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Alabama Area Codes Explained

Alabama currently uses six area codes, 205, 251, 256, 334, 659 and 938. The Northeast of the state including Florence, Huntsville, Scottsboro, Stevenson is covered by 256 with 938 later created as an overlay. 205 and 659 cover the western side of the state and includes major cities like Athens, Birmingham, Butler, Clanton, Fayette, Hamilton, Hoover, Millport, Jasper, Pell City, Tuscaloosa and Winfield.

Area Code Cities and Locations Served Overlays
205 Birmingham, Tuscaloosa 659
251 Mobile
256 Huntsville 938
334 Montgomery
Alabama Area Codes Map
Approximate Map Of Alabama Area Codes

Part of the southwest is covered by the 251 area code and includes the Mobile County area. The southeast which includes Montgomery and Dothan has 334 as its area code with no overlays currently. In the future additional overlays, splits and new area codes may be added to increase capacity. Overlays cover the same geographic area but add phone number variations so more people can be connected.

The oldest area code in the state is 205, it was one of the original 86 area codes created in 1947 by AT&T. Seventy-seven were created in the USA and 9 in Canada where they generally followed state boundaries with the general exception of states with high populations. New York, Texas and California has multiple from the beginning but Alabama was assigned one. Alabama's 205 originally served the entire state.

Area code 334 was added on January 15th, 1995 in a split from 205. Additional splits were deemed necessary in March 1998 with the creation of area code 256 and again in June 2001 with the introduction of 251. The 938 overlay was later added for 256 in July 2010 and 659 overlay added for 205 in October 2019 (many expected 659 to go live in November).

When 659 did go live, by April it became necessary to include the area code when dialing in the area. There is often a grace period when new dialing procedures are implemented to allow customers to update speed dialers, voicemail services, alarm systems, security systems, internet dial up numbers, PBXs, life safety systems and fax machines.

Many businesses will adopt a telephone number in the state they are selling in to maintain a local presence. The state operates on Central Time.

To dial an Alabama area code from the US, simply use the three-digit area code (NPA code) followed by a seven-digit number. The 7-digit number will need to include the NXX/central office code (a three-digit number) followed by 4 digit subscriber number.

To dial a number with an Alabama area code from another country, first dial the international access code for your country if necessary. Next, dial the United States exit code (001/+1), followed by ten digit number including, Alabama's area code, central office code, subscriber number and the local number. The dialing procedure is fairly simple but check any caller fees with your provider for different coverage areas.

An Alabama number could look something like this:

00 + 1 + 205 + NXX-XXXX

The North American Numbering Plan (NANP) is a telephone numbering plan covering  the United States and its territories, Canada and many Caribbean nations.

The NANP was originally created in 1947 by AT&T long before the internet or mobile phones became commonplace. It was created to simplify the process of connecting calls between exchanges and to standardize the way numbers were displayed on telephone dials.

NANP phone numbers are made up of ten digits which are generally displayed as three groups separated by dashes or spaces. The first group is the area code, the second group is the central office/exchange code and the third group is the subscriber number.

The area code is three digits long and generally relates to a geographic area code or its overlay. Area code overlays are when two or more area codes cover the same geographic area. For example, 205 and 659 are both valid area codes in parts of eastern Alabama and the overlay means the area code is always necessary when dialling the areas covered by those prefixes.

The central office/exchange code is three digits long and is used to route calls to the correct exchange. The subscriber number is four digits long and uniquely identifies the customer.

The area code may often be omitted when making a local call within the same NPA as the caller but it is always necessary when dialing from a different NPA, when calling from outside of the NANP, or when there is an overlay in place.



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