A short code is a number with fewer digits than a phone number to which a text message can be sent. The five- or six-digit numbers are often promoted in traditional and digital advertising. Companies use these codes to bring customers into the branded experience through voting, surveys, sweepstakes, coupon offers, information updates, loyalty programs and alerts.
A short code must be either five digits or six digits. Five-digit codes range from 20000 to 99999. Six-digit codes range from 200000 to 999999.
You must first define, submit and obtain approval for a campaign before it can be launched with wireless service providers. 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 that into consideration when planning your campaign.
Applicants lease codes from the Short Code Registry.
1. Order your short code.
2. Define your campaign(s) by specifying how your code will engage an audience.
3. Submit your proposal.
4. The submission is vetted and approved or returned.
5. Continue to update your campaign as information changes.
You will probably need the support of various partners (e.g., content providers, application providers and/or connection aggregators) 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, corporate registration and legal history. The majority of applicants complete the vetting process successfully. Campaign information will be reviewed annually to ensure that it remains in compliance.
The majority of applicants complete the vetting process successfully, and therefore applicants are not notified of vetting status. If you need proof of approval or vetting for service provider onboarding or have concerns regarding your vetting status, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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.
Short codes are assigned to approved applicants on a first-come, first-served basis. If someone is already leasing a code you want, it’s not available now, but that can change. The code's lease may expire, or the company leasing it may terminate the lease. You can be notified when a particular code becomes available by selecting 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.
Short codes can be leased for 3, 6 or 12 months with an option for automatic renewal.
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.
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.
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 3, 6 or 12 months, and the entire lease payment is due before the code can be activated. Fees are non-refundable.
Four kinds of companies work together to bring short code campaigns to wireless subscribers: content providers, application providers, connection aggregators and wireless service providers. These key players all interface with the Short Code Registry, and our Partners Page provides an overview of specialized services provided.
A campaign is the series of steps by which the organization uses a short code to engage an audience. Campaigns begin by advertising the short code via 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 content providers, application providers and connection aggregators to work with the wireless service providers to bring mobile campaigns to life. Learn more about partners.
Wireless service providers use different terms for short code campaigns, based on how participants are charged for sending texts.
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.
A registered code is one that has made it through the application and payment processes and can now be used by the registrant.
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 1: New Year's Day
- May 31: Memorial Day
- July 5: Independence Day
- September 6: Labor Day
- November 25: Thanksgiving Holiday
- November 26: Day After Thanksgiving
- December 24: Day Before Christmas Day
- December 31: Day Before New Year's Day
For technical problems with the actual implementation and operation of your short code program, contact the wireless service provider or the partners (i.e., the content provider, connection aggregator or application provider) supporting you on your campaign. You can also contact the U.S. Short Code Customer Support Team.
The Short Code Monitoring Handbook describes best practices for messaging services. All short code programs are required to comply with a 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.
No. You must provide a valid address, but it doesn’t have to be in the U.S.
A keyword is the first word that is sent in a text message for the purpose of delineating or eliciting a specific response, for example “Go” or “Join.”
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, every 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. Almost all wireless carriers in the United States support short codes and their common use.
To be a Top Application Provider, a company must have an active account in good standing for at least one year and have a minimum of 10 codes under management.
To be a Premium Partner, a company must have an active account in good standing for at least two years and have 70 codes under management.