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How to Lease a Short Code 101

Short codes are unique, memorable, 5 or 6-digit phone numbers utilized by many text marketers. We'll explain how and why you may want to invest in one.

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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 toll-free number to start. 

However, many marketers want to use a number that’s shorter and easier to remember. 

For example, 711711.

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

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

What Is a Short Code?

Short codes are leased from the Common Short Code Administration (CSCA) who maintain a master database of available, reserved, and registered short codes. 

To lease your own dedicated code can run your business anywhere from $500-$1000 a month. 

Provisioning a dedicated short code for your business can get expensive. Which is why, in the past, shared short codes were available for different industries to use communally. 

But mobile carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint have since prohibited the use of shared short codes citing concerns around spam.

In October 2018, AT&T shared a new version of its A2P Code of Conduct. In it, they announced that no new shared short codes will be activated and existing ones will be terminated at a future date. It’s believed that other carriers will likely follow suit.

So, depending on your use case and budget, you may not be able to use a short code. In that case, we have other number options available.

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 have a specific keyword essential to your business and you want to guarantee you’ll have access to it
  • You want to ensure you can brand your number is 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, as quickly as possible

If you have the budget and would prefer the full creative control over your brand, dedicated short codes may be a worthwhile investment. If you’d like to move forward, you’ll want to follow the three steps outlined below. 

How Do I Lease a Short Code?

The good news is you don’t have to navigate this process on your own. Our team can walk you through each step and even facilitate the communications between your business and the Short Code Registry to secure the code.

If you are a SimpleTexting customer or would like to become one, we’ll connect your short code to our platform at no extra charge. We’ll also guide you step-by-step through the provisioning process. We never markup the price of a short code.

However, if you’re just curious about the process or would prefer to manage it yourself, here are the three simple steps you’ll take for short code leasing.

Choose Your Code

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

A non-vanity code is a 5-6 digit number selected for you by a short code registry. They cost $500/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 it’s chosen by you, subject to availability of course! This option would run you $1,000/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”-74992.

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 fear, we’ve helped countless customers through the process 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. 


Upon approval, the last step is to have your short code provisioned. This process is again fairly complex and requires an SMS aggregator to connect your code. 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, you’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 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 launched and 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.

If you have more questions on what type of number best suits your text-marketing needs, check out this guide to choosing the right number.

Want to learn a little more about short code leasing from one of our teammates? Click the blue chat button in the corner of your screen to start the conversation!

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