When a Windows Phone device is PIN-locked and I tap the "Emergency call" button, it brings up a dial pad. But when I try to call a non-emergency number, the following message appears:

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So what numbers exactly are permitted for emergency calls? I'm guessing the ubiquitous 112, 911 and 999, but anything else? There are dozens of different emergency numbers in use around the world. What determines which ones are allowed? The OS? The carrier or SIM card? Something else?

Also, what if I move to a country where the emergency number is different? Or if the number in my country changes (not likely, but not unprecedented either)? Is there any way I can change the numbers that my phone allows dialling from the emergency call pad?

up vote 5 down vote accepted

112, 911 and 08 are mandated as an emergency number by the GSM standard (see page 12 of the linked document). Thus all phones that fulfill the GSM standard will allow calls to 112 even when locked, no matter where you are (e.g. in the US, the 112 call will transparently be mapped to 911). This should even work without a SIM card in your phone.

AFAIK there is no possibility to change the emergency call numbers.

  • What about CDMA-based networks and phones? What about countries that don't use either 112 or 911 (plenty of countries in Asia and Africa, for instance)? Also, what exactly are the preset numbers that you refer to? – Indrek May 20 '14 at 11:21
  • The preset numbers are 112, 911 and 08. I didn't find anything similar for the CDMA standard. – akid May 20 '14 at 11:35
  • In countries with an emergency number other than 112, 911 and 08, I expect your provider would transparently map them to the proper end point (this is certainly the case in the UK with 999). – akid May 20 '14 at 11:36
  • You mean that local emergency numbers would be mapped to the standard ones (112, 911 or whatever)? But what about the other way around? For instance, the emergency number for police in Algeria is 17, but my phone doesn't let me dial it (I live in Estonia). What if I travel to Algeria? Will I be able to dial it there? Or would I have to remember to dial 112 or 911 and hope it would be mapped to the appropriate local emergency number? – Indrek May 20 '14 at 12:24
  • 1
    @Indrek I'm not sure if you'd be able to dial 17 on an unlocked phone in Algeria while being in the country (I doubt that work be possible with a locked phone from Estonia though). From what I understood from the GSM standard you will be able to dial 112 to reach emergency services no matter where you are. – akid May 20 '14 at 12:52

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