Short Code

What Does Short Code Mean?

Short codes are special numbers that are shorter than telephone numbers and are mainly used for short message service and MMS. A short code is a shorter number to which an SMS or text message can be sent.


Short codes are widely used in automated services. They are considered the fastest and most convenient way for businesses to send and receive short message service. They are mostly used for value-added services.

Short codes are also known as short numbers.

Techopedia Explains Short Code

Short codes are most commonly used in marketing campaigns or as a simple way for customers to communicate with companies that serve them. For example, following the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, people were able to make donations to charitable causes working to rebuild the country by texting “HAITI” to the short code 90999. The donation would then appear as a charge on the donor’s phone bill.

The advantages of short codes include:

  • They’re easier to memorize than other numeric forms.
  • They’re more engaging for use in marketing campaigns.
  • They can give an accurate measure of marketing campaigns.
  • They make it easier to capture customer data.
  • They make surveys more convenient.

The disadvantages of short codes include:

  • Coverage may be limited because the short code has to be supported by users’ mobile service provider.
  • Short codes do not have voice capabilities.
  • The deployment and implementation of a short code could take considerable time and effort.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.