How It Works

Even small, shallow excavation jobs can be a risk if you don’t know where underground lines are buried.

Remember to call 811 for every project!

Click here for our homeowner video.


Step 1

"Pre-mark" where you plan to dig before making the call to 811.

Pre-marking means to mark out the area on the ground where the work will take place, using white stakes, paint or flags. Note that pre-marking requirements vary slightly from state to state. Download Laws/Rules

When utility company representatives arrive to mark their lines, pre-marking provides visual boundaries to help guide them in placing their marks where you need them, and not where you don’t.

Guide to Marking Proposed Excavations

Step 2

Call 811 in advance

Our call center is open from Monday through Friday from 6:00am to 6:00pm.

State law requires you give at least 72 hours notice in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island; 48 hours in Vermont. - not including weekends and legal holidays.

We only accept emergency locate requests during off-hours.  For non-emergency requests, please call during regular office hours.

You will be given a Dig Safe ticket number as proof of notification.

Step 3

Notify non-member facility owners

Non-member companies are not notified by Dig Safe.  See our Laws at a Glance chart to find out what types of utilities companies are required to be members of Dig Safe.

Click here to get a list of existing Dig Safe members, by state.

Step 4

Wait the required time

After notifying Dig Safe, you must wait 48 hours in Vermont, or 72 hours in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. (Excluding weekends and legal holidays.)

During this time, utility representatives respond to mark their lines within your pre-marked area. They use this uniform color code system so the type of facility is indentified.

Step 5

Respect the marks

Remember that pipes, cables, and wires can be buried at any depth, so it can be risky to dig in close proximity of a buried line. This is why the laws of our five New England states observe a Safety Zone (or Tolerance Zone) requirement.

The use of mechanized equipment is prohibited when digging within 18 inches of a buried facility. In this Safety Zone (or Tolerance Zone), you must dig by hand, carefully, to avoid damage.

Step 6

Maintain the marks

Make sure the utility marks stay intact during your project. If the marks are compromised for any reason, call Dig Safe back at 811.

In Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, your ticket expires if the excavation has not started before 30 days from the date of issue.

Ticket Expiration

In Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, Dig Safe tickets expire 30 days from the date of issue.

In Maine, tickets expire every 60 days from the date of issue.

In Rhode Island, tickets do not expire, provided that the marks are maintained.

For a more details, see our Laws At A Glance

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