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While the question of what it takes to be a true Coloradan might be up for debate, it’s often not very difficult for locals to distinguish the out-of-staters.

For one, what’s your area code?

Many associate the 303 area code with someone who has been in the state longer than those with 720.

The 9NEWS Verify team did some digging to find out if there are any 303 phone numbers still up for grabs, and if any newcomers can get one of these numbers.

QUIZ: 303 area codes, Subarus, I-70 traffic; How ~Colorado~ are you?


According to data the North American Numbering Plan Administration received from phone carriers as of June 2017:

  • There are roughly 7.8 million phone numbers total with the 303 area code
  • Of those, carriers have assigned more than 6 million to customers
  • There’s about 1.5 million numbers currently available, sitting in carrier inventories to be assigned

Another about 140,000 phone numbers are in an aging process – they sit idle for around 90 days to a year to allow time for people to realize the previous customer no longer has that number.

The 303 area codes become available when customers who had the numbers disconnect - it goes back into the inventory and can later be reassigned.

Reasons why people disconnect include canceling home phone lines, moving to a different state or just desiring a new or different phone number.


People who are attached to their 303s are not alone, there have been area code affinities in other cities like New York and Los Angeles, according to Verizon spokesperson Meagan Dorsch.

“These are kind of the quintessential area codes for a metropolitan area,” Dorsch said. “We absolutely understand why people have an affinity for 303.”

Although planning for Colorado was done before NANPA was in place, the organization is responsible for projecting when a new area code will be needed, according to Neustar (NANPA) senior director John Manning.

“303 was the original area code introduced in the late 40s early 50s, then you got 719 which was introduced as a split of 303, that was in 1988,” Manning said. “And then you did another split of 303 and introduced the 970, that happened in 1995.”

The 719 area code serves the south and southeast parts of the state, and 970 serves the northeast, northwest and southwest parts of the state

Manning added 720 was introduced in 1998.


The 9NEWS Verify team talked with 20 employees at Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint stores over the phone.
Several workers said customers specifically request a 303 area codes – some even said they get asked several times a day. But, others said they only get asked every few months or very rarely.

A few employees mentioned businesses make the request more often than individuals.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going to be easy to get a 303 area code,” Dorsch said.

Phone numbers are not only assigned to people – who might have a few to their name including cell, work and home lines.

Other devices and machines are also assigned phone numbers to communicate over a wireless network, such as applications on iPads, ATMs, gas pumps and automated cars, according to the North American Numbering Plan Administration.

A customer can request a specific area code, but carriers are not always able to accommodate.

“The only way you’re going to be able to get a 303 number is if you went to a particular carrier who had customers who had 303 numbers,” Manning said. “Then for whatever reason they turn those numbers back in and they came back into the inventories of the carrier, who then would be in the position to offer you a number that had been aged appropriately and then made available.”

Dorsch said the way numbers are allocated is very regulated.

“If that area code is part of a wireless carrier’s inventory and they are able to give it back out, then we’ll work with that customer to try to get them their area code of preference,” Dorsch said.

While some carrier employees said there is a high chance they would have numbers with a 303 area code available, around half said it was not very likely, some reiterated how hard 303s are to get.

Some of the employees did, however, offer a few tips for people who want to increase their chances.

Customers can go to the store early in the morning, since many workers said that’s when numbers become available.

One worker recommended for people to go to a Denver area store, since they said that’s where 303 numbers are primarily released.

Employees said customers also have the option to keep checking in and can contact customer service to change their number when a 303 area code becomes available – and some carriers have the option for people to switch their number online.

But employees said to keep an eye out for fees applied to phone number changes.


If you’re on the hunt for a 303 area code, rest assured they are still out there.

It’s by no means impossible to get one, but it might take a little work.