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Mandatory 10-digit dialing begins this Sunday in St. Louis area

You'll have to add the area code as part of a change to make “988” the dialing code for the national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline

ST. LOUIS — If you need to dial a phone number in the St. Louis area, get ready to press a few extra digits beginning this Sunday.

Mandatory 10-digit dialing starts Oct. 24 for people in 35 states and 82 area codes. The change includes a huge part of the greater St. Louis area, including those who have 314 and 618 area codes.

Missouri area codes impacted:

  • 314
  • 417
  • 660
  • 816

Illinois area codes impacted:

  • 309
  • 618
  • 708

All people living in those area codes will have to dial 10 digits for local calls to go through – even ones made in your own area code. See a full list of area codes impacted nationwide on the North American Numbering Plan Administrator website.

The change started to be phased in back in April and will fully go into effect this Sunday, forcing you to dial the area code and the phone number for all calls. Otherwise, a recording will say the call cannot be completed as dialed.

AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile have been notifying customers about the upcoming change with alerts and messages.

Why the change?

The transition to 10-digit dialing is necessary to help people easily reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s new three-digit number. Last July, the Federal Communications Commission approved “988” as the three-digit number Americans can call to connect with suicide prevention and mental health crisis counselors. It works similar to dialing 911.

The new rule requires phone providers to direct all 988 calls to one of the 170 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline crisis centers by July 16, 2022. For now, Americans needing to reach the group should continue to call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Because several existing numbers in many area codes across the country begin with “988”, it could be mistakenly dialed by someone trying to enter a seven-digit number. To prevent that, the FCC is requiring area codes to be entered in places where these “988” phone numbers exist.

There’s more information about the 10-digit dialing change in Missouri on the state’s Public Service Commission website here. The Illinois Commerce Commission has more details on its website.