D.C. and Digital Editor Micha Green dons a 202 hat by ROK Apparel and holds the D.C. flag at D.C. Native Day in 2018 in the Union Market area of Northeast, D.C.

By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. and Digital Editor

For native Washingtonians, hearing or seeing the numbers 202 is a rallying factor, a sense of pride and feels like home, as it’s the area code that was created and has been used for the District of Columbia since October 1947.  Entrepreneurs have created clothing with the numbers 202 and there are organizations named in its honor such as the Mayor’s initiative 202Creates.  However, the District is ever evolving and growing in its residents, and with that comes change and newness, including an additional area code- 771.  

“It feels consistent with this trend of the new D.C. New neighborhoods, new buildings, businesses, industries and, I guess, a new area code,” explained Sheika Reid, native Washingtonian and D.C. Democratic State Committee Committeewoman.  “Nothing is consistent except change.”

The District of Columbia Public Service Commission (DCPSC) announced last year that the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA) assigned the new area code 771 for the nation’s capital.  This change comes as a means of transitioning into a new area code as 202 phone numbers will be exhausted in the near future. 

In September 2020, the D.C. Public Service Commission approved a 13-month implementation schedule, proposed by NANPA, to help residents with the transition by providing consumer education through the Area Code Implementation Working Group.

“The 202 area code has been part of D.C. culture for over 50 years and it is not going away,” said DCPSC Chairman Willie L. Phillips. 

“However, we stand ready to assist in a smooth transition to the added 771 area code,” Chairman Phillips explained when the new area code was announced.

The D.C. area code has been cherished by District residents for decades.

“If you got a 771 area code, we ain’t the same,” one social media user wrote when the area code change was announced. 

“If they say they’re from D.C. and their area code is 771 just know that they JUST moved there for a SUPER important job on the Hill,” another person Tweeted.

As connected as Washingtonians have been to the three digits 202, they also did not have to use them if they were calling from a District line to another D.C. number, as the area code was not needed- that is- until recently.  With the addition of 771, District residents will now need to use an area code when calling one D.C. line to another.

Changes such as having to use an area code was one of the many reasons DCPCS worked to smoothly transition area codes and educate residents.

According to DCPSC, the 13-month schedule for implementing the 771 area code was divided into three stages.  The first stage was six months of network preparation.  The next six months have been utilized for customer education and residents have still been able to dial both seven digits and 10 digits within the 202 area code.  The final stage implements  ten-digit dialing becoming mandatory for 202 area codes and any new local numbers administered will have area code 771.

“If you plan to get a new phone number on and after November 9, 2021, you may be assigned a phone number with the 771 area code,” according to DCPSC.

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Micha Green

AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor