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How to lease a short code 101

Short codes are unique, memorable, 5 or 6-digit phone numbers that are used for business texting and SMS marketing. We'll explain why and how you may want to lease a short code.

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There are a variety of numbers you can use for your SMS marketing efforts. At SimpleTexting we set up every account with a local number to start, but you can select other numbers types once you upgrade to a paid plan.

Some marketers want to use a number that’s shorter and easier to remember, like 711711.

These are known as short codes, and the one above belongs to the convenience store chain 7-Eleven.

So, why might your business go about leasing one and how? We’ll share everything you need to know in the article below. 

Why lease a short code?

If any of the following reasons are crucial to your text marketing efforts, you may want to consider leasing a short code:

  • You want to ensure you can brand your number in a specific way (e.g. For example, Kmart’s short code is 56278, which spells “KMART”).
  • You are an enterprise-level business that will need to send tens of thousands of texts at once.

If you have the budget and would prefer the full creative control over your brand, dedicated short codes may be a worthwhile investment.

Keep reading to learn about the process for leasing your own short code.

How to get a short code

The CTIA leases SMS short codes through its Common Short Code Administration, which maintains the Short Code Registry — a database of available, reserved, and registered short codes. 

📌 How much does it cost to lease a short code?

To lease your own dedicated short code, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,000-$1,500 a month. 

If you are a SimpleTexting customer or would like to become one, we’ll connect your short code for a one-time setup fee of $2,500. We’ll also guide you step-by-step through the provisioning process. We never mark up the monthly price of a short code.

If you’re just curious about the process of leasing a short code, here are the three simple steps our support team will walk you through.

1. Choose your short code

You can choose between two types of codes to lease—vanity and non-vanity.

A non-vanity code is a 5- or 6-digit number selected for you by a short code registry. They cost $1,000/month to lease, and it will look like a random generation of numbers. For example: 346712, 28491, or 729451.

A vanity code is still a 5-6 digit number, but you choose it (subject to availability). This option would run you $1,500/month, but you have the advantage of selecting more uniform or memorable combinations that make it easier for customers to text in. You could even customize your code to say something specific. For example, your code could spell out “PIZZA” with the numbers 74992 on a phone keypad.

iPhone keypad that has letters beneath each number

2. Submit an application

Once you’ve decided on a code, you’ll need to submit an official short code application.

This application is long and thorough. Wireless carriers require you to disclose everything about who you are and how you plan to use the code.

Not to worry, though. We’ve helped countless customers through the process to register their dedicated short codes and are here to help you successfully complete your application as well.

If your application is denied, you have the opportunity to re-submit based on the feedback you receive. 

3. Provision your short code

Upon approval, the last step is to have your short code provisioned. This process is fairly complex and requires an SMS aggregator to connect your code, but we’ll take care of this step for you.

In other words, we create a bridge between you and all the wireless carriers. 

Once connected with an aggregator, we’ll submit another application together. This joint application spells out how you plan to advertise your short code, as well as what messages you plan to send to subscribers. 

You’ll also need to provide your plan for compliance, which assures that you’ll follow all text marketing laws.

When you receive final approval from every carrier, they’ll turn on messaging capabilities for your code. Once each carrier has completed the process, you’re officially able to send texts.

💡 SimpleTexting Tip: By the last stage in the provisioning process, you will need a text marketing provider to assist you. We suggest involving us as early as you can in the process to reduce your workload and better your chances of your application being approved the first time around.

Want to learn a little more about short code leasing from one of our team members? Click the blue chat button in the corner of your screen to start the conversation. If you already have a short code, start your free 14-day trial of SimpleTexting to see how easy it is to send texts.

Meghan Tocci
Meghan Tocci

Meghan Tocci is a content strategist at SimpleTexting. When she’s not writing about SaaS, she’s trying to teach her puppy Lou how to code. So far, not so good.

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