Area Code Overlay 518/838

All Customers with a New York 518 Area Code Must Dial Area Code + Telephone Number For all Local Calls Beginning August 19, 2017

What is the new dialing procedure?

To complete calls within the 518 area code region, the new dialing procedure requires callers to dial area code + telephone number. This means that all calls in the 518 area code that are currently dialed with seven digits will need to be dialed using ten digits, that is, the area code + telephone number. The same dialing procedure will apply to telephone numbers assigned to the new 838 area code.

Who will be affected?

The 518 area code covers all or part of 17 counties in eastern upstate New York, serving communities in the capital region of Albany and surrounding areas, such as Plattsburgh and Lake Placid. The new 838 area code will serve the same geographic area currently served by the existing 518 area code.

Why is the change necessary?

To ensure a continuing supply of telephone numbers, the 838 area code is being added to the area served by the 518 area code. Since two area codes will now serve the same geographic region, the area code must be used when dialing any telephone number – including calls within the same area code.

Beginning September 19, 2017, the new 838 area code becomes effective, and customers receiving numbers from the 838 area code must dial the area code on every call placed as well.

When will the change become mandatory?

Beginning August 19, 2017, the option to place calls within the 518 area using 7 digits will end, and all calls made within and between area codes 518 and 838 must be placed using the 10-digit telephone number.  If customers forget and dial just 7 digits, then the call will not be completed and the customers will hear an announcement instructing them to hang up and redial using the area code.

However, all customers should begin using the new dialing procedure before August 19, 2017.

What will you need to do?

In addition to changing your dialing procedures, all services, automatic dialing equipment, or other types of equipment that are programmed to dial a 7-digit number will need to be reprogrammed to use the new dialing procedure. Some examples are stored telephone numbers in contact lists in wireless phones, PBXs, fax machines, Internet dial-up numbers, speed dialers, call forwarding settings, voicemail services, etc. Medical alert devices, safety alarm security systems and gates, ankle monitors or other similar equipment must be programmed to use 10-digit dialing. Many systems operate on 10-digit dialing by default but some older equipment may still use 7 digits. Please contact your medical alert or security provider if you don’t know whether your equipment needs to be reprogrammed to accommodate the upcoming change to 10-digit dialing. You may also want to check your website, business stationery and advertising materials, printed checks, contact information, and your personal or pet ID tags to ensure the area code is included.

The most important facts that consumers and businesses need to know about the upcoming 838 area code overlay are:

  • Your telephone number, including current area code, will not change.
  • You will need to dial area code + telephone number for all calls within and between the 518 and 838 area codes (518 or 838 plus the 7-digit telephone number.)
  • You will continue to dial 1+ area code + telephone number for all calls to other area codes (outside of 518 and 838).
  • What is now a local call will remain a local call.
  • The price of a call, coverage area, or other rates and services will not change due to the overlay.
  • You can still dial just three digits to reach 911.
  • If 211, 311, 411, 511, 611, 711 or 811 are currently available in your community, you will still dial these codes with just three digits.

Who may you contact with questions?

If you have any questions regarding information provided in this notice, please call FirstLight at 800-461-4863 or access for more information. You can also visit the New York Public Service Commission’s website at for further information.