SMS Short Code

Mass Texting with an Easy Number to Remember

What is an SMS Short Code?

SMS short codes are the backbone of text messaging - they are five or six-digit numbers that can be use for mass texting. Unlike traditional ten-digit phone numbers, short codes are easy to memorize, have brand equity, and can be used for mass messaging (we’re talking about thousands of messages a minute). Short codes are the industry standard for mass messaging because they are both very recognizable and very powerful, allowing businesses to reach their audience wherever they are. There are two types of short codes, please read on to learn more.

What are Shared SMS Short Codes?

One of the only drawbacks of SMS short codes is the fact that they can be pricey. Shared shortcodes helped to mitigate costs by allowing organizations to share one single shortcode. This means that different teams in your company could use one code, and organize your campaigns around keywords. If you are trying to check out SMS texting or have a limited budget, shared short codes used to be the industry standard. Unfortunately, shared shortcodes also come with a number of drawbacks, which is why wireless carriers have started to shut them down.


  • Shared short code iconKeyword Competition

    Because the single code is shared across multiple users, the "pool" of available keywords for any business to use becomes limited. So for example, if two pizza shops on the same shared code wanted to use the text keyword "Slice", only one of them would be able to.

    Email IconMessage Routing

    Imagine that 1,000 people lived in your home with you, and when someone tried to send you mail, they could only include the address, not your name. It would become incredibly hard to decipher which piece of mail was meant for which person. Similarly, shared codes make it incredibly difficult to route inbound messages to the correct user's inbox.

  • Two-way conversation iconReliance on Other Users

    There are many compliance regulations that govern text messaging for businesses. With a shared code, if a single user out of a thousand misuses the code and sends non-compliant messages, wireless carriers could shut down the entire code, leaving the 999 other users out of luck.

    Image of a radio towerCarrier Shutdown

    Carriers have discontinued shared short codes because of all of these drawbacks and their ability to be used by bad actors. High-throughput toll-free numbers have many of the same benefits of shared codes without any of these drawbacks.

What are Dedicated Short Codes?

A dedicated SMS short code can only used by a single organization or user. The main disadvantage of these codes as noted above is that they can be prohibitively expensive for some.


  • Icong of a text message getting a donationExpanded Use Cases

    Dedicated codes are allowed by carriers to run otherwise prohibited types of text campaigns including text-to-win and text-to-donate programs.

    Icon of a phone messageMessage Routing

    Since these codes are only used by a single organization, inbound messages can be accurately delivered to them.

  • Icon of an eye inspectingMore Recognizable

    A short code can be as recognizable to your customer as your twitter account or website address.

    Completed task iconMore Keyword Options

    You aren't limited by other people already using your SMS mobile keyword, which gives you creative freedom to choose whatever keyword you like.

There are two types of dedicated codes:

  • Vanity

    These codes can be specifically chosen by the user, much like a custom license plate. Vanity codes offer branding opportunities, as you can spell out certain words or choose easy to remember number sequences.

  • Random Number

    These are numbers that are randomly generated for you. Random dedicated numbers offer the same advantages as a vanity code but can often cost less.

Limitations and Compliance

Phone Web Search Icon

Less Recognizable

Most people are more used to 10-digit long code numbers, and are not immediately able to identify short codes as a phone number. This means if you are trying to communicate with customers or members, you may get less engagement.

Not Voice-Enabled

They cannot be used for phone calls like long codes can, so you will need to operate two numbers, one for texting and one for calls. This can become cumbersome when advertising because you have to publish two separate instructions and numbers for contacting you.

Icon of a phone ringing excessively
Short codes are often restricted to sending messages to one country.

Geography Restrictions for Short Codes

Similarly to how long code phone numbers have different codes for different countries, short codes also have limitations when trying to message outside of their country. Because of this, if you want to send messages to different countries, you would need to acquire a different code for each one. Otherwise, the costs can get out of hand just like international phone calls.


There are many laws and regulations that govern who you are allowed to text, when, and with what content. To read more about these, click here.

Law and order Icon

Short Code FAQ

  • + What is a short code audit?

    A short code audit is the monitoring of short codes by wireless carriers. This usually occurs when a wireless carrier finds that the short code is not following the rules and regulations that they set out. Be careful to read up on all of the rules and regulations by your wireless carrier, because thef punishment can widely vary depending on the severity of the infraction. You do not want to get your code taken away from you by a silly mistake. Remember to always include opt out disclosures in messages to better protect yourself.

  • + Do SMS messages get filtered by the carriers?

    When you apply for a short code, you make an agreement to follow the content regulations. This pre-approves the messages you end up sending in the future.

    For this reason short code SMS messages are not filtered by carriers, unless carriers receive spam complaints about a certain code or the code is audited.

  • + Can any business get an SMS short code?

    In essence, most businesses should be able to acquire their own dedicated code with little to no problems. However, for businesses whose services promote or produce content that is not within the guidelines (ex. Alcoholic products, firearms, tobacco, and etc.), getting a code approved becomes substantially more difficult and at times can be denied.

  • + When companies say a short code costs $XXX, what does that include?

    The price that companies provide for codes usually only include your ability to lease a short code. This means it does not include the services needed to provision the code for use on the different wireless carrier networks. At Trumpia, we provide that service for a fee, so that our customers do not need to go through the painstaking process of keeping their codes active on the various networks.


With Trumpia, you can add on a dedicated short code to any of our plans. This gives you the freedom to build a brand with your number and eliminates any messaging throughput issues due to Trumpia’s high volume. To see our plan's pricing, please see our Pricing page.