Excavator FAQ - Virginia811

Excavator FAQ

Common Questions from Excavators

Whether you’re seeking guidance on mapping, the Positive Response system, or Web Ticket Entry (WTE), our FAQ section provides valuable information tailored for Excavators.

What map books do you use?

Mapping the Dig Site

Virginia 811 no longer uses ADC®, 911, Chamber of Commerce, or VDOT maps with different grid systems. We also no longer use the statewide grid system that we once used that is based on latitude / longitude – quarter minute grids. Since 2007, we have been using mapping provided by the Virginia Geographic Information Network (VGIN).  VGIN’s map data gives us access to orthophotography in addition to the streets and roads.  The VGIN maps are accurate geospatial data.  Additional information on the VGIN map data can be found on their website: https://vgin.vdem.virginia.gov/pages/base-mapping.

What is Virginia 811?

How the 811 Process Works

Virginia 811® is the free Virginia information exchange center for excavators, contractors and property owners planning any kind of excavation, digging or demolition work. Virginia 811 notifies participating utilities of the upcoming excavation work so they can locate and mark their underground facilities in advance to prevent possible damage to underground utility lines, injury, property damage and service outages.

“Virginia 811” is a registered trademark of the Virginia Utility Protection Service, Inc. – a non-profit association of underground utility owners in Virginia.

Yes. Virginia 811 offers free training on the Act and the Damage Prevention program.


Virginia 811 also provides at no cost Computer Based Training on the Damage Prevention Act.  This can be done at your convenience.



The Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act (sometimes referred to as the “Act”) is legislation passed by the Virginia Assembly. Only the General Assembly can change the Act. The State Corporation Commission is the agency that enforces the Act.

The Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act Rules contain certain clarifications to language and defines standards. The State Corporation Commission uses the Rules to help enforce the Act.

Both the Act and the Rules apply to all stakeholders.

Everyone in Virginia is a stakeholder. The utility companies and their contractors, excavators, and the general public all benefit from the campaign to prevent underground utility damage.

Call the utility operator immediately (DO NOT call Virginia 811) . If there is a dangerous or emergency situation, call 911 immediately and clear the area.

Do not attempt to repair the damage yourself. Do not backfill if there is any damage.

Covering over a damaged utility line may lead to a serious accident later as the weakened line corrodes or weathers.

Contact Virginia 811 and request re-marking (This is called a “re-mark” ticket.) This is usually completed within 48 hours/2 working days. If the marks cannot be seen, do not dig until re-marking is completed.

Click here to process your remark ticket online.

Yes. If marks become eradicated or faded and you would like to have them remarked, contact Virginia  811, provide the ticket number and a “REMARK” ticket will be issued. The locators have 48 hrs. to respond to this type of ticket, just the same as a regular ticket.

Click here to process your remark ticket online.

For a Normal Ticket, until after 7:00 AM on the 16th working day.

No. Contact Virginia 811 only for work that you plan to start within the next fifteen working days. Be sure to request your ticket at least 3 working days before you plan to dig. Entering tickets more than 15 working days in advance means utility locators are doing unnecessary work which may prevent them from getting to more urgent jobs.

Click here to enter your Single Address Ticket.

If you arrive at the site of a proposed excavation and find unmarked utilities, Do NOT start digging. Call Virginia 811 and report the details. Then wait three hours for the utility locator to mark the line. If, after three hours, the line is still unmarked, call Virginia 811 again. Digging in the area of an unmarked underground utility line is extremely dangerous.

First, check the Virginia Positive Response System. (You will receive an email with Positive Response information if you have provided Virginia 811 with an email address at the time your ticket was entered.)  Extraordinary circumstances may prevent utility operators/contract locators from completing the marking within 2 working days. If one or more utilities have not marked their lines or reported “clear” or “no conflict”, they will automatically receive a second notice and should quickly have the site marked or call you to notify you of the date and time when the area will be marked.

If there are extraordinary circumstances, you must be notified and marking must be completed within 96 hours (four working days beginning at 7 AM on the next working day after the call) unless a longer time is agreed upon by both parties.

The 2-working day marking period starts at 7 AM on the next working day after the call. It does not include weekends or official state or federal holidays. If you contact Virginia 811 at 10 AM on a Friday, your 2 day marking period is over at 7 AM on the following Wednesday (Saturday and Sunday don’t count).

Wait 2 full working days, beginning at 7 AM on the next working day after making contact, to give the utilities time to locate and mark the underground lines. If you provide an e-mail address when you contact Virginia 811, the Positive Response System will send you a notice when all utilities have responded to confirm that marking is complete. If you do not receive this message, you are required to call 811 or toll free 1-800-552-3120 to check the Positive Response System by telephone. Once you receive confirmation that marking is complete, you may begin excavation.

Contact Virginia 811 before you dig.
Allow required time for marking.
Respect the marks.
Excavate carefully.

No. Utility operators or their contract locators locate and mark their own utilities.  Virginia 811 is the information hub that provides information from folks planning to dig to the utilities or their contract locators.

Each notice of excavation received at the Virginia 811 contact center receives a “number”. This identifies the call and the information provided by the excavator. These notices are commonly known as “Locate Requests” or “Virginia 811 Tickets” and excavators are required to keep the “Ticket Number” with them on the job site.
Virginia 811 uses a numbering sequence that includes the date that the call was received. The information below explains the significance of the numbers.

  • We have two servers that can issue tickets. One is located at our Blue Hills Circle office in Roanoke, VA (server A) and the other is located at our office in the Roanoke Higher Education Center (server B). Tickets can be issued by either server and for this reason the first character in the ticket numbers is either an A or B to identify which one issued the ticket. Each server issues its own sequence number and utility owners or contract locators receive two separate “end of day notices” listing the tickets sent to them.
  • The next character indicates the year. for example 3 = 2003.
  • The next three characters (182) indicate the day of issue – the 182nd day of the year.
  • The last five characters (00001) are the sequence order of issue. (Hopefully we will not have more than 99,999 tickets in one day for years to come…

How do I identify the paint marks and/or flags?

Virginia Marking Standards – Letter Designations

Each utility owner has been assigned specific letter designations that are to be used to identify the paint marks at the jobsite.

Click here to see the list of assigned letter designations.

When using this page you can view the list of codes or search for the “Company” or the “Marking Code” using the quick search option. Click the “Show All” link to display the entire list. You can sort the list in either Ascending or Descending order by “Company” or “Marking Code” by clicking on the appropriate column header.

Click here to see the Virginia Marking Standards booklet. 
Right click and select “Save Target As…” to save the file to your computer for faster printing.

Who can I contact to locate private utility lines?

Utility Locating Contractors

Contact the State Health Department office in your county or city. Drawings with detailed measurements are required to be on file for new homes and there may be records available for older homes.

No, the Virginia 811 notification center does not locate any underground utilities. It does send a notice to the public utility owners who have joined the notification center as required by Virginia law. The public utility owners who receive the notice locate their lines or hire utility locating contractors to do this work. Private utility line owners (generally homeowners) must locate the lines that they own on their property or hire a locating contractor to do this work.

The term “private utility lines” refers to the portion of an underground utility that is generally located on private property between the meter and the building. In the case of water service lines, the meter is often located underground in a “meter box” at the property line. The water pipe from the meter box to the house is owned by the homeowner. The homeowner is responsible for maintenance of this line including repair of leaks and locating prior to excavation. In some localities, the underground sewer line from the main line in the street to the house is owned by the homeowner and is a “private utility line”. Other examples of “private utility lines” are: lawn sprinkler piping, invisible pet fence wires, electric wires to lampposts or outbuildings, and propane lines from the tank to the house.

I need help with my Web Ticket Entry account.

For existing Web Ticket Entry users

Click here to see the Web Ticket Entry instructions.
Right click and select “Save Target As…” to save the file to your computer for faster printing.

How does the Positive Response System work?

Check status of marking before excavating!

Natural gas and hazardous liquid pipeline owners, sensitive communications line owners, and others may want to be on the job site when you dig near their lines. The normal procedure is for them to call you, using the contact information that you provided when you contacted Virginia 811. If you do not hear from them by the end of the marking period, use the field contact information on the e-mail confirmation from the Positive Response System to call the utility company. If there is no field contact, call Virginia 811 for assistance.

Locators are required to document who they spoke to that agreed to the extension. It may be possible that the locator spoke to someone at the job site, so check with your staff first. If no one talked to the locator, you may want to call the utility using the “Field Contact” information found on the e-mail confirmation from the Positive Response System. If there is no field contact information, call Virginia 811to get a contact number or to request a 3-hour notice.

When you contact Virginia 811, you will be asked for an e-mail address or a fax number. If you provide either, our computer system will send you a confirmation message:  1) As soon as all utilities have posted a response on the system  2) or at the end of the 48 hour marking period (at 7 AM on the third working day after your call). In addition, our system will send you a confirmation message if any utilities post a second or third response (change their response code).

If you do not provide an e-mail address or a fax number, Virginia law requires that you call our Positive Response System at 1-800-552-3120 before any digging begins.

Remember, you may begin excavation as soon as all utilities have responded that their facilities have been marked or that they have no facilities in the construction area.

IMPORTANT – Unless you have a dedicated fax telephone number and a fax machine that is capable of “automatically” answering an incoming fax call and receiving a message, do not provide us with your fax number. A fax number that is the same as your phone number will not work. We have received complaints about our system calling fax machines at night. Our center operates 24 /7. We make three attempts to deliver fax confirmation messages.

How can I contact the center?

Phone / Web Ticket Entry

Yes, you can enter notices 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Web Tickets entered prior to midnight on any “working day” as defined in the Damage Prevention Act will have time periods calculated beginning at 7:00 AM on the next working day after they are entered. Tickets entered on weekends or holidays will have time periods that begin at 7:00 AM on the second working day after they are entered.(Normal tickets cannot be “taken” on weekends or holidays. They are treated as if they were entered on the first working day after the weekend or holiday.)

Professional excavators are encouraged to use our Web Ticket Entry program.  In order to get a Web Ticket Account, you will be required to participate in a training session provided by Virginia 811 (at no cost).  The Virginia Web Ticket Entry system does not just involve entering text information, it involves using our GIS mapping system as you identify your excavation area.

To request Web Ticket Entry training, please visit our Training section for information on how to get training.

If you are a homeowner, working on your own property, or a professional excavator working at a single address, click here to enter your ticket using our Single Address Tickets program.

The contact center is open from 7 AM to 5 PM to take all types of “notices of excavation” by telephone.

Virginia state law defines an emergency as follows – “Emergency” means a sudden or unexpected occurrence involving a clear and imminent danger, demanding immediate action to prevent or mitigate loss of, or damage to, life, health, property, or essential public services.

Call before you dig  811 or 1-800-552-7001
Positive Response System 811, press 2 or call 1-800-552-3120
To reach the Help Desk – Press 3
Business Office (See “Who should I contact?” below.) 1-540-985-9355


A list of Federal and Virginia state Holidays observed by Virginia 811

The call center is CLOSED and only takes Emergency or 3 Hour Notice tickets on these holidays.


January 1, 2024 – New Year’s Day
January 15, 2024 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
February 19, 2024 – George Washington Day (Known outside Virginia as President’s Day)
May 27, 2024 – Memorial Day
June 19, 2024 – Juneteenth (Observed)
July 4, 2024 – Independence Day
September 2, 2024 – Labor Day
October 14, 2024 – Columbus Day and Yorktown Victory Day
November 5, 2024 – Election Day
November 11, 2024 – Veterans Day
November 28, 2024 – Thanksgiving Day
November 29, 2024 – Day After Thanksgiving Holiday
December 25, 2024 – Christmas

In addition to Saturdays and Sundays, these dates do not count as “working days” in any of the time limits cited in the Damage Prevention Act. Tickets entered by Web Ticket Entry on these dates or on weekends are entered into the computer system as if the call were received on the first working day after the holiday or weekend. The Code of Virginia defines Legal Holidays in Title 2.2, Chapter 33, Section 2.2-3300.


January 1, 2024 – New Year’s Day
January 15, 2024 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
February 19, 2024 – George Washington Day (Known outside Virginia as President’s Day)
May 27, 2024 – Memorial Day
June 19, 2024 – Juneteenth (Observed)
July 4, 2024 – Independence Day
September 2, 2024 – Labor Day
October 14, 2024 – Columbus Day and Yorktown Victory Day
November 5, 2024 – Election Day
November 11, 2024 – Veterans Day
November 28, 2024 – Thanksgiving Day
November 29, 2024 – Day After Thanksgiving Holiday
December 25, 2024 – Christmas

How deep are the utilities?

Excavate Carefully

Contact the utility owner directly to obtain an estimate for relocating the utility line. You can find the phone number on your latest bill or on the utility’s website.

Carefully expose the utility line by starting to dig from the sides of the marked utility to determine its location by using hand tools. Remember the utility can be up to 2 feet away from the mark. Once you have determined the exact location of the underground utility you will be able to safely work to remove the shrub. If you have difficulties such as the roots are severely tangled up with the lines you may want to contact the utility company that owns/services the line for further assistance.

Since July 1, 2002, Section 56-257 of the Code of Virginia has specified that underground utility lines must be installed at depths that are “in accordance with accepted industry standards”. Even if you know the date of installation of an underground utility, there is no guarantee that the line will be at a standard depth. On new home construction, the final grade of a new lawn may change as construction crews move dirt that covers the utilities. For this reason, Virginia law requires that excavators use care when excavating near marked utilities. NEVER assume that a underground utility is at a specific depth. Over time it is possible that underground utility lines will rise towards the surface due to grading, erosion, etc.

The only way to accurately determine the depth of a utility line is to carefully uncover it by hand digging. Most utility companies will not provide depth information because of the potential for error, even when using the latest electronic equipment. If you need to excavate over a marked line and you need to know the depth for the installation of a driveway, etc., carefully expose the utility by hand digging at reasonable distances along the line of excavation – as described in the Damage Prevention Act.

How do I report an incident to the State Corporation Commission?

Report incident

Contact Us

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Back to top