Hawaii residents might want to update local phone numbers stored in their phone. Starting in October, all local numbers must be dialed with the 808 area code first.

All phone service providers will be implementing this mandatory change to 10-digit local calling. The change applies to all local calls, including those on the same island.

The new calling method goes into effect on Oct. 24.

Reason for the Change

The telecommunications change is coming after the Federal Communications Commission adopted 988 as the new three-digit nationwide number to get in touch with the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline. That number will be activated on July 16, 2022. The change is necessary because 988 is a pre-fix for many numbers in Hawaii (and 39 other states).

Ann Nishida Fry, of Hawaiian Telcom, explains it this way:

“988 is just a simpler number to remember. It’s easy and fast just like 911,” Fry said. “So for an important service like a suicide prevention lifeline, the FCC wanted to have a three-digit number for folks to reach them if they need it.”.

The change to 10-digit calling will affect other devices that use telephone services, including fax machines, life safety systems and medical monitoring devices. Phone numbers will remain the same, users just need to make sure to add the 808 area code to each number.

Make the Change Now

It is advised to go ahead update phone numbers now on all devices, and not wait until the last minute. Local numbers will work now with the 808 area code. Without the area code, the call may not be completed after October 24th.

For more information on the upcoming dialing change, click here.