What is the calling code for the United States? Making your phone call

Gert Svaiko

Making a phone call to the United States is quite straightforward nowadays. However, did you know that there are over 300 area codes spread across the states, with California alone having 34 different codes¹?

When it comes to calling someone in the US, knowing the calling code of the area plays an important role, among other details.

So, if you’re not sure about international dialling, area and calling codes, or communication options, read on.


How do I call the US?

The US has its own international country code, as does every other country. When you dial it, you’re signifying that you’re calling into the States from abroad.

Did you know that instead of ‘+’ at the beginning of an international phone number you can also use ‘00’?

To dial abroad to the US, use either of the following international country codes²:

  • +1
  • 001

An example of a US phone number

In the US, phone numbers are set up with a 3-digital area code, followed by a 7-digit local number.

To call an American phone number, here’s what it looks like if you’re calling from inside the US:

(area code) – (phone number) or (XXX) - XXX - XXXX

If you’re calling from abroad, it’s a different process. If you call the British Embassy in Washington, DC, for example, the local number is (202) 588-6500³. To call the embassy from the UK, you’d dial:

  • 00 (or +) – the exit code to dial outside the States
  • 1 – the US country code
  • 202 – the local DC area code
  • 588-6500 – the rest of the embassy’s number

So if you see a phone number like this 202 588-6500, you’d dial 00-1-202-588-6500.

Most common dialling codes in the US

Each city in the US has one or more area codes for all the numbers in that region. Check out the list that includes all area codes in the US by states.

Below you will find the calling codes for some of the largest cities in the US⁴:

AreaLocal Area Code in the US
Boston, MA617, 508
Chicago, IL773, 312, 872
Dallas/Fort Worth, TX214, 469, 972
Detroit, MI313
Los Angeles, CA213, 323, 661, 310, 424
Miami, FL305, 786
New York, NY917, 212, 718, 347, 929
Philadelphia, PA215, 267
San Francisco, CA415, 628
Seattle, WA206
Washington, DC202

Are there other codes in the US I need to be aware of?

The US doesn’t have additional codes to remember when trying to dial internationally to or from the US. Just remember to add your county’s international dialling prefix (00 or +) and then press 1 before the call. If you are calling within the US to another number in your same area, you don’t need to dial 1 before the call.

Why did my call to the US not work?

There are a few reasons that your call may not have gone through, including:

  • You forgot to use the exit code to dial out of your country
  • You don’t have the correct area code
  • You’re calling a mobile phone that doesn’t accept international calls
  • You forgot to dial the +1 before you entered the number

It’s probably more common for people to make calls using online platforms like WhatsApp, FaceTime, Skype, or Viber. The US is rife with reliable Wi-Fi, so it’s probably just as convenient, if not more, to use one of these options to connect with someone.

Do phone numbers in the US usually have voicemail boxes?

Whether it’s a landline or a mobile phone, many people in the US have a phone number that’s connected to a voicemail. Since the popularity of text-based and other communication options, voicemail still sees some usage.

But, the most common use for voicemail nowadays is to check for a message after not picking up a call from an unknown number⁵. Keep that in mind when reaching out to someone in the US who might not have your number stored on their phone.


What does the ringing tone sound like when you call the US?

The most common phone tones that you might hear are:

  • The dial or ringing tone – a standard dial tone that’s similar to other country dial tones.
  • The busy signal – a repeated beep tone that lets you know that the phone you’re calling is engaged or off the hook
  • The unobtainable message – a standard notification that tells you the number you’re calling cannot be reached

Travelling to the US frequently? Want to save money? Give Wise a try.

When you’re calling a US phone number, or better yet, preparing to travel to the US, you’ll want to make sure you’re spending your money wisely. One way to do that is by using Wise, which helps you save on currency exchange. No more hidden fees and surcharges – Wise allows you to exchange currency at the real exchange rate, the one you see on Google.

You can also use the multi-currency account, so you can send and receive money in over 50 currencies, including the US dollar.

Calling abroad can sometimes be a hassle, but when it comes to the US, you have several options for reaching your friends, family, and business partners. Refer back to this guide to get a quick refresh on how to call up the US.

Sources used for this article:

  1. AllAreaCodes - Area code listings by state
  2. CountryCode - US country code
  3. Gov.uk - British Embassy Washington
  4. World Population Review - US cities
  5. Pew Research - Most Americans don’t answer cellphone calls from unknown numbers

Sources checked on 25-05-2022.

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

Money for here, there and everywhere

Find out more

Tips, news and updates for your location