North American telephone area code 804 serves the east-central portion of Virginia. The area code is anchored by Virginia's capital, Richmond, and includes most of its metropolitan area. Other communities using 804 include Chesterfield, Henrico, Hopewell, Mechanicsville, Powhatan, Midlothian, Petersburg, and Colonial Heights. The 804 code also includes the Northern Neck and the Middle Peninsula. The two southernmost counties on the Middle Peninsula, Gloucester and Mathews, are part of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area, but use 804 instead of the area code 757 used by the rest of Hampton Roads.
Area code 804 was split from Virginia's original area code, area code 703, on Sunday, June 24, 1973, with an official permissive dialing period ending January 1, 1974. Originally, it stretched across the eastern two-thirds of the state, from Danville to the Eastern Shore. Normally, when an area code is split, the largest city in the old numbering plan area retains the old area code–in this case, Norfolk, then Virginia's largest city. However, C&P Telephone (now part of Verizon) wanted to keep the large number of federal agencies in Northern Virginia from having to change their numbers.
Despite the rapid growth of the Richmond-Petersburg and Hampton Roads areas, this configuration remained in place for 23 years. On July 1, 1996, the Eastern Shore and most of Hampton Roads became area code 757. Although Hampton Roads is the largest metropolitan area based in the Commonwealth, Bell Atlantic (forerunner of Verizon) decided to let Richmond keep 804 in order to spare the plethora of state agencies in the capital the expense and burden of having to change their numbers.
This split was intended as a long-term solution, but by the turn of the century and millennium 804 was running out of numbers due to the rapid growth of the Richmond area, as well as the proliferation of cell phones and pagers. As a result, 804 was split again on June 1, 2001, when most of the western portion (Danville, Lynchburg, Charlottesville) became area code 434.
Area code 804 is famous for being the only one created during what is considered the most stable time of NANPA's existence, from 1966-1982.
Despite Richmond's continued growth, the area will not need another area code until late 2025.
|North: 703, 571, 540|
|West: 434||Area code 804||East: 757/948|
|South: 434, 757/948|
|Maryland area codes: 240/301, 410/443/667|