Changing the Default Country for Contacts

Several users recently asked similar questions. One user wants Outlook to default to Canada when creating new contacts, the other user moved and Outlook is still defaulting to his old country when he creates new contacts.

What setting, in what control panel, does Outlook call to default the country when creating a new contact?

The default country for my Outlook Contacts is different from the timezone on my PC. How can I get Contacts to default to my country? Outlook Contacts assumes a new contact is always in the country I used to live (and where the current Outlook version on my computer was set up). I would like a new contact to default to my new location but can't find how to do this.

Outlook gets the default country for contact addresses from Region and Language Options in Window's Control Panel. (This is called Region in Windows 8.)

Check address dialog

The default country in the Check phone number dialog box is set in Phone and Modem options.

Check phone dialog

If you moved, you need to change the country in Regional options as well as in Phone and Modem options. Both are in Windows Control Panel.

Typically, users will use the same country in Regional options and as the Location in Phone and Modem Options, but if they are different, the contact's phone number field will use the Phone and Modem Location.

This user had the format set to "English (United States)". Changing it to English (Canada) will cause Outlook to use Canada as the default for addresses in new contacts. If you are using US (or any other country) because you prefer the number formatting styles, you can change those to anything you like. See How to change the Calendar date format in Microsoft Outlook for instructions.

Change Windows Regional Setting

In Windows 7 and 8 you can either change the display language in Windows or use the Region dialog. In Windows 7, open the Control panel and look for Region and Language (in Windows 8 its called Region) and choose the desired country from the Formats tab.

In Windows XP, go to Control Panel and find Regional and Language Options. Choose the desired country.

In my experience, the change takes effect immediately and you will not need to restart Outlook. If the change is not showing in the Check Address dialog, restart Outlook or reboot the computer.

Regional and Language Settings in Windows XP

Change Phone and Modem Settings

To change the phone and modem settings, open the Control Panel and find Phone and Modem.

Double-click on My Location to update the location or click New to add an additional location. Outlook will use the location that is selected as your current location when you add a phone number to a contact. It also affects the dialer.

Outlook Phone numbers use the phone and modem location

(Merged Tip 924: Changing the Default Country for Contacts and Tip 870: Changing the default country for new contacts)

Published October 21, 2011. Last reviewed on January 1, 2014.

  • Tim Messer

    Just what I was looking for, thanks!

  • Nitin

    This does not work. Even if I have changed regional local to India, Still I am getting blank while creating new contacts.

  • Bob Lepp

    Required a reboot for me Win 7, Outlook 2007

  • Ryan

    Hi thanks for the suggestion but i have tried this before and it still shows Unted States as standard country.. i have Outlook 2007 in combination with WIN7.. please help...

  • Diane Poremsky

    What language is Windows set to use? Also, that only applies to new contacts going forward, not existing contacts. You can use a Group by Country/Region field and drag between groups to correct the countries on existing contacts.

  • Greg Douglas

    I agree with the other people posting - I have confirmed that setting is, was and likely always will be set to "Canada" but Outlook appears to suggest I should move. I'm kind of fond of my country and not really wanting to move to the US -Sorry Bill Gates.

    If anyone has a solution that actually works, versus just posting an idea as a solution and apparently not actually trying it out, please let us know!

  • Konstantin Kostov

    I am located in Sweden, but do not speak Swedish and my regional settings are set accordingly, i.e. location = Sweden, language = English, keyboard = Swedish.
    Every time I try to add a new contact the Country/Region field in the phone numbers is set to United States and I have to scroll down to find Sweden, or whatever country the contacts is. I am using Win 7 and Outlook 2010.
    So, the above tip does not help people located in non-English speaking countries.

  • Diane Poremsky

    For phone numbers, what is your Location in Phone and Modem Options?

  • Konstantin Kostov

    The default location was USA. Thank you! Now it works.

  • Karen

    Control Panel, Phone and Modem will allow you change the default location. Under Phone and Modem, go to Dialing Rules, change My Location and set it for your country. You can also add dialing prefix by location.

  • Neil

    I am not convinced this can work for me. I live in UAE, so want the default for new contacts to be this country and the default ISD no to be 971. My current region format is English UK which explains why I get the address default of UK and 44 for the ISD. But the only obvious option to change it to is Arabic UAE which affects a whole lot of other regional settings. While some can be overridden, for some only Arabic remains an option. Am I missing something in trying to resolve this annoyance??

  • D Poremsky

    No, I don't think you are missing anything - you pretty much summed it up correctly. You should be able to change the default isd in phone and modem options. (But I seem to recall it doesn't work in win8 and used the region setting instead, will need to double check that.)

    I've tried custom forms and macros to change the default when i open a new form and haven't found a way to force it to a different country for the address. As soon as I type an address, it reverts to the regional company.