.

Here’s a break down of the steps:

  1. Dial the US exit code – 011
  2. Dial the Indian country code – 91
  3. Dial the ten-digit phone number

The dialing sequence would look something like this:

011-91-(9,8, or 7)-555-555555

How to Call India from the United States

Call to an Indian Landline: 011-91-55-555-55555
Call to an Indian Mobile Number: 011-91-(9,8, or 7)-555-555555

New Ways to Call India

International calls have become easier and more cost-effective as technology and Internet capabilities have advanced. For example, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems, often used by businesses, use a high-speed Internet connection to break down phone calls into data packets that travel via the Internet to the recipient. These calls are fast and often affordable for businesses that make frequent international calls.

VoIP systems aren’t as common for residential use, but online calling services and apps like Skype and Google Voice use a similar technology that’s available to anyone with an account. There may be some additional fees for international calls, but they’re usually far lower than international calling plans offered by traditional telecom providers.

You also have video options like Zoom and FaceTime. Face-to-face contact lets you feel more connected than voice alone. These services and their apps may have a monthly fee or charges for international calls, but again, they’re usually less than using a traditional phone plan.

Phone Call Etiquette

Technical issues aside, your biggest obstacle to a successful call abroad is time differences. India presents an interesting case. First, there’s one time zone for the entire country. That’s impressive and convenient, considering India’s size. However, India falls between two meridians. Rather than abiding the time of one or the other, the Indian government decided to follow the 30-minute mark between the two. In practice, India is only 30 minutes ahead of neighboring Pakistan rather than a full hour.

India is 10.5 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the United States. India does not observe Daylight Savings Time. Consequently, you’ll need to adjust the calling time accordingly at certain times of the year. If you need help determining a good time, try using an online time converter to help you stay on top of local Indian time.

FAQs

How expensive is it to call India?

Calling rates vary from $.015 per minute to $5 per minute, depending on the provider and calling method. Call your service provider before dialing to India to ensure that international calls are included in your plan. Sometimes carriers charge a per minute rate based on whether you’re calling a landline number or mobile number. Landlines tend to be less expensive, but many times you can save money by using a private VoIP system or app.

Can I call India using a calling card?

Calling cards let you prepay for your phone minutes, which can help if you need to set a calling budget. You get charged a flat rate, so you won’t get any unexpected charges. The rate stays the same for mobile phones (both iPhone and Android) and landline phones.

Nevertheless, pay attention to the fine print. All calling cards have a ‘round up’ policy wherein they round your last minute up to a certain increment. Sometimes it’s the closest minute, but other times it’s to the closest three to eight-minute increment. If you’re not careful, a calling card may go from being affordable to one of the more expensive options.

Are there any cultural norms I should expect when calling India?

Cultural differences may lead to a few surprises, but calling someone in India isn’t too different. A couple of things to consider—personal questions are normal. It may feel invasive by American standards, but personal questions are expected and a natural part of Indian culture. And second, time is flexible. Indians tend to be more relaxed about keeping appointments, wherein in the US, most people function under the assumption ‘time is money.’

Conclusion

Whether you’re calling Mumbai, Ghaziabad, or New Delhi, the calling sequence to reach India isn’t too complicated. The USA exit code and country code are the parts of the process that usually throw people off. Make sure you have the right destination number, including the area code, and follow the standard dialing procedure to stay in touch from across the world.

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