Understanding The 503 Area Code In California

Phone numbers with the 503 area code were once primarily associated with Oregon, but parts of northern California have now also adopted this code. This has led to some confusion for California residents receiving calls from unfamiliar 503 numbers.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The 503 area code now overlays parts of northern California, including Del Norte and Trinity counties, in addition to covering the northwestern region of Oregon.

History and Origins of the 503 Area Code

The 503 area code holds a significant place in the telecommunications history of the United States. Assigned to the state of Oregon in 1947, it was one of the original area codes established in the North American Numbering Plan (NANP).

The NANP was implemented to standardize phone numbering systems across the continent and facilitate direct dialing between different regions.

Assigned to Oregon in 1947 as one of the original area codes

When the 503 area code was first assigned, it covered the entire state of Oregon. At that time, Oregon had a relatively small population, and a single area code was sufficient to meet the demand for telephone services.

However, as the population grew and telecommunication needs increased, it became necessary to introduce additional area codes to accommodate the growing number of telephone users.

Originally covered entire state of Oregon

Initially, the 503 area code served all regions within the state of Oregon. From the bustling city of Portland to the scenic coastal areas and the vast rural landscapes, all telephone users in Oregon were assigned phone numbers with the 503 area code.

This helped create a sense of unity and identity among Oregonians, as they all shared the same area code.

Portland retained 503 when Oregon added 971 in 2000

In the year 2000, due to the population growth and increased demand for telephone services in Oregon, a new area code, 971, was introduced. However, the city of Portland, being the largest and most populous city in the state, was allowed to retain the original 503 area code.

This decision was made to minimize the disruption caused by changing phone numbers and to maintain the familiarity associated with the 503 area code for Portland residents and businesses.

Today, the 503 area code continues to serve the greater Portland metropolitan area, including the cities of Salem, Beaverton, and Hillsboro. It has become an integral part of the identity of these communities and is recognized as a symbol of connection and communication within the state of Oregon.

Expansion of 503 into Northern California

In recent years, the rapid growth in Del Norte and Trinity counties has led to a depletion of available phone numbers in the 707 area code. As a result, the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved an overlay of the 503 area code in 2018, which took effect in 2019.

This expansion was necessary to meet the increasing demand for telephone numbers in the region.

Rapid growth in Del Norte/Trinity counties depleted 707 numbers

The population growth in Del Norte and Trinity counties has been remarkable in recent years. This has resulted in a significant increase in the demand for telephone numbers, resulting in a depletion of available numbers under the 707 area code.

As the existing numbers began to run out, it became evident that an expansion was necessary to accommodate the growing population and businesses in the region.

PUC approved 503 overlay in 2018, took effect in 2019

In response to the shortage of phone numbers in the 707 area code, the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved the implementation of an overlay for the 503 area code. This decision was made in 2018 and the new overlay took effect in 2019.

The overlay allowed for the addition of new phone numbers while ensuring that existing numbers under the 707 area code would remain unchanged. This approach helped to alleviate the strain on the existing number supply and allowed for continued growth in the region.

Covers Del Norte, Trinity counties and parts of Humboldt, Siskiyou

The 503 area code overlay covers not only Del Norte and Trinity counties but also includes parts of Humboldt and Siskiyou counties. This expansion ensures that the entire region is adequately served with a sufficient supply of telephone numbers.

It also allows for better organization and management of the phone number inventory, making it easier for residents and businesses to obtain new numbers without any disruption or inconvenience.

For more information about the 503 area code expansion and the specific areas it covers, you can visit the California Public Utilities Commission website.

Locations and Cities with 503 Area Code

Portland and surrounding metro area in Oregon

One of the major regions covered by the 503 area code is the city of Portland and its surrounding metro area in Oregon. Known for its vibrant culture, outdoor recreation, and thriving tech industry, Portland is a popular destination for both residents and tourists alike.

The 503 area code extends to suburbs such as Beaverton, Gresham, Hillsboro, and Tigard, among others. With its diverse population and lively arts scene, Portland offers a unique blend of urban amenities and natural beauty.

Salem, Eugene, and other cities in western Oregon

The 503 area code also encompasses cities in western Oregon, including Salem, Eugene, and other surrounding areas. Salem, the state capital, is home to the picturesque Willamette University and the Oregon State Capitol.

Eugene, known for its progressive community and the University of Oregon, offers a wide range of outdoor activities and cultural events. From the stunning Oregon Coast to the picturesque Willamette Valley, the 503 area code in western Oregon is rich in natural beauty and offers a variety of attractions for visitors and residents alike.

Crescent City, Weaverville, and parts of Eureka in California

While primarily associated with Oregon, the 503 area code also extends into parts of northern California. Cities such as Crescent City, Weaverville, and parts of Eureka fall within this area code. Crescent City, located along the rugged California coast, is known for its proximity to Redwood National and State Parks, where visitors can immerse themselves in breathtaking ancient forests.

Weaverville, a historic Gold Rush town nestled in the Trinity Alps, offers a glimpse into California’s past. With its unique blend of natural beauty and rich history, the 503 area code in northern California provides a captivating experience for those exploring this region.

Who Has a 503 Number vs Who Kept 707

With the introduction of the 503 area code in California, it is important to understand who will be assigned this new number and who will get to keep their existing 707 number. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has implemented an overlay plan to address the increasing demand for phone numbers in the state.

New numbers issued in overlay region are 503

If you are a new customer or are requesting a new phone number within the overlay region, you will be assigned a 503 area code. The overlay region includes areas previously served by the 707 area code.

This means that individuals and businesses in these areas who are in need of a new phone number will receive a 503 number.

The introduction of the 503 area code allows for the availability of more phone numbers and ensures that the growing population in California can be adequately served. This is a proactive approach by the CPUC to manage the increasing demand for phone numbers and to avoid the exhaustion of available numbers in the 707 area code.

Existing 707 numbers unchanged

If you currently have a phone number with the 707 area code, you can keep it. The implementation of the 503 area code does not require any existing numbers to be changed or reassigned. So, if you have established a business or have personal contacts with your current 707 number, you can continue using it without any interruption.

This is good news for individuals and businesses who have already established their presence with a 707 number. There is no need to go through the hassle of changing your number and notifying all your contacts. You can rest assured that your current phone number will remain the same.

No need to change number or notify contacts

With the introduction of the 503 area code, there is no need for individuals or businesses to change their phone numbers or notify their contacts. The CPUC has ensured a seamless transition by implementing the overlay plan.

So, if you are a resident or business owner in the overlay region, you can continue using your existing 707 number without any inconvenience. Your contacts will not have to update their records, and you can maintain your established identity with your current phone number.

If you are a new customer or are in need of a new phone number in the overlay region, you will be assigned a 503 number. This ensures that there are enough phone numbers available to meet the growing demand in California.

For more information about the 503 area code and its implementation, you can visit the California Public Utilities Commission’s official website here.

How to Identify 503 Scam Calls

Look up unfamiliar numbers online

One of the best ways to identify a potential scam call from the 503 area code is to look up the unfamiliar number online. There are several websites and online directories that provide reverse phone number lookup services.

Simply enter the suspicious number into the search bar and see if any information about the caller is available. These websites often provide user-generated reports and ratings for phone numbers, allowing you to see if others have reported the number as a scam or spam call.

Some popular websites for reverse phone number lookup include Whitepages, Truecaller, and Spy Dialer.

Don’t answer calls from suspected spam

If you receive a call from a number in the 503 area code that you suspect might be a scam or spam call, it’s best to err on the side of caution and not answer the call. Scammers often use robocallers or automated systems to target unsuspecting individuals, so answering the call may lead to further unwanted calls or potential scams.

It’s always better to let the call go to voicemail and listen to the message later. Legitimate callers will usually leave a message if the call is important.

Report scam calls to FTC/FCC

If you have received a scam call from a number in the 503 area code, it’s important to report it to the appropriate authorities. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are the two main agencies responsible for handling complaints related to scam calls.

Reporting scam calls helps these agencies track down and take action against scammers. You can file a complaint online on the FTC’s website at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or the FCC’s website at consumercomplaints.fcc.gov.

By reporting scam calls, you’re not only protecting yourself but also helping to prevent others from falling victim to these fraudulent activities.


The 503 area code now extends beyond Oregon into parts of northern California, which can lead to confusion for residents receiving calls. While this overlay was implemented to meet the region’s growing need for new phone numbers, it has also provided fresh territory for scammers utilizing spoofed 503 numbers.

Familiarizing yourself with the expanded 503 region and being cautious when receiving unfamiliar calls can help you identify legitimate vs scam callers with Oregon-based area codes.

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