BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The New York Department of Public Service made a stir Tuesday when it announced the official adoption of a new “624” area code for Western New York. But the move has been in the works for nearly a year — and it won’t affect your existing “716” phone number unless you need a new one.
The plan was approved and announced by the department last October, pointing to the “strong demand for telecommunication services in Western New York” and saying the 716 area code was close to being exhausted, meaning the department was running out of new, unique phone numbers it could assign to the code.
Under the DPS plan, the 624 code will not be assigned to any phone numbers until the very last number with a 716 code is handed out. While the department said last year it expected that day to come sometime in 2024, it said Tuesday that a final date for the 716 code has not been determined.
If you have a 10-digit phone number beginning with 716, don’t fret — you won’t have to give up the code around which Buffalonians have rallied as a source of civic pride. The 624 code will not be imposed retroactively on any existing phone numbers, and all current 716 numbers will remain unchanged.
When the 716 code is officially exhausted, the Western New York region will be represented by two area codes simultaneously, a situation referred to as an “area code overlay.” That might take some getting used to, but overlays have been imposed in many major metropolitan areas like Philadelphia, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and parts of New York City. In areas around Houston, Texas’s largest city, the state Public Utility Commission has issued four different area codes.
Even the 716 area code itself is no stranger to being sunsetted in some areas of the WNY region. In 2001, 716 was split into two, Rochester taking on the 585 area code and Buffalo keeping 716.
Here’s everything you need to know about the 624 overlay, according to the Department of Public Service:
• Current telephone numbers, including current area code, will not change;
• All calls within and between 716/624 must be dialed with 10 digits;
• Consumers will continue to dial 1+ area code + telephone number for all calls to other area
• What is a local call will continue to remain a local call;
• The price of a call, and the price of other telephone services, will not change due to the new
overlay area code;
• Calls to reach 911 Emergency Service will remain three digits;
• If 211, 311, 411, 511, 611, 711 or 811 services are currently available in the community,
consumers will still dial these codes with just three digits; and
• Numbers in the 624-area code will not be available for assignment until remaining numbers in
the 716-area code are exhausted. A date has not been determined when the remaining 716-
area code numbers will be exhausted.
NYS Department of Public Service
Justin McMullen is a Western New York native who joined the News 4 team in 2023. You can read more of his work here.