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Official Travel Information

U.S. residents use both mobile phones and landline phones. All telephone numbers begin with a three-digit area code, which indicates the area where the call originates, followed by a seven-digit telephone number.

Mobile Phones

Before traveling to the USA, check with your mobile phone carrier to see if your phone has international capability and whether it will operate on the Global System for Mobile (GSM) communications used in the U.S.

Using your mobile and data plan outside of your home network can be very costly. Even simply receiving email will impact your data charges. Many mobile phone carriers offer a variety of international plans that can save you money. If you choose not to get an international plan, you can turn off cellular data in your phone settings (or keep your phone on airplane mode) and simply connect to Wi-Fi networks when they are available.

If you are in the USA for a long trip, you can purchase a prepaid cellular phone with its own U.S. number at many retail outlets and major phone carriers. You can purchase additional data when needed. Make sure your mobile phone is protected with a password to safeguard your personal information in the event your phone is lost or stolen.


Pay phones are still available in the U.S., though they are not as plentiful since the advent of mobile phones. There are less than 500,000 pay phones throughout the U.S. and each typically costs 25 or 50 cents for a local call.

Most accommodations, whether hotels, motels or bed and breakfasts, have telephones in guest rooms, but often charge a fee for use, regardless if the call is local, long distance or toll free.

Prepaid Calling Cards

To help manage costs, you can also purchase a prepaid calling card, which allows you to make long-distance telephone calls for a flat fee. To use it, call the access number with the identification number listed on the card. Prepaid calling cards can be used with both mobile phones and landlines.

Emergency Calls

All emergency calls are free of charge in the USA. Simply dial 9-1-1. Emergency calls include audio calls to police and calls made to the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) — a service that enables people with hearing or speech disabilities to communicate with standard telephone users.