How New Area Codes Are Created

Today, Canadians use many kinds of telecommunications services such as residential phones, cellphones, fax machines, and computer services. This increases the demand for telephone numbers. The quantity of telephone numbers within an area code is limited, and eventually the demand for them will cause an area code to run out of new telephone numbers.

Solutions for providing additional telephone numbers

When an area code runs out of telephone numbers, there are two common solutions to provide additional numbers:

  • an area code can be split into 2 or more parts; a region is typically split along a natural boundary such as the border of a municipality or along a major road or body of water – in this situation, some customers have to change their telephone numbers
  • an existing area code can be overlaid with a new area code; this means that existing customers can keep their phone numbers and area code, but all local calls must be dialed with 10 digits – in this case, all new numbers would have the new area code

Canadian Area Code Map

Why change to 10-digit dialing?

When additional telephone numbers are provided by using an area code overlay, numbers that were used in the existing area code can be used again with the new area code. However, the area codes need to be added to the telephone number so the two are different.

Can we run out of numbers?

Every year, the Canadian Numbering Administrator (CNA) conducts a survey with service providers about their future requirements, and projects the need for new area codes to ensure that we do not run out of telephone numbers.

Have your say

Once the need for a new area code is identified, the CRTC sets up an industry working group to review the options available and to make recommendations about how best to handle the particular circumstances of the region. These working groups are open to all, and public participation is both welcomed and encouraged.

Multiple consultations are underway to add new area codes in British Columbia, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador. You can participate by contacting the CNA by telephone at 613-563-7242 or by visiting www.cnac.ca.

News Releases

CRTC to add new area codes in four provinces (May 31, 2016)

CRTC to introduce a new area code in Alberta in 2016 (October 30, 2013)