Virginia 540 area code becomes the new standard time zone for the state. The new area code, starting on July 1st, is exactly the same as the old area code that was in place since 1969. But to anyone outside of Virginia who doesn’t know it already, the new area code will mean all different things to everyone else. There is much confusion and even some conflicting information in the marketplace when it comes to the new area code system. It’s not uncommon to hear from those in neighboring Virginia who are confused about how they should read the new area code, or about the different ways they heard it described.
First of all, it is important to understand what the new area code means when it is used in a geographic context. The new system, which was introduced via an automated External Areas Conversion (EAOC) process by the Virginia Department of Transportation, is actually only one part of a multi-step process that also involves changing the maps used to identify the state and its counties, and which also includes changing the administrative codes related to business taxes, vehicle registration, fire department records, and many other areas. Once the all-services overlay area code designation is applied to a specified location, then the process of applying the new name to that location begins.
As described in the EAOC document, once the new area code is applied to a location, a new administrative code is assigned to it. Those administrative codes have a significant impact on how people find and use services when using the area code. In Virginia, these changes included: o Standard numeric representation (based on the American Telephone Standards (AES), or A tri-code (or multi-code), which is a version of the full standard numeric representation but arranged in a different way so that the digit count is independent of the order of the letters and numbers, State specific alpha-numeric prefixes and suffixes for service codes that are serviceable only within a single state, and o The elimination of city names from service codes that are not serviced by a city in Virginia. All of these changes were undertaken as part of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s effort to rebrand its local government and create a better customer experience for its residents.
As noted above, the new area code resulted in some confusion for some individuals and businesses. For example, in both Fairfax and Loudoun County, when someone dialing a non-Fairfax / Center counties telephone number tried to enter the new 826 area code, the calls would be directed to the local number instead of the toll-free number for the Center counties telecommunication. Similarly, in the city of Loudoun, when someone called a non-Fairfax / Center county telephone number and tried to enter the new 826 area code, the call would be directed to the local phone number.
To help avoid potential future exhaustion of the Virginia 540 area code areas, the General Services Administration has assigned a nine-digit number, which has been published in the United States Postal Service (USPS) Manual. This nine-digit number, which is also referred to as the VLAN ID, will appear on all outgoing calls, advertising new services and commercial offers. Additionally, this new area code will be used in all future communications regarding communications services in the northern portions of Virginia. Customers should contact their local USPS office to find out more about this new assignment.
To avoid future exhaustion of the Virginia 540 area code area, it is suggested that customers ask their local telephone companies to carry the area code that they currently do. Many telephone companies already have this area code; however, many do not. It is up to the customer to either request that their area code is changed or allow their current provider to carry it. Going over one’s monthly bill with your current provider is always an option, but many people do not like the extra hassle or bother of calling different numbers just to ask. In addition, because of the potential waste of money when customers change providers, it is advised that any area code changes be submitted to the Virginia State Board of Insurance for approval before the service can take place.