This is how I understand the new seven-digit dialing system that will go into effect in Belize in May. If I've missed something, will someone please correct me?

The new system being introduced by BTL is said, by BTL, to "provide cusotmers with an easier way of making both Local and National calls" and to "ensure that telecommunications in Belize is comparable and consistent with International Standards."

Effective May 1, 2002, a new seven-digit dialing system is being introduced countrywide. Formerly, phone numbers in Belize had five digits, plus a two-digit local exchange code, beginning with 0 (a few areas, including San Pedro, had three-digit local area codes, 026, but local numbers had just four digits) and for most local calls you could dial the last five, or sometimes last four, digits. To dial from one area to another in Belize, you dialed the full six digits, including the 0. To call to Belize from outside the country you dropped the 0 and dialed six digits.

AFTER MAY 1, for any number in Belize, local or not, you must dial all seven digits. All numbers begin with a district area code: 2 for Belize District, which includes Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, 3 for Orange Walk District, 4 for Corozal District, 5 for Stann Creek District, 6 for mobile phones, 7 for Toledo District and 8 for Cayo District. The second digit of the phone number is a service provider code: 0 for prepaid services, 1 for mobile services and 2 for regular telephone service.

So a number like 22x-xxxx indicates that it is in Belize District and is a regular telephone, not a cell phone and not a prepaid service. In most cases, the last five digits of telephone numbers in Belize do not change, so if you see a number listed the old way, you can convert it to the new system.

When dialing from outside Belize, you must also dial the country code and international calling prefix. The country code for Belize is 501. When dialing from the U.S., add 011, so to call a regular number in San Pedro from the U.S. dial 011-501-22x-xxxx. To call the U.S. from San Pedro, dial 001 + Area Code + 7-digit number.

It's unclear yet how much, if any, confusion will occur with the new system. If there's confusion, it likely will be from those calling from outside Belize to Belize, say to try to make hotel reservations. Of course, travel guidebooks, telephone directories, Internet directories, etc. issued up until now use the old telephone numbering system. Possibly BTL will have a system temporarily in place which will allow dialing under either the old or new systems or at least a system that will alert callers to the new procedures?

--Lan Sluder

Lan Sluder/Belize First