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The Guide to SMS Short Codes in Canada

Learn the latest on short code updates in Canada as well as what your options look like beyond them.

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If you’re one of the millions of Canadians who have received an email from Shoppers Drug Mart, you’ve probably seen an ad like this before:

That number that is circled in the middle is what we call a short code. Short codes are five or six-digit phone numbers, like the 736-898 above, that customers can text to sign up for SMS updates. 

They’re a unique, simple, and memorable way to get customers to join your text program. But there’s a catch. 

Provisioning a dedicated short code for your business can get expensive, but they have their upsides, too.

Let’s look at some of the important details surrounding Canadian short codes.

The Difference Between Canadian Long and Short Codes

Text marketing requires a phone number. At SimpleTexting, we can text-enable almost any number for you. The number will fall into either the category of long, or short codes. 

Canadian Long Codes

Long codes are the traditional 10-digit phone numbers you’re used to. With a long code, your company can use the same number to send SMS messages and place calls. This familiarity helps your message feel like it’s coming from a person, not a bot. That makes long codes perfect for providing a personalized customer service experience.

Canadian Short Codes

As we mentioned earlier, short codes are 5-6 digits long. In order to use a short code in Canada you must provision, or lease it. 

Common uses for short codes include:

Types of Short Codes Available in Canada 

In order to keep your messages sending smoothly and on time, you’ll want to choose one of the following phone options.

Dedicated Short Codes

Dedicated short codes belong to your business only. They deliver mass messages the fastest. 

Dedicated short codes come in two forms. They can be vanity short codes, which are special because they spell out a certain word or claim a particular number combo. For example, 7-Eleven’s vanity short code is 711711. 

You can also select a random short code, like 867530. Unlike long codes, dedicated short codes can take several weeks to provision.

All short codes must be leased from the Common Short Code Administration. At SimpleTexting, we help our clients through the entire leasing process and host the short code on our platform. The leasing cost for a short code are as follows:

Leasing & Hosting FeeSet Up Cost*
$1000-$1500 / month$2,500 (one-time payment)

*See our rates here. Our enterprise team can also create a custom plan if you plan on sending a high volume of messages.

Toll-Free Numbers

Toll-free numbers are easy to obtain, and their mass messaging abilities are comparable to short codes. The only potential drawback is that they’re 10 digits long, which leaves less room for memorable customization. Toll-free numbers will need to be verified.


Your customers may already be familiar with your phone number. They may even have it saved in their contacts! SimpleTexting can text-enable your landline phone number without interrupting your voice service. If you decide to move forward with this option, we highly recommend you choose a 10-digit long code, which we explain below. 


10DLC, or 10-digit long code (also known as a local number) is a messaging solution that allows businesses to send a high-volume of SMS from an area code local to your business. Before 10DLC, 10-digit numbers were only sanctioned for P2P (person-to-person) messaging.

Now, businesses can access a much higher throughput rate. In other words, more messages per minute can be sent on a local number than on traditional 10-digit numbers, but without the risk of spam that shared short codes presented. Local numbers are far more affordable than a dedicated short code.

While Canada has yet to get the green light to operate 10DLC across the country, you can learn more about this solution, inquire about testing, learn about registration requirements, and get updates all on our 10DLC info page

Closing Thoughts on Canadian Short Codes

If, after reviewing your options, a short code seems like the right choice for you, there are a few final things you should note. 

  • Canadian short codes can only text numbers in Canada. If you want to text customers in the U.S., you’ll need a seperate short code.
  • Provisioning a short code requires an application, which can be tricky to navigate on your own. When you work with our team, you’ll have an expert by your side every step of the way. We’ll work directly with the carriers to get you up and running as soon as possible.

Have any questions about Canadian SMS or want to learn more about next steps in the process? Click on the blue chat button on the side of your screen to connect with a member of our team, and be sure to sign up for your free 14-day trial

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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