10DLC (10-Digit Long Codes): Everything You Need to Know

When you first sign up to an SMS API provider so you can send out mass text message campaigns, you'll need to create a sender ID. This is a unique identifier that your subscribers will see when they receive your texts. You can get one in the form of a short code, toll-free code, or 10-digit long code (10DLC). This post focuses primarily on 10DLC, exploring what it is, how it compares to other sender IDs, and how to set one up with Messente.

Related: What is a sender ID?

What is 10DLC in A2P messaging?

10DLC is a system used in the U.S. for Application to Person (A2P) text messaging. It's an abbreviation for '10-digit long code', which is a special ten-digit phone number. A2P messaging is the technology that enables businesses or brands to send out text messages en masse to hundreds, thousands, and even millions of subscribers simultaneously.

Regular phone numbers (also 10 digits in the U.S.) were originally built by the U.S. carrier community for person-to-person (P2P) text messaging. As the name suggests, this is where a person texts another person from their mobile device. Short codes, which are five or six-digit numbers, were introduced more than a decade ago for A2P messaging.

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That said, up until a couple of years ago, it was also possible for businesses to leverage P2P messaging to send a few hundred messages. However, this resulted in A2P traffic being mixed with P2P traffic, making it difficult for carrier networks to protect consumers from spam.

Around 2021-2022, major U.S. carrier networks like Verizon, T-mobile, and AT&T announced their migration to 10DLC for A2P messaging. The programme gives carriers more power in identifying reputable senders and, of course, those sending unsolicited texts. Spam texts are rife in the U.S. An average of 14.7 spam text messages were received per person per month in 2020, and 16.9 in 2021. The number has continued to rise.

For business text messaging in the U.S., 10DLC is the new SMS industry standard, leading to more trusted messaging in general.

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10DLC compared to other sender IDs

Let's explore all the different types of sender IDs for business text messaging and see how 10DLC stacks up against them.

Dedicated short codes

These five- or six-digit numbers can be used to send millions of text messages per day at a very speedy rate. Around 500 messages can be sent per second using a short code number. However, short codes can be costly, involving a leasing cost and a volume cost. Plus, short codes often involve a lengthy setup and approval process, which can typically take between eight and twelve weeks.

That said, short codes are ideal if you need to send high volumes of text messages. And once set up, the number won't go through carrier filtering, which is great news for those with concerns about deliverability.

Long codes

Long codes are standard phone numbers. Although these aren't designed (or approved) for A2P messaging, if you need to text your customers individually, e.g., for customer service texts, a long code could be your best option. But long codes only transmit approximately one message per second, so they can't really be used to message large groups of people.

Toll-free numbers

A toll-free number is a long code number that begins with a three-digit code, e.g., '800' or '888'. They're best used when you need to message customers back and forth or switch from text to voice calls like you might for customer service or sales support. Toll-free codes are a relatively affordable option and quick to set up, and you can sometimes use your existing phone number too. Toll-free numbers can also be used to send one-way alerts but aren't suitable for high-volume SMS marketing campaigns.


With 10DLC, you get the ability to send mass marketing messages (and transactional texts) without the expense associated with short codes. The messaging rate (aka message throughput) for 10DLC is currently around five to fifteen messages a second (much higher than a regular long code).

That said, if you need to send higher SMS message volumes, you'll probably be better off using a short code. A 10DLC number is ideal for sending messages such as two-factor authentication alerts, appointment or payment reminders, and order confirmations.

Deliverability is generally better with 10DLC numbers than standard long codes because, like with short codes, you'll have to go through an approval process with carriers to obtain a 10DLC number.

How to set up a 10DLC with Messente

Any businesses or brands wanting to utilise 10DLC must register with U.S. carriers to get approval. A 10DLC number can only be used by a single sender for a single-use campaign. This is so the carriers can identify the type of text being sent from each number.

The vetting process involves a bit of data gathering on your part. You need to submit information such as your business name, contact details, URLs, the use case for the text messages, campaign descriptions, and more. You must undergo the 10DLC registration process whether you're sending marketing or transactional texts and irrespective of how many texts you intend to send.

Here at Messente, we can register your business and use cases with the U.S. carriers to generate your 10DLC Sender ID, ready for sending out text campaigns. Reach out to us, and we will set the wheels in motion.

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10DLC demystified

To sum up, a 10DLC (10-digit long code) is a U.S.-specific, carrier-approved phone number (sender ID) generated for business text messaging and, more specifically, for A2P messaging. You might want to use a 10DLC if you don't need to send massive volumes of texts simultaneously and don't want to pay the costs associated with setting up dedicated short codes for SMS messages.

If you're actively looking to launch an SMS campaign with considerable message volume, using a 10DLC to send messages is a no-brainer. This is often far more effective than using a short code that comes with sizable costs.

Local long codes (using your local area code) are approved by mobile carriers and prevent you from sending spam-like text messages, potentially improving customer engagement, satisfaction, and trust scores.

10DLC is a low-cost option for sending out a range of transactional and promotional texts, like 2FA pin codes, appointment reminders, order and shipping confirmations, flash sale notifications, and a lot more.

Have questions not answered here? We're happy to help - get in touch.

Mārcis Jurisons
2023-05-31 00:00:00 UTC