Text Message Marketing Resources > QA Videos > How Do You Get an SMS Short Code?

How Do You Get an SMS Short Code?



In the video above, Tatango CEO Derek Johnson goes over the process of getting a dedicated short code. Prefer to read instead? No problem, please see the post below. You can also find answers to all of your SMS marketing questions in our Q&A video library, click here to browse.


What is an SMS Short Code?

An SMS short code is a 5 to a 6-digit phone number that allows a brand to communicate via text message with a consumer.

There are two versions of a short code that are available, a vanity short code and a generic short code. A vanity short code is a specifically chosen phone number (e.g. 007007, 411411, 12345, etc.) whereas a generic short code is chosen at random (e.g. 40851, 493573, 49930, etc.). Vanity short codes tend to be easier for consumers to recall because they have a more cohesive set of numbers. For example, if you’re driving by a billboard and see a company’s short code, you’re more likely to recall a vanity short code because the numbers seem to go together. This makes it much easier to subscribe to the campaign because you remember the catchy short code.


Where Do You Get an SMS Short Code?

You can obtain a short code from an organization called the U.S. Short Code Administration. The U.S. Short Code Administration is the only governing body that has short codes, and it can lease them to brands.


Can My SMS Software Provider Get an SMS Short Code For Me?

Yes. Although, some companies prefer to go directly to the U.S. Short Code Administration. But most people will default to the easier alternative, they will use what we call an SMS aggregator, an SMS provider, or an SMS API provider, to acquire the short code for them. Many prefer to outsource acquiring a short code to an SMS provider, such as Tatango, because they are well versed in the process and know exactly how to fill out the required information. Tatango knows how to work with the U.S. Short Code Administration, making it really simple for the brand. If a brand goes directly to the U.S. Short Code provider or Short Code Administration, they have to figure out all of the requirements and set up an account. It simply makes it easier to work with an SMS software provider, versus learning and managing all the documentation, rules, and regulations yourself.


How Much Does an SMS Short Code Cost?

A dedicated short code is either $1,000 per month for a vanity short code or $500 per month for a generic short code. The majority of SMS aggregators and SMS software providers will simply charge you the $500/$1,000 rate that the U.S. Short Code Administration charges. So, there really is no reason to go through the hassle of obtaining a short code on your own.


Once I Get an SMS Short Code, Can I Start Sending Messages?

Obtaining a short code is simply the first step in your SMS marketing journey. Once you have the code, you need the wireless carriers to approve it. The short code approval process requires an application and usually takes some time. Next, you will need to host the short code, determine which software you want to use, and pay for both the software and the messages. Obtaining a short code is just the beginning. There is a lot more work to be done, which is why an SMS aggregator or an SMS provider can help you navigate it all.

If you’d like to learn more about Tatango and what you can do with our software, please click here.

Jump to Content