Victor Schubert’s personal page

Fictitious phone numbers and email addresses

When testing software we sometimes need to create user accounts. Who hasn’t — in this situation — mashed their keyboard to produce a phone number, maybe tweaking it to have it be accepted by whatever validation logic is built in the form you’re testing? Sometimes you’re testing a live system and going for the obvious “@email.com” address or using some random phone number means some unsuspecting, unlucky stranger might receive some strange messages as a collateral. This can be avoided however: some email addresses and phone numbers are set aside for testing purposes (or something close) and are guaranteed to never be assigned to any user. On this page I try to summarize what email addresses and phone numbers you can use without fear of spamming someone.

Email addresses

Actually this is the easiest one. RFC 2606 sets aside three domain names to be used in examples. These domains will never be used for anything else, so it is fairly safe to assume noone will ever get an email address with any of those domains. At least currently, none of those has an MX record.

To that list you can add subdomains to domains you control, which you can decide to set aside for testing purposes: for example if you own mycompany.xyz, you can use any @example.mycompany.xyz and be sure that noone will ever receive those emails unless you decide to start receiving them yourself.

Phone numbers

Phone numbers are another story. Each country has its own numbering plan. Numbering plans are exactly what they say they are: they are documents defining how phone numbers work in a country: what phone number prefixes are used how, how phone numbers are allocated to phone service providers and end users… You may ask yourself: why would countries bar phone numbers from ever being allocated to a user? It turns out works of fictions often contain phone numbers, and people tend to actually try to call those phone numbers. In order to avoid that, phone numbering plans tend to include a few phone numbers dedicated to works of fiction for use by authors, so as to prevent their audience from bothering people whose phone numbers end up in a movie. Because each country establishes its own phone numbering plan, there isn’t an international standard for fictitious phone numbers, so we need to dig for each country. I will try to add this information for as many countries as I can, which probably won’t be a lot. Expect this page to be updated.

Australia

Australia has a very friendly website which lists in plain language the phone numbers which can be used for fiction.

France

The ARCEP is in charge of managing France’s phone numbering plans. In its Décision n°2018-0881 modifiée de l'Autorité de régulation des communications électroniques et des postes en date du 24 juillet 2018 établissant le plan national de numérotation et ses règles de gestion it allocates six blocks of 100 000 phone numbers for works of fiction.

Ireland

In its Numbering Conditions of Use and Application Process document, the Commission for Communications Regulation sets out a full area code for use in drama and fiction: +353 20 XXX XX XX.

United Kingdom

The british Office of Communications (or Ofcom for short) set aside 20 blocks of 1000 phone numbers for use in works of fiction.

United States of America

The United States have set aside 99 phone numbers under each area code. Therefore for some area code XXX you can use any phone number in the range +1 XXX-555-0100 to +1 XXX-555-0199.