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Proposal status: Rejected (inactive)
Proposed by: Fröstel
Tagging: phone/fax=phone/fax number
Applies to: node/area/way
Definition: Phone numbers that would also be found in the yellow pages

Rendered as: not for direct display
Draft started:
Proposed on: 2007-11-14
Vote start: 2008-01-17
Vote end: 2008-04-16


There are many objects we're currently mapping to which a telephone-number belongs, that map-users might want to know. Be it to make reservations at a restaurant, hotel or camp-site, asking for opening hours of a shop or museum, there are many more uses to think of. Of course this isn't meant for private telephones, only because the building they're in is drawn in OSM. It's only for phones which are supposed to be called by the public. The same applies for fax-numbers.


Every phone number in the world is (should be) made up of three components: country-code, area-code and local-number. For proper usage we need the area-code and the local-number, the country-code in addition is preferred but optional (as everything in OSM).


The local-number of the restaurant 'Le Jules Verne' in the Eiffeltower in Paris is 45556144, the area-code for Paris is just 01, the French country-code is 0033 or +33. So you tag it:

  • phone = +33 1 45556144
  • fax = +33 1 47052941

To make the number easier readable to humans you should leave a space " " between the components. Navigation devices like the Openmoko that are a phone as well will still be able to handle the number correctly.


This feature would make no sense to render. But the number(s) should be shown in a kind of context menu.


  • I'm uncertain about the format of the number. It would be easier to read if the prefix is separated by a blank. But would this allow systems like the OpenMoko to use it directly for dialling? What do you think about a country-codes? -- Fröstel 00:05, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
  • The format should probably be whatever someone physically present in a given area would have to dial to call their destination. Given the prevalence of cell phones, the number should include the area code (ten digit dialing) or whatever the European prefix is. OpenMoko being able to use the number directly or if using a Nokia internet tablet transfer the number to your phone would rock. -- sadam 19:45, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
    • I assume all over the world a phone number fits the scheme: country-code followed by area-code followed by local number. 0049 40 123456 would be someone in Hamburg(040) in Germany(0049). I don't think it's necessary to store the country-code but would insist on the area-code. Maps are for people that don't know the area, so they also probably don't know the area-code. I'm no developer but I suppose it must be easy for the software on an OpenMoko or alike to tell that "040 123456" is the same as "040123456" and use it as such. Therefore I'd suggest to separate the area-code by a space " " to make it better readable for humans. -- Fröstel 20:48, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Responding to more than one point: I'm not sure about Open Moko but most programmable phones and modems I've tried accept, i.e. ignore, both spaces and hyphens and I think Fröstel makes a good point that these are good for readability. I predict that this is the sort of thing we are going to see in OSM online map pop-ups before not too long. The best all-embracing telephone number scheme I've seen is (using the above example) +49-(0)40-123456 where the '+' is the international access code of whatever outside country you are calling from (mobile phones understand this) and the (0) is when dialling internally - something that would not be understood by a phone. Still, I think sadam/Fröstel are right in suggesting that just area-code local-number is the most readable and useful. Lastly, OJW pointed out on the email list that telephone= rather phone= has already been used informally - would there be any objection to changing the proposa to telephone= ? MikeCollinson 21:08, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

I expect lots of numbers formatted in the local convention will end up in the database no matter what. The various dashes and spaces make it easier to memorise and transcribe the numbers correctly. Probably easier to embrace it than try to dictate a standard.

Currently I'm using telephone_number and in the UK at least it's the most popular tag in use with ~50 occurrences. Perhaps telephone:number would be better. Then other telephone relating things can be added under the telephone "namespace" similar to how a few other tags do it. Thewinch 21:24, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

That's true. But I believe when running a proper proposal, discussing the issue and finally coming to an conclusion for now and ever on we shouldn't be influenced too much by existing (unofficial) tags. And apparently there are at least two used: telephone and telephone_number. So we have to make a choice anyway. And as always I'm going with a short tag, which would be just phone. I don't see any reason why phone would be inappropriate, but I'm not native. -- Fröstel 00:07, 15 November 2007 (UTC)
  • two questions here, which relate to this. i can't see a 'street_number' feature anywhere, for tagging the street number for a given building/land plot/etc. if street numbers were added to the map instead of phone numbers (easier than phone numbers, as they progress generally in jumps of 2, and don't need to be looked up individually), a database of phone numbers could then be parsed to automatically add the phone number of all the locations tagged with a street address? so,
    (1) should we propose a 'street_number' tag, and
    (2) are there any open databases of phone numbers that would allow us to use them to populate the map (e.g. what is the status of the info in white/yellow pages in a given country?) Myfanwy 22:15, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

Why not uri:contact=tel:+99.99.99999998, uri:contact=fax:+999.99.99999999,, and even uri:contact= -- 3247 21:20, 1 January 2008 (UTC)

  • Before opening votes I considered all your comments. I totally see the digital beauty of url:phone= but I want to keep tags as intuitive as possible and url is something most people will have to look up. If this changes someday it will be a nobrainer to convert all phone-Tags to url:phone. I also realised that there are already telephone_number-tags around, but so are phone, telephone, phonenumber, phone_number and several more. Due to it's shortness I prefer phone which I herewith open for voting. -- Fröstel 20:06, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
  • There is an international standard on how to write international phone numbers: You have a plus (+) sign, then the country code and then the rest of the number. Any cell phone can dial those numbers directly regardless on where you are in the world. If you use a local number it will only work if you are in the same area. Also, because we don't have a list that ties a location to its area code it makes more sense to include the country code in the number, that way when you want to call a location from abroad you don't have to know the country code and you don't have to know what prefixes you have to add or remove etc. So if this tag gets accepted I suggest we document it in a way that international numbers are prefered. But knowing the real world, most people will probably ignore it. -- Joto 21:36, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
    • Yes, you made a good point. Since nobody has voted yet I modified the proposal accordingly. -- Fröstel 22:23, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
  • I'm not sure if this is the correct way to go. A phone number sounds useful, but the next person might find a mobile phone number even more useful. And then someone wants a business mobile number in addition to the private mobile number. And while we are adding things, how about a skype contact number oh and a secondary e-mail address. I think they might all be useful, but we would be adding lots of tags. How about something more generic? There is a good standard for all those contact information vCard. Not sure on how to add it to OSM, but I don't think adding lots and lots of tags is a good solution. --Ckruetze 21:37, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
    • Have you read the rationale? I don't see any reason to enter private phone-numbers in OSM and am strongly against it due to privacy. We're a map, neither a phonebook nor the yellow pages! I don't get your point about cellphones. When there's a remote cafe without a landline and a mobile instead, you can tag that number - but why use a different tag? But if you believe to improve things you're free to propose appendixes like phone:cell, phone:business and so on. -- Fröstel 23:20, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
      • I'm not sure if we aren't a phonebook or the yellow pages or maybe we want to become that in the future - I don't have an opinion about that. All I'm saying is, you see the need for a phone number, the next person might see the need for a mobile number and then someone might want the business skype number. If we go that way, do we want to add one tag after the next or do we want to use soemthing that is already out there that allows us to represent all of this information? If we want to add all the tags manually, maybe we should do it in one big proposal all at once, so that the names are consistant and we can vote once and use them all afterwards. --Ckruetze 13:21, 18 January 2008 (UTC)


Voting closed

Voting on this proposal has been closed.

It was rejected with 5 votes for and 7 votes against.

  • I approve "phone=xy and fax=xy" (the "uri way" is more complicated without a benefit) -- Ulfl 03:05, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
  • I approve Bobkare 07:41, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
  • I approve "phone=+32-3 123 45 67 and fax=+32-15 65 43 21" (hyphen is optional) (It's trivial to know what will need to be dialed locally (0 or 9) depending on the country code, besides even from within the country the international way of dialing should work) --Polyglot 07:55, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
  • I disapprove of phone as amenity=telephone already exists. I think objects should be named consistently to avoid confusion where possible. --Thewinch 18:17, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
  • I disapprove this proposal because i think we should define a more generic set of tags (as contact:phone contact:fax contact:skype contact:email ...) --EdoM (lets talk about it) 18:23, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
  • I approve using phone= and fax= because this should be as simple as possible to encourage people to add this information. --Geoff 19:16, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
  • I disapprove this proposal. See my comments above. --Ckruetze 21:38, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
  • I approve phone= and fax=. Simple is best MikeCollinson 14:39, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
  • I disapprove of this proposal. this sort of data is best stored elsewhere (wikipedia, wikimapia, etc.), and referenced from the name and address of the location being marked. e.g. i wouldn't put the phone number of a restaurant, rather it's name, address (when street numbers are finalised), and operator. what next, the entire menu of the restaurant? Myfanwy 22:45, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
  • I disapprove of this proposal. The contact system suggested by EdoM would be better. I'd also approve of this proposal if it were simply adding contact:phone=* (allowing other contact methods to be added easily) --Hawke 16:56, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
  • I disapprove of phone as amenity=telephone exists. This will only cause confusion. Enhance existing tags where necessary instead of creating new ones. However OSM should not become a store for all sorts of information which should be logically placed elsewhere. -- Netman55 09:27, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
  • I disapprove of this proposal. I will use as long as no other conclusion is made, the system suggested by EdoM, using contact:phone, contact:email, ... . I hope there will be some nice Preset for this feature (maybe even with address) --dieterdreist 16:08, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

Voting ended on Apr 16th 2008 and the proposal was labelled "Rejected (inactive)"...

Despite this, the tag has been used extensively by mappers. Usage found on OSMdoc August 2009 :

phone - 7200
contact:phone - 724
telephone - 297
addr:telephone - 153
telephone_number - 49
phone_number - 6
Someone has changed all my telephone=number to phone=international number. So those stats may not give a good indication of how people are actually tagging phone numbers. --Thewinch 19:10, 26 August 2009 (UTC)

The tag has been documented at Key:phone

TODO: Clarify status. Propose again?

See also