When launching a mobile messaging campaign, you’ll need to get a SMS short code. To get a short code, you’ll need to follow the 3-steps below, to not only get a short code, but provision the code so you can start using it to send and receive text messages with consumers.


Can I Buy a SMS Short Code Number?

A common question we receive is can someone buy a SMS short code numbers? Unfortunately the answer is no, as all SMS short codes are leased in the United States, and cannot be bought outright.


Step 1 – Lease Short Code

To get a short code, the first step is to lease the short code. When leasing a short code, you have two different short code options to select from. The first option is to lease a non-vanity short code, which is a 5-6 digit phone number that is selected at random by the Short Code Registry, and given to you to use. For example, non-vanity short codes would be numbers like 39732, 958372, 34930, etc. A non-vanity short code will cost you $500/month to lease.

The second option is to lease a vanity short code, which is a 5-6 digit phone number, and is selected specifically by you. Usually vanity short codes are selected over non-vanity short codes, because they’re easier for consumers to remember the numbers. For example, vanity short codes would be numbers like 12345, 313131, 711711, etc. A vanity short code will cost you $1,000/month to lease.

Once payment has been received for your short code, whether it’s a non-vanity or vanity short code, the short code is now yours.


Step 2 – Submit Short Code Application

After you’ve successfully leased a short code, the next step will be to submit a short code application. A short code application is a lengthy document that requires you to disclose to the wireless carriers who you are, and how you’ll be using the short code. Because having your short code application approved is critical to launching a mobile messaging campaign, the vast majority of brands will have either an Application Provider or SMS Aggregator submit the short code application on their behalf. If done correctly, a short code application is usually accepted or denied within a few business days.

If the short code application is denied, the brand will have to re-submit a new short code application based on the wireless carrier feedback. This process can significantly slow down the short code provisioning process, which is why most brands rely on a trusted partner to submit their short code application.


Step 3 – Short Code Provisioning

Once a short code application has been approved, unfortunately you still can’t send and receive text messages using that short code. The last step to being able to send and receive text messages using your new short code is for that short code to go through the short code provisioning process.

The short code provisioning process is actually pretty complicated, and has a lot of different moving parts. The steps below outline what is involved to provision a new short code.

  1. An SMS aggregator must first host the short code, which sets the entire short code provisioning process in motion.
  2. When a short code is hosted on an SMS aggregator, it’s then connected to all of the various wireless carriers.
  3. Once connected, you’ll need to file another short code application with the SMS aggregator. This new application will be much more detailed, and will cover how the campaign is going to be advertised, and most importantly, what you’ll be sending to mobile subscribers. This application will also require you to disclosure message content for carrier required messaging, like the HELP & STOP messages.
  4. Once the SMS aggregator has approved the short code application, it’s then passed onto all the wireless carriers for their approval, and subsequent testing of the campaign.

Once a wireless carrier has approved the short code application, they’ll turn on messaging for your new short code. It’s important to note though that not all wireless carriers work at the same speed, so you’ll have to wait till all wireless carriers turn on messaging to your short code, before you can actually launch your mobile messaging campaign.