As of Sunday, residents who use nine California area codes – including area code 530 with numbers originating from Davis, South Lake Tahoe, Placerville, Auburn, Grass Valley, Woodland, Marysville, and Yuba City, and most from the Sacramento Valley north of the capital – will have to dial using 10 digits to make phone calls due to a change in federal rules to facilitate access to nationwide crisis resources.
The change will affect eight other California area codes elsewhere, including area code 209 in Stockton and Modesto. Residents using Sacramento area codes 916 and 279 will not notice any changes and have been dialing the additional digits for over three years.
With the weekend change, thousands more California residents will need to dial the area code of the desired phone number first, followed by the remaining seven digits. Most cell phones already automatically add a 1 in front of dialed area codes, which is necessary to end calls and adds up to 11 digits, but some affected residents may also need to manually add a 1 before the area code.
Calls attempted without the necessary three-digit area code – with a 1 in front of it – will not be terminated and callers will be notified to hang up and try again.
Where are the changes taking place?
The California area codes affected are:
▪ 209 – covers Stockton, Modesto and surrounding areas
▪ 530 – covers most of the state from the north east to Del Norte County and north to Roseville. Includes most of Yolo, Placer and El Dorado counties
▪ 562 – covers Long Beach and part of Orange County
▪ 626 – covers most of the San Gabriel Valley including Pasadena
▪ 650 – covers most of San Mateo County and parts of Santa Clara County, including Palo Alto
▪ 707 – covers the northern California coast, including Napa, Vacaville and Fairfield
▪ 925 – covers parts of the eastern bay, including parts of Alameda and Contra Costa counties
▪ 949 – covers southern Orange County
▪ 951 – covers western Riverside County
If your phone number begins with one of these area codes, you will need to add a few more digits when you want to make a local call in the area.
Why are 10 digits needed?
In July 2020, the Federal Communications Commission passed new rules that established 988 as a quick way to dial the national lifeline for suicide prevention, similar to 911 for emergency calls.
In the United States, 82 area codes that currently operate with seven-digit calls – including the nine California area codes that will soon be affected – use 988 as their central office code, allowing easier dialing.
To ensure that all callers trying to reach the national suicide prevention lifeline were successful in their calls, those 82 area codes had to switch to the 10-digit call.
Starting July 16, callers dialing 988 will automatically be directed to the lifeline. Until then, callers will need to dial the full number to receive crisis assistance.
Callers in the Sacramento area were required to type 1 plus 10 additional digits as of 2018, but that was unrelated to this change. A new area code, 279, was added for Sacramento County and other adjacent areas as numbers using the old 916 area code began to run out, necessitating a switch to dialing 10 figures.