Frequently Asked Questions
A short code is a five- or six-digit number that can be used to send and receive text messages. Companies use these codes to bring customers into the branded experience through information updates, alerts, loyalty programs, surveys, sweepstakes, and coupon offers. Short codes have high deliverability and open rates, are easy to remember, and enjoy a high level of trust from consumers thanks to federal regulations, industry oversight and best practices that keep spam rates low.
A registered code is one that has made it through the application and payment processes and can now be used by the lessee.
In the U.S. short code are typically either five digits or six digits. Five-digit codes range from 20000 to 99999. Six-digit codes range from 200000 to 999999.
The Short Code Monitoring Handbook describes best practices for using short codes to enable messaging services. All short code programs are encouraged to comply with this basic code of conduct, including:
Providing consumers the best possible user experience;
Honoring consumer choices and preventing abuse of messaging platforms;
Delivering flexible guidelines that communicate compliance values clearly;
Enabling the short code industry to self-regulate; and
Facilitating enforcement measures, if necessary, to protect consumers quickly and consistently.
Learn more at the Short Code Monitoring Handbook page
By routing text messages to and from an organization's mobile application, short codes empower consumers to interact, communicate, stay informed, and get involved. This can include voting, polling, games, contests, coupons, mobile payments, loyalty programs, alerts, donations and more.
In most cases, each wireless service provider has the option of supporting a short code and its associated use. The service provider alone decides whether or not to support a particular code and campaign. Currently, all major national wireless service providers and many regional wireless service providers in the U.S. support short codes and their common use.
A keyword is a word that is sent in a text message by a wireless consumer for the purpose of delineating or eliciting a specific response from the messaging application, for example, "Go" or "Join."
The U.S. Short Code Customer Support Team is available Monday through Friday from 9:00 am and 8:00 pm ET. The company is closed for the following holidays:
January: New Year's Day
May: Memorial Day
July: Independence Day
September: Labor Day
November: Thanksgiving Day
November: Day After Thanksgiving
December: Christmas Day
For technical problems with the actual implementation and operation of your short code program, it is best to contact the wireless service provider or the partners (i.e., the application provider, connection aggregator, or content provider) supporting your campaign. You may also contact the U.S. Short Code Customer Support Team at 866-623-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
No. You must provide a valid address, but it doesn't have to be in the U.S.
Leasing a short code provides the ability to use that number for a campaign. The number of messages you send is determined by the partner you select to manage your campaign, or the wireless service provider.
A short code campaign is the series of text messages an organization sends/receives via a short code to engage an audience. Campaigns begin by promoting the short code via a number of methods including traditional and digital marketing. Then, when consumers respond by texting to the code, the campaign provides them with coupons, information, or alerts. It may also engage them in voting, polling, contests, loyalty programs, or any number of other activities.
Most companies choose partners with proven expertise, such as application providers and aggregators, to work with the wireless service providers to bring mobile campaigns to life.
While the short code itself will be the key to your campaign, ordering/leasing your code from the Short Code Registry is the first step. Your campaign will then be defined by how you use the code to engage customers.
Wireless service providers use different terms for short code campaigns, based on how participants are charged for sending texts and how the messaging is used to engage with the subscriber.
In a Standard campaign, messages may count against the subscriber's monthly data plan, while in a Free to End User (FTEU) campaign (such as fraud alerts from a bank), they will not. In a Charity campaign, the messages themselves may count against the data plan, and the amount of the charitable contribution or donation is added to the subscriber's bill.
The campaign type may also refer to how messaging is used to help the consumer. Campaign types may include authentication, customer care, marketing, operations, or engagement.
There are a few companies such as your wireless service provider that work behind the scenes to ensure your message reaches your customer. Before reaching that point, most lessees select an application provider to help implement their campaign. The application provider will help construct their message and will coordinate with other members of the messaging ecosystem such as aggregators who work with wireless service providers to deliver your text messages to your customers
Partners help take your code from a series of numbers to a whole campaign. They help you construct your message using industry best practices and coordinate with the entire messaging ecosystem to make sure wireless service providers deliver your text messages. Learn more about Partners.
Application providers have web-based platforms to help construct messages and understand key words returned from consumers. Aggregators have integrated messaging links with wireless service providers, enabling text traffic to flow over wireless networks. These key players all interface with the Short Code Registry. Our Partners Page provides an overview of specialized services provided.
First, set up a Short Code Registry account, log in and complete a short code lease application.
Usually only a few minutes. You can secure your lease immediately if paying by credit card. If you pay by check or Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT), the lease is secured once the payment is received and successfully processed.
Codes are only leased through USShortCodes.com however, you can also authorize a partner to lease a code on your behalf. Before authorizing a partner to lease on your behalf it is best to work out who will retain ownership of the lease for the code if the partnership terminates.
Short codes can be leased for three, six, or 12 months with an option for automatic renewal.
Applicants lease codes from the Short Code Registry. They may select a specific 5 or 6-digit number or have one randomly assigned.
You must first define, submit and obtain approval for a campaign from wireless service providers before it can be launched. It is important to note that while you have effectively leased a code once you pay for it, this provisioning process can take two to four weeks. Please take this into consideration when planning your campaign.
- Lease your short code.
- Define your campaign(s) by specifying how your code will engage an audience.
- Select a partner who will help you submit your proposal to the individual wireless service providers for review.
- The submission is vetted and approved or returned.
Continue to update your campaign as information changes.
You will probably need the support of various partners (e.g., application providers, connection aggregators, and/or content providers) to complete these steps and bring your campaign to life. Learn more about potential Partners and their roles.
CTIA has commissioned WMC Global to screen all short code leaseholders. This involves reviewing all applications submitted to the Short Code Registry to verify that the Content Provider is correctly identified and represents a legitimate company. This process ensures that best efforts are taken to protect consumers from unwanted text messages. The information reviewed includes company name, FEIN number, corporate registration and legal history. The overwhelming majority of applicants complete the vetting process successfully. Campaign information will be reviewed annually to ensure that it remains in compliance.
The overwhelming majority of applicants complete the vetting process successfully. Wireless service providers determine individually if applicants do not meet minimum requirements and notify them accordingly. If you have concerns regarding your vetting status, please contact email@example.com. Make sure to include the short code, company name and state of registration. You should receive a reply within two business days.
In the rare case that an application is denied, WMC Global will share those results with CTIA. Someone from CTIA will contact the applicant with further information or follow-up questions.
Short codes are assigned to approved applicants on a first-come, first-served basis. If someone is already leasing a code you want, you will need to select another code. You can select to be notified when a particular code becomes available by choosing the Notify Me button on the Find a Code page. When it does become available, it will be leased again to the first approved applicant.
While each application is limited to 20 codes, you can submit more than one application.
No. Short codes currently work only in the U.S. To lease codes in Canada visit the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA).
Partner types include application providers and aggregators.
Application Providers are those companies that lease codes on behalf of their customers and facilitate messaging via the Short Code program.
Aggregators are a subset of Application Providers that also maintain and provide verifiable agreement and an established and operational direct SMPP connection with at least one Tier 1 service provider that is capable of delivering traffic for any short code.
Lessees that lease codes strictly for their own usage are not part of the Partner Program.
To be at the Premier Level, a company must have an active account in good standing for at least two years, have a minimum of 50 codes under management and have a monthly average spend of $32,500. In addition, all partners must have no material violations in the past 12 months.
To be at the Preferred Level, a company must have an active account in good standing for at least two years, have a minimum of 10 codes under management and have a monthly average spend of $6,500. In addition, all partners must have no material violations in the past 12 months.
To be at the Select Level, a company must have an active account in good standing for at least one year, have a minimum of five codes under management and have a monthly average spend of $3,250. In addition, all partners must have no material violations in the past 12 months.
To be listed as an authorized aggregator, a company must have:
- Carrier verifed agreement and established/operational direct SMPP connection with at least one Tier 1 Carrier that is capable of delivering traffic for any common short code;
- Enterprise messaging volume capability for short code traffic ( > 30 message / second);
- SMS/MMS capability for short code traffic; and
- 24/7/365 customer service
For a Select short code—one you choose yourself—the lease rate is $1,000 per month. For a Random code—one assigned to you by the system—the lease rate is $500 per month. Codes may be leased for periods of three, six, or 12 months, and the entire lease payment is due before the code can be activated. Fees are non-refundable.
Credit card (Mastercard, Visa, American Express or Discover), electronic funds transfer (EFT) or check are all acceptable forms of payment. When paying with a credit card, please use the credit card billing address on file with the credit card company. Unapplied funds picked up through a credit or overpayment for a prior lease can also be used.
Yes. The Short Code Registry website will not store credit card information. Instead, it uses an outside credit card processing company that is PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) certified. Our secure server encrypts all submitted information.
In addition to the cost of leasing the short code, there may be additional campaign set up fees that application providers and service providers charge. There is also messaging delivery fees. Aggregator and application provider partners can provide specific information based on your specific campaign details.