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Why you will soon need to dial 804 to make local calls in Richmond

Posted at 11:17 AM, Dec 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-14 11:22:24-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- You will soon have to dial the area code 804 when making a local phone call in Central Virginia.

The change, which takes effect in 2021, is based on the nation's toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL).

"Starting in July 2022, the NSPL will also be getting its own three-digit dialing number – 988 – as approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) earlier this year. Dialing 988 will therefore directly reach the NSPL," a spokesperson for the Virginia State Corporation Commission wrote in an email. "Before that can happen, dialing changes will be necessary in two Virginia area codes – 804 and 276 – starting in late April 2021."

The numbers 988, you see, are already the beginning of many existing Virginia phone numbers in those area codes.

So if you dialed 988 to call a friend -- you'd actually ring the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

In order to reach your friends and family and not dial the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the area code 804 will be required dialing.

"The State Corporation Commission, the FCC, and the telephone industry will be reminding consumers of this change in the 804 and 276 area codes over the next 18 months," the email continued.

Here's a breakdown of the timeline:

  • April 24, 2021 – permissive 10-digit dialing begins for all local calls
  • October 24, 2021 – mandatory 10-digit dialing required for all local calls
  • July 16, 2022 – 988 for NSPL is active

The nation's toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can currently be reached, day or night, at 800-273-8255.