What Is 10DLC? 10-Digit Long Code Benefits, Uses & More

Learn more about what 10DLC is and what businesses are considered a good fit for its use

Mara Miller
Director of Marketing
what is 10DLC graphic
Table of Contents
Table of Contents

When it comes to sending timely messages and reaching your customers, the choice you make—and the numbers you use to reach people—can impact your brand, reputation, and campaign success.

For certain organizations—particularly small businesses—a 10DLC (10-digit long code) can provide them with:

  • The ability to send text messages to consumers with approved content (i.e. less likely to be flagged by wireless carriers as spam)
  • A way to track SMS campaign performance and ROI

What Is 10DLC?

A 10-digit long code (10DLC) is a way for organizations to use a dedicated number to send A2P (application-to-person) messages to their consumers that’s sanctioned by the U.S. wireless carriers. A 10DLC looks like a standard phone number, and it appears that way to the recipient when they receive an SMS message. 

Long codes are not new to the market, but up until recently these 2-way long codes were never registered or approved by the carriers. They were run on peer-to-peer routes, so texts were being sent the same way messages are sent from you to your friend. This gave the carriers no visibility into what businesses were sending. 

The carriers and The Campaign Registry have since put up guardrails and compliance around long code messaging, which brought us the fancy acronym 10DLC.

How Does 10DLC Work?

Using a 10DLC to send a text message is more complex than simply picking up your phone and sending an SMS using a long-code number. Registration and approval are required prior to being allowed to send messages. Here’s how this process works:

  1. Create an account with The Campaign Registry
  2. Register the Brand, campaign use case (i.e. marketing vs. transactional-based messages), and associated long code(s)
  3. Provide your SMS aggregator with the registered Brand ID, Campaign ID, and associated long code(s)
  4. Aggregators submit the request to the regulator (The Campaign Registry) to review and approve, and then notify the brand when the technical setup has been completed

While this process is like the highly regulated approval process for U.S. short codes, to ensure messages get delivered and don’t get blocked it is better for companies to use a registered long code.

What Are the Benefits of 10DLC?

In the right situations, a 10-digit long code has many advantages to offer organizations that want to send A2P SMS messages or notifications, whether they’re one-time or recurring texts.

It’s a more cost-effective way to connect.

Compared to short codes, a 10-digit long code can be a cost-efficient choice for companies that want to send SMS messages to their audiences. It costs less per month than a short code while achieving the same outcome: reaching the right people at the right time via text message. 

It can streamline your marketing campaigns.

Because 10-digit long codes allow you to enable voice, SMS, and MMS all on the same number (i.e. you can use the same number to text consumers that you would use to call them), they create a more seamless customer experience across your communication platforms. 

This can also help consumers identify who the messages are coming from and learn to recognize your number, making the communication feel more personal. To further improve response and engagement, many organizations choose to use a local 10DLC. It’s also possible to convert your existing VoIP landline number to a 10DLC.

It improves message deliverability.

Compared to regular long codes, because 10DLCs are approved by the carriers before they’re used the text messages sent on these 10DLCs are much more likely to reach recipients without being terminated or flagged as spam first. 

What Are the Limitations of 10DLC?

While 10DLC works well in certain situations and for certain types of companies, it isn’t the answer to every mobile messaging need. Compared with other options, it has some limitations that are important to understand.

Slower delivery speed.

Compared to SMS short codes, this means that 10DLCs come with less reliability and slower speed. If you’re a business with a sizeable, growing volume of SMS subscribers then a 10DLC may not be the best option. 

Looks like a regular phone number.

Because it looks like a normal 10-digit phone number with an area code indicating a specific geographic location, consumers may confuse a 10DLC with a personal number.

Long messages are not supported.

When sending a text using 10DLC, brevity is necessary. If you send more than 160 characters in a message then the text will arrive as two separate messages on the consumer’s mobile device (or more, depending on how many characters are used).

Who Should Use 10DLC’s? 

There are many mobile messaging approaches that organizations can use to reach their intended audiences on their devices. Is a 10DLC a good fit for you? The answer depends on business goals, timeline, and budget.

Since 10DLCs are more cost effective but also have limited reliability and speed, most companies using this type of sender ID are smaller brick and mortar stores and businesses that:

  • Send automated confirmation messages, updates, alerts, two-factor authentication verification, or follow-up texts
  • Are messaging a relatively low number or targeted group of customers
  • Fall in the middle ground between short codes and toll-free numbers when it comes to message volume and budget

10DLC FAQs: What You Need to Know

Here are helpful answers to some of those most commonly asked questions about using a 10DLC for a business.

Who needs to register for a 10DLC?

If your organization decides to send messages to U.S. consumers using a 10DLC then you must register it first and submit it to the carriers along with the types of messages you will be sending.

By registering your brand and campaigns with the carriers your messages will be sent on carrier-approved routes similar to the security standards of short codes. Because 10DLC is sanctioned by the U.S. carriers there will be no blocking of messages (unless the messages being sent have not been approved).

What happens if I don’t register a 10DLC?

If you send messages using a long code without registering it your messages will likely be filtered as spam and won’t be delivered. 

It’s also possible that, in the future, the carriers will start blocking all unregistered messaging being sent on unapproved routes. 

How do I get a 10DLC number?

If you have a VoIP business line, you may be able to convert it to a 10DLC number. Otherwise, you can acquire a new one through a 10DLC aggregator. Either way, you must start by registering your brand and campaign with The Campaign Registry.

What is the difference between 10DLC and short codes?

Short codes are five- or six-digit numbers used for SMS and MMS messaging, allowing brands to have two-way text message communication with their consumers via a recognizable sender ID that arrives on the consumer’s handset. Short codes are the gold standard for brand recognition and reliability. 

A 10DLC is a 10-digit number that can be used for SMS messages as well as voice calls. Since 10DLCs are more cost effective but have many more limits when it comes to scale, reliability and speed, most companies using this type of sender ID are smaller brick and mortar stores and businesses. You will often find that dental practices, eye care practices, salons, and local pizza shops opt for long codes.

What is the difference between 10DLC and toll-free numbers?

Toll-free numbers are text-enabled 8XX numbers that allow text messaging over: 800, 833, 888, 877, 866, 855, and 844. This includes being able to text enable an 800 number for U.S. and Canadian mobile numbers.

Like 10DLCs, toll-free numbers are a more cost-effective option where reliability and speed lag. 

How to Get Started With 10DLC

If 10DLC is right for your business the right partner can help ensure your 10DLC campaigns are compliant, engaging, and successful. Connect with Vibes today to learn more about what sender ID type makes the most sense for your business and your ideal uses for SMS messaging.

10DLC: The Bottom Line

10DLC can be a good fit for certain companies, and it’s important to assess factors like message volume, message type and budget to make sure you choose what is best for your business.

By being one of only four Tier 1 aggregators in the United States, Vibes can rapidly scale to help you meet increased message volumes and greater throughput, ensuring ample, reliable capacity and speed of messaging on all codes no matter what.

Contact us to learn more about SMS aggregation services and what the best path forward is for your business.

Mara Miller
Director of Marketing
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