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North American Short Codes - Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Short Code?

Short Code (also called Common Short Code - CSC) is a special 5-6 digit number which is used for any "machine" to person and person to "machine" text messaging in USA and Canada. These numbers are used as a way to enable fair use of mobile messaging to the benefit of consumers and companies offering products and services to wireless subscribers through mobile messages.

When do I Need a Short Code?

A CSC is required to run mobile messaging services. In other words, CSC is used as an originator of all mobile messages associated with a specific mobile service/campaign. .

Who manages/issues Short Codes?

CSC are issued and managed on behalf of all mobile carriers in a country by a central issuing registrar. Wireless carriers in respective countries chose these organizations to administer applications and issuance of CSC.

How do Short Codes look?


Short Codes

  • 5 Digits
    • 10000 to 39999
    • 50000 to 99999
  • 6 Digits
    • 100000 to 399999
    • 500000 to 999999

Long Codes

  • 8 Digits
    • 30000001 to 30000999


  • 5 Digits
    • 20000 to 99999

What Types of Short Codes exist in the USA?

There are two types - Random and Vanity. The only difference is that vanity short codes are requested by the applicant. Random are simply assigned to the applicant.

What Types of Short Codes exist in Canada?

There are two types - Short code and Long code. The difference is that long codes are 8-digit codes assigned in sequential order.

How Much Does it Cost Monthly?


  • Common Short code: $500CAD for first 3 months. $350CAD in month 4 to end of 1st year.
  • Common Long code: $500CAD for first 3 months. $250CAD in month 4 to end of 1st year.
*Cdn Short code programs are assigned for a maximum of 1 year. Prior to the 1 year expiration, you can re-apply for the same code.


  • Random: $500USD
  • Vanity: $1,000USD

How Do I Apply for a Short Code?

You can apply directly with the issuing authority.

Alternatively, Upside can work with you to complete and manage your application. When you apply you will need to submit a "brief" outlining details about your intent, price, opt-in/opt-out processes, estimated volume and many other details.

How long does it take to have application approved?

In most cases it takes 6-10 weeks. Upside recommends that application be made at your earliest convenience.

I got my Short Code - what now?

Once you get a short code you need:

  1. Telecom grade infrastructure and connectivity to all wireless networks in the country in which you plan to run your campaign.
  2. Management software that will automate opt-in/opt-out and all other messaging processes.
  3. Content such as logos, ringtones, mobile games or interactive scripts - depending on your offering.
  4. Marketing and promotion of your campaign so that you can maximize its benefit to you.

If you partner with Upside we can provide you with a turn key solution for items 1, 2 and 3. We even have some licensed content that you can offer in your campaigns. We can also work with you to define business and marketing strategy so that you can maximize benefits of your campaigns.

I want to run a Premium SMS campaign. How much can I earn?

This depends on the product and service you will be offering and your target demographic. Upside can work with you to help you define optimal prices. When you sell your produce or service a telecom operator of the consumer will collect money on your behalf. Part of this revenue is payable to you, usually 45-60 days after the sale date.

Out payments

The out payment rate is the rate the carrier pays back to the customer based on the number of messages sent to end-users per carrier and per month. Out payment rates differ per carrier and monthly volume. These rates may change at their discretion and are not fixed.

Can share or borrow someone else's Short Code?

Short codes are issued for a specific campaign and each user MUST subscribe to each campaign separately.

Can I market to any existing contacts databases I have?

No. Each person must explicitly and verifiably opt in for EACH campaign using his or her mobile phone. This sometimes means that to use an existing database for the purposes of marketing via SMS you need to contact everyone on the database first and ask them for their consent. This may not apply to a database of existing customers, but you should still be careful about using your database for that purpose. Do not just assume that you can send marketing messages via SMS to everyone on your existing database. Check first.

Where can I learn more?