What is 10DLC? Here's What Every Business Should Know

Understand 10DLC and its impact on business texting. We provide essential insights into 10DLC, what it is, why it matters, and how you can adapt.

What is 10DLC?

Most North Americans use ten-digit-long phone numbers. Also called local area numbers, they are the identifier for almost everyone texting and calling. A 10DLC number has a three-digit local area code, a three-digit prefix, and a four-digit line number. Almost everyone has their own 10DLC number.

While most people don’t use the term 10DLC to describe their numbers, it is used by A2P platforms, SMS-leveraging companies, and cell phone carriers to distinguish local numbers from toll-free and short codes.

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Differences Between 10DLC, Toll-Free Numbers, and Short Codes

In addition to 10DLC numbers, there are two other types of phone numbers: toll-free numbers and short codes. Both are well-suited for SMS marketing campaigns.

Short Code: These perfectly titled numbers are five or six digits long. They are dedicated to texting only. Unlike 10DLC numbers that only send one text message a minute, short codes can send hundreds of text messages every minute. They’re well-suited for enterprises and organizations conducting more substantial campaigns. Short codes are significantly more expensive than 10DLC numbers and take weeks to verify. Some companies even share short codes to cut costs.

Toll-Free: These numbers are designed to accept phone calls from customers as well as send and receive texts. Toll-free numbers have ten digits but are differentiated by their area code: 888, 800, 877, 855, 866, 844, or 833. They don’t cost callers money, which incentives them to call in. Toll-free numbers can send dozens of texts per second. Toll-free numbers cost less than short codes but take roughly the same amount of time to be verified – 4-6 weeks.

History of 10DLC

For many years, businesses weren’t authorized to use ten-digit phone numbers. Only short codes could be used to send text messages. The advent of messaging apps in 2008 attracted not just texters’ attention but businesses’ as well. Many unauthorized companies started sending SMS messages, some of which were unwanted at best and spam at worst.

Application-to-person (A2P) SMS platforms were developed, allowing businesses to text bulk SMS messages. Some bad actors used these powerful platforms to send a plethora of harmful content. While the Cellular Telephone Industries Association (CTIA) addressed 10DLC best practices and guidelines, they did not acknowledge or authorize A2P platforms until 2017. Cell carriers started implementing and enforcing various measures and rules to get the spam out of SMS, protecting customers from spam and themselves from legal liability.

Cell carriers have since developed the infrastructure and regulations that allow for relatively spam-free A2P 10DLC communication, such as the creation of The Campaign Registry. The many rules surrounding 10DLC may be frustrating for newcomers, but they make SMS a better experience for everyone.

What is 10DLC Here’s What Every Business Should Know

The Campaign Registry and the SMS Network

Every business in North America that wants to start an SMS campaign using 10DLC must be verified with The Campaign Registry (TCR). This organization is a joint operation by cell carriers like T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T. It does an admirable job verifying and registering local numbers. In fact, the registration process only takes 3-5 days. TCR only works with 10DLC, not toll-free numbers or short codes.

However, TCR is only a small part of the entire A2P 10DLC process. It’s just one link in a chain. Step by step, here’s what happens.

  1. An organization wants to send promotional texts to its SMS subscribers. They fill out an application for a campaign using our easy-to-use website (or another A2P platform).
  2. It goes to TCR. One of the humans-on-staff reviews the application to ensure it meets their requirements for 10DLC registration.
  3. If approved, the organization’s texts go to an SMS aggregator. These aggregators have relationships with the hundreds of phone carriers, big and small.
  4. The aggregator sends the organization’s text messages to the carriers. Through the magic of modern wireless technology, they send the SMS messages to their customers.
  5. Finally, the organization’s subscribers receive texts in their inboxes.

This complex sequence of events is necessary for the health of the SMS ecosystem.

What is 10DLC Here’s What Every Business Should Know

What is 10DLC Compliance?

Any 10DLC number must comply with the many regulations and rules set by The Campaign Registry. A little preparation goes a long way when ensuring successful campaign registration. Here’s what the process involves and what A2P 10DLC users need to do.

Importance of Consent in the Registration Process

People don’t want spam texts. This is the guiding philosophy of The Campaign Registry, wireless carriers, and other organizations that regulate A2P messaging. They enforce many rules to ensure text messaging is spam-free and wanted. Accurate opt-ins, straightforward language, and security measures guarantee that every SMS subscriber meant to subscribe.

Going forward, consider how you use SMS text messaging, what kind of texts you like to receive, and why you subscribe to get texts from some businesses.

What is 10DLC Here’s What Every Business Should Know

Compliance Requirements

Any brand using A2P 10DLC marketing must meet some requirements. 10DLC SMS campaigns must follow the following guidelines.

  • Have opt-ins (and proof of opt-ins) showing that the subscriber knows what they’re getting. We’ll talk more about these in the following section. Alternatively, read our blogs on opt-ins.
  • Offer subscribers an easy way to stop receiving texts.
  • Follow CTIA best practices.
  • Pass the 10DLC registration process by The Campaign Registry, including the payment of a small fee.
  • Not contain age-restricted or SHAFT content (sexual, hate, alcohol, firearms, or tobacco).

The requirements for 10DLC registration may seem daunting, but they can be surmounted with proper strategy.

Violations and Consequences

Most A2P 10DLC platforms simply won’t allow text messaging without complete registration with The Campaign Registry. Businesses that circumvent the rules by sending messages directly or through unscrupulous A2P 10DLC platforms can find themselves fined or blocked.

  • SMS Without Opt-Ins: Conducting SMS campaigns without obtaining opt-ins results in fines between $500-1500 per infraction. This includes texts asking for opt-ins, which are illegal (not including double opt-ins). Some companies have even lost millions by text messaging customers without opt-ins.
  • Sending SHAFT Content: Sending age-restricted content can garner up to $10,000 per violation.
  • Messaging Program Evasion: Using filtering evasion techniques, such as using multiple numbers to send the same messages, results in a $10 per violation fine.
  • Grey Routing: Skirting fees by sending messages through a legal channel, then using illegal channels (especially person-to-person channels) to avoid fees. Most users of grey routing try to avoid international A2P fees when sending text messages to another country.

Compliance is important, especially when regarding business messaging.

What is 10DLC Here’s What Every Business Should Know


It’s quite a feat to have developed the SMS ecosystem we have today, especially compared to email and phone calls. The high open rates, fast read times, and positive opinion that most people have of text messaging can be attributed to the widespread regulation and enforcement of opt-ins. For any 10DLC-compliant A2P messaging to take place, organizations must have opt-ins.

We have a more in-depth 10DLC opt-in guide and an opt-in strategy guide, both well-suited for helping anyone start to create marketing messages. Still, we’ll briefly overview opt-ins because they’re essential for compliance.

What Are Opt-Ins?

Opt-ins are essentially recorded agreements by subscribers to receive text messages. They must possess a variety of qualities to be 10DLC compliant. Remember that these rules are meant to make texting healthier for everyone.

  • Clear and Concise Language: Opt-ins must inform subscribers what they are receiving texts, such as promotions, appointment reminders, or shipping confirmations.
  • Opt-Outs: There must be an easy and accessible way to stop receiving messages. Most implement a “STOP” keyword. Businesses must honor any attempts to opt-out, even via email or phone call.
  • Written-Down: Except for interactive phone calls, opt-ins can’t be verbal. However, a business can ask a customer to text a keyword to a phone number.
  • Archivable: The Campaign Registry must be able to audit an organization’s opt-ins. Most organizations store opt-ins on a spreadsheet accessible through Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.

There is much more to opt-ins, but these rules are among the most basic. Learn more by reading our blog.

What is 10DLC Here’s What Every Business Should Know

Master 10DLC Compliance and The Campaign Registry with Sakari

Elevate SMS with 10-digit long code business texting from Sakari. Our powerful A2P bulk texting platform allows any organization to send SMS to subscribers while meeting the approval process. From two-way messaging to MMS messaging everything is possible through our cost-effective, easy-to-use, and highly efficient texting service. We also provide a diverse array of educational material to ensure that every user can leverage the power of A2P messaging.

Want to learn more? Book a demo to be guided through our platform with an expert.

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