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International phone calls to cell phones in Russia are not much different than overseas calls to Russian land line numbers.  The only noticable difference is that the rate to call a Russian mobile number is somewhat higher than a regular home or office number.  Nevertheless, your rate with the phone cards from Russia Call is lower than you would expect.  Another interesting thing about cell phones in Russia is that they do not follow the same pattern as the mobile numbers in the USA.  Unlike the American mobile numbers, Russian cell phone numbers do not have an area code but a federal code instead.

A few easy steps to call a cell phone number in Russia

  1. Find a phone card that suits your needs to call a mobile phone in Russia.  Consult the list of phone cards to call cell phone in Russia.
  2. Purchase a phone card and follow the dialing instructions.  The instructions will be e-mailed to you and you can also view them at any time in My Account.
  3. Dial the number as you would dial a regular phone number in Russia: 011-7- Federal Code-Number. Your number should look like this 011-7-901-555-1234.  Refer to the information below for the federal code info.
  4. If the number you have has an eight and looks like 8-901-555-1234 do not dial the 8. See below for more info.
  5. If the number has a plus sign, as in +8-901-555-1234 simply disregard it.  More on that below.

Cell phones in Russia do not have area codes but federal codes

Unlike the mobile numbers in the United States that have same area codes as land lines in a particular area, Russian mobile phones have specific codes distinct from the local area codes.  Instead of using an area code, cell phones in Russia use federal  codes assigned to mobile phone providers.  Refer to the example below to understand the concept of federal phone codes in Russia.

American land line and cell phone numbers

Area Code Prefix Number
Land Line in New York, NY 212-555-1234 212 555 1234
Mobile Number in New York, NY 212-999-1234 212 999 1234

Area code: The area codes are the same for mobile and local numbers in the USA. 
Prefix: The prefix (first three digits of the number after the area code) may be used to distinguish local from cell phone numbers.

Russian land line and cell phone numbers

Code Prefix Number
Land Line in St. Petersburg, Russia 812-555-12-34 812 555 1234
Mobile Number St. Petersburg, Russia 901-170-12-34 901 170 1234

Code: In the first example, 812 is the area code (called city code) in St. Petersburg, Russia.  In the second example, 901 is a federal code assigned to a mobile phone provider.  Note that the federal code does not narrow down the geographical location.  901 is also used for mobile numbers in Moscow and other regions.
Prefix: The prefix is what narrows down the geographical location of the cell phone provider.  170 happens to be the prefix for a mobile phone in St. Petersburg.

What about the 8 or the + in the phone number

If you see a number that has an 8 before the code simply disregard it.  The eight is for internal calling in Russia only.  Same goes for the plus sign.  European mobile phone are capable of dialing + for a phone numbers.  You can actually dial a plus on a cell phone in Russia.  When calling internationally the plus is not applicable, simply drop it.

Why does it cost more to call cell phone numbers in Russia

Unlike the United States where the the person receiving a phone call on a mobile phone pays for the minutes, the incoming calls on a mobile phone in Riussia are free.  The calling party is paying for the call, be it local or international.  In other words, a person calling from a land line in St. Petersburg pays for the call to a cell phone number in St. Petersburg.  Since even the local calls to a mobile phone cost extra, the international calls to Russian cell phones are more expensive as well.

How can I know whether the phone number I am calling in Russia is a cell phone number

The advantage of having separate federal codes for mobile numbers in Russia is that you can easily tell whether you are calling a local number or a cell phone number.  The current federal phone codes for the mobile phones in Russia are as follows:
901, 902, 903, 910, 911, 912, 914, 916, 918, 921, 922, 923, 924, 926, 927, 928. 
Note how they all begin with a 9.  Compare to land line area codes in Russia.

How can I tell where the Russian mobile phone number is located

Yes you can since the prefix is specific to a certain geographical territory. Detailed information is available on the Russian sites.

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Russia Call. Information and savings on calls to Russia.