SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County has begun the switch to a new area code. For the next 18 months, county departments will transition from the 801 area to 385 area code.

The county has run out of phone numbers under the 801 area code and needs to switch to maintain its longtime 468 prefix.

"It's really a customer service issue," said Salt Lake County Deputy Mayor Nichole Dunn. "We had run out of numbers and made the hard choice to fix it all right now. If we don't do this, we might end up with people in offices next to each other with different area codes."

Each department of county government will update phone numbers on their respective Web pages. The county will establish an online directory on its home page,

The Granite School District switched its school and district telephone numbers to the 385 area code in June 2009. At the time, the school district officials explained that the change was part of an area code overlay instituted by the state Public Utilities Commission to cope with the increased demand for phone numbers along the Wasatch Front.

Marjorie Cortez