Learn more about the required information for a short code & long code application and approval process, limitations and guidelines in the US and Canada:

What is a short code?

Common Short Codes (CSCs) are short numeric codes of five or six digits, compatible across carriers, to which text messages can be sent from a mobile phone. Wireless subscribers send text messages to short codes to access a wide variety of mobile content. Many entities use CSCs to communicate with interested parties: television stations; individual television shows; radio stations; instant messaging services; political, advocacy, and other organizations; magazines, and sports teams — among others. Users send a message to the CSC to subscribe to alerts or other messages.

Read our short code program guidelines

What is the difference between a dedicated short code v.s. a shared short code?

There are two kinds of short codes, dedicated and shared. If a business purchases their own short code it is considered a dedicated short code, in that it is dedicated solely for the purpose of that business to be able to text message their own contacts. A shared short code is one that is shared by multiple accounts with each individual account distinguished by a specific keyword.

How can I get a short code? 

Keep in mind that a dedicated short code must be approved by each US carrier for specific service types eg. alerts, PINs, polls, marketing and others. TeleMessage manages the US carrier approval process for you with a hassle-free registration service that manages the complete application and dedicated short code provisioning process.

We’ll guide you through the application and approval of your dedicated short code—contact us now. 

What are short codes used for? 

Short codes can be used for anything but most commonly used for A2P Communication (Application-to-Person): when an application interacts with a person. e.g. notifications & alerts, marketing campaigns, confirmations. 

Short codes in a nutshell: 


  • Carrier approved: each short code is submitted and approved by carriers before running on their network
  • Short codes are allowed to send at high throughput rates
  • Standard messaging rate for end user
  • More memorable


  • Have a set cost to purchase—can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars per month
  • Vetting process can take time
  • Limited to national borders
  • Can’t call short codes back


What is a long code? 

Long Codes are just like your mobile phone number. In the U.S., a long code is simply a 10 digit phone number to which you can text or call. Just like a short code, users send a message to the long code to subscribe to alerts or other content. Long codes are generally less regulated than short codes and can be lower cost depending on message volume, but the absence of regulation can make them open to bad marketing practices such as unsolicited ‘spam’ messages.

How can I get a long code?

Just contact us, and we’d be happy to help you get a long code. 

What are long codes used for? 

P2P (Person to Person) Communication: when a person interacts with another person, e.g. group messaging, agent-to-person apps, peer-to-peer apps.

Long codes in a nutshell:


  • Cost much less than short codes
  • International reach 
  • Can send messages and make calls from the same number
  • Easy set up, and can be launched the same day 


  • Does not support MMS (picture & video messaging)
  • Can be blocked by carrier spam engines
  • Limited in the number of messages per second (aka throughput)
  • Cannot be used for carrier billing (DCB or PSMS)
  • Standard messaging rates for the end user
  • Difficult to remember


Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) & CTIA (The Wireless Association) Short Code Rules 

To protect consumers, the wireless carriers set up a group called the CTIA to enforce SMS marketing practices that are in the best interests of the consumer. To do this, the CTIA carries out audits on SMS programs based on the rules found in their CTIA Short Code Compliance Handbook. If a text messaging campaign is found to be in violation of any of the guidelines in the CTIA Short Code Compliance Handbook, the text messaging campaign can be deactivated by the wireless carriers.


Long Code Best Practices Rules

Unlike short codes, long codes do not have definitive guidelines for acceptable use. However, if you’re planning on sending marketing messages, you should use short codes. Here’s why: due to consumer protection regulations put in place by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), companies sending marketing messages via SMS must first request permission from a consumer and provide a level of value in exchange. This helps to protect the consumer and equips you to create a more successful SMS marketing program. 


Read more about the types of SMS messages TeleMessage supports.


Have a question about short or long codes? Contact us!