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Contacting People
in Cayman

Concerning changes in the Cayman Islands telephone "area code"
(In brief: As of 1 September 1997, "345" has now replaced "809")

Cayman is part of the NANP (North American Numbering Plan) where all countries under this plan share a common "country code" (which is "+1") for long distance callling. This group of countries includes the USA, Canada, Bermuda and fifteen Caribbean nations. Each of these countries is assigned an area code (really called a NPA code) or set of area codes within this NANP plan.

Up until 1 September 1996, the area code for Cayman and almost the entire Caribbean was simply "809".

For a number of reasons, including some severe telephone fraud and the difficulties resulting from restricting access to the "809" area code in an attempt to control that fraud, the "809" part of the plan was altered.

(Note: please be extremely careful about returning phone messages to unknown "809" phone numbers. Cayman phone numbers can now only be accessed through "345")

As of 1 September 1996, the Cayman Islands were assigned their own separate and unique area code: "345". This NPA is administered by Cable & Wireless (they're the local telephone monopoly) on behalf of the government of the Cayman Islands.

The one-year long change-over to the new area code took place during what was called the permissive period. During that year-long period, both the old and new area code are were supposed to work identically. In other words, you were supposed to be able to call 1-809-9xx-xxxx or 1-345-9xx-xxxx and be connected to the same line in Cayman. At the end of this period (1 September 1997), everything was then changed over to the new area code and, as of that day, "809" no longer worked for calling the Cayman Islands.

That's was the theory. In reality, according to Cable & Wireless USA, it could take several months into the permissive period before many of the major US and non-US telephone systems got converted over to using "345". In fact, even after the final switch-over date of 1 September 1997, there are still occasional problems from some telco carriers in calling "345".

Cable & Wireless should know: As of mid-September 1997 (after the end of the permisssive period), Cable & Wireless has yet to completely and totally enable "345" access from their own stateside systems. Even now, sometimes when a US-based C&W customer attempts to dial a "345" area code, they get an interrupt message that informs them "Sorry, the location you have dialed is not available for service."

What does all this mean? Simply that Cayman is at the mercy of the C&W telco monopoly. If you get one of those messages when calling Cayman, please call your long distance carrier and demand that this be resolved immediately.

If you'd like to test your access from outside the Cayman Islands, there is a special test number with a recorded announcement at +1-345-949-2680 (please note that this does not appear to be a toll-free call and they never clear out their mailbox).

This is somewhat of a hardship on Cayman business as they have had to re-print all of their literature, stationery, business cards, business forms and so forth with the new area code and it still doesn't completely work.

Bottom line: Change over your address books, telephone dialers, and other records: "345" has now replaced "809".


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Last update: 24 September 1997
Copyright © 1997 Don Backstrom
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