Missouri 811 - How the Process Works

Mar 20, 2024 10:45:39 AM | News Missouri 811 - How the Process Works

Missouri 811 serves as a communication link between individuals planning to dig and public utility companies.

What service does Missouri 811 provide?

Before Missouri 811 was founded, excavators were not only responsible for excavating, but they were also responsible for identifying each utility owner and calling them all individually to request that they locate their underground utilities. This process was very time-consuming and inefficient for excavators and utility owners alike. As a result, injuries and damages continued to increase, thus forcing the government to create the Missouri Underground Facility Safety and Damage Prevention Act RSMO 319. This Act provided a set of laws and regulations that standardized the digging process and paved the way for Missouri One Call Systems (later rebranded as Missouri 811 in 2023) to be established in 1986.

Missouri 811 is a not-for-profit organization that serves as the central point of contact for locating all public underground utilities throughout the state. Under the RSMO 319 laws, everyone in the state of Missouri is required to contact Missouri 811 to request a FREE underground utility locate before starting any digging project. Once Missouri 811 is contacted, it bears the responsibility of notifying all the public utility owners in the vicinity of the dig site so they can mark their underground utilities.

Mission Vision

Missouri 811: The Central Point of Contact for Safe Digging

Think of Missouri 811 as the go-to for anyone looking to dig.

Missouri 811 serves as a communication link between individuals planning to dig and public utility companies. Our primary mission is to prevent the unintentional striking of underground utility lines, which can lead to service disruptions, costly repairs, and, most importantly, serious injuries or fatalities. By serving as the central point of contact, Missouri 811 helps facilitate public underground locates for both homeowners and professional excavators.

MO811 operator locator

How Does Utility Marking Work?

Utility marking is a complex process that involves several steps, ensuring accuracy and timeliness in locating underground utilities. Here’s a closer look at how it works:

Notification: The process begins when a homeowner or excavator contacts Missouri 811, at least three working days in advance, as stipulated by state law, to allow sufficient time for the utility marking process. This notification is typically done online or by phone.

Information Gathering: Missouri 811 collects detailed information about the proposed dig site so we can contact the appropriate utility owners. The more accurate the information, the better Missouri 811 and the public utilities can support the excavator or homeowner.

The following information will be requested by Missouri 811 when submitting a locate request:

 Excavator Information:

  1. Excavator Name
  2. Phone Number
  3. Mailing Address
  4. Email Address
  5. Type of Work
  6. Type of Equipment
  7. Work Done For (if applicable)
  8. Trenchless Excavation or Explosives (if applicable)
  9. Is the Dig Site Marked with White Flags or Paint
  10. Depth (in FT)

 Location Information:

  1. County and City
  2. Entire Job is Within City Limits
  3. Address or Street Work is On or Along
  4. Nearest Intersecting Street
  5. Second Intersecting Street
  6. Location of Work
  7. Start Date and Time

Public Utility Company Notification: Once the dig site details are collected, Missouri 811 notifies the relevant public utility companies that have infrastructure in the area so they can mark their underground utilities. These can include water, gas, electricity, telecommunications, and sewage services.

Locating the Utilities: Utility companies then dispatch locators to the dig site who use a variety of tools and technologies to identify and mark the locations of their public underground utilities. The tools used may include electromagnetic equipment or signal transmitters.

Color-Coded Markings: The locators mark the ground with color-coded paint or flags, with each color representing a different type of utility. The markings provide a visual guide for areas to avoid when excavating.

color code card-1

Confirm the Marks:
All public utilities are required to mark their underground utilities within three working days of being notified by Missouri 811 unless an extension has been granted. Homeowners and excavators are required to verify that all public utilities have responded to their locate request. This can be done by verifying the status provided by Missouri 811 via email.


Dig With CARE: It is important to remember that locating an underground utility is not an exact science. Each color code mark should be considered an “approximate locate” and extreme caution should be taken if excavation within 24” of either side of the markings is required. This area is considered to be the tolerance zone, and hand digging is highly recommended.

Tolerance zone-1

Safety is in Your Hands. Every Dig. Every Time.

Missouri 811 plays a critical role in protecting the essential underground services by serving as a single point of contact for all public utility locate requests in the state. Remember to contact Missouri 811 at least 3 working days before digging to allow sufficient time for the public utility owners to mark their underground lines. By acting as a bridge between project planners and utility companies, Missouri 811 ensures every dig, big or small, is done with the utmost respect for what lies beneath. Safe digging isn’t just a good idea; IT’s THE LAW.

Missouri 811

Written By: Missouri 811