SMS Short Code

Mass Texting with an Easy Number to Remember

What are Short Codes?

Short codes are 5- or 6-digit numbers that are used to send text messages in bulk, rather than to one person at a time. While most phone numbers that you are familiar with are 10 digits long, short codes are a great number option because they are “short”, easy to remember, and have the highest throughput for mass messaging. Short codes are considered a standard in the industry because up until recently, they were the only numbers that businesses were allowed to use to mass message. There are two types of short codes, shared and dedicated.

What are Shared Short Codes?

Short codes can cost a lot. Because of this, shared short codes are ones that multiple organizations use at the same time. This in turn leads them to being significantly more affordable, making it an attractive option for those who are just trying out short code texting or who have a limited budget. Unfortunately, shared short codes also come with a number of drawbacks, which have caused wireless carriers to begin shutting them down.

Drawbacks of Shared Short Codes

  • Keyword 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 short code wanted to use the mobile keyword “Slice”, only one of them would be able to.

    Message 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 short codes make it incredibly difficult to route inbound messages to the correct user’s inbox.

  • Reliance on Other Users

    There are many compliance regulations that govern text messaging for businesses. With a shared short 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.

    Carrier Shutdown

    With the risk that comes with using shared short codes, wireless carriers are taking action into their own hands, shutting down these codes throughout the year.

What are Dedicated Short Codes?

A dedicated short code is a short code that is 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.

Advantages of Dedicated Short Codes

  • Expanded 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.

    Message Routing

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

  • More Recognizable

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

    More 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 short 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

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

Short codes 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.

Geography Restrictions for Short Codes

Similarly to how long code phone numbers have different codes for different countries, so to do short code 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 short 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.

Short Code FAQ

  • + What is a short code audit?

    This is an official inspection of how a short code is being used. It occurs when a short code does not meet one or more of the basic guidelines required by a wireless carrier. Depending on the transgression, the consequences can differ. At times you will only be asked to change some wording in the messages you are sending. At other times, the short code can be suspended. For this reason it is very important to remember to include opt out disclosures in messages and make sure the content being sent does not violate any carrier requirements.

  • + Do short code 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 short code or the short code is audited.

  • + Can any business get an SMS short code?

    In essence, most businesses should be able to acquire their own dedicated short 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 short 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 the short 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 short codes active on the various networks.


With Trumpia, you can add on a dedicated short code to any of our plans. Our diversity of options are created to provide flexibility so you can get exactly what you need. To see our plans pricing, you can go to our Pricing page.