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What is a 10DLC number and how to get one

Alia Paavola
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Text messaging has become a communication game-changer for businesses. But, as this messaging channel grows in popularity, so do user protections. One of the positive protections in business texting was the introduction of the 10DLC.

Though this commercial number type didn’t always exist, experts predict it will become the norm for business text messaging. So what exactly is 10DLC, how can businesses use it, what are the 10DLC registration requirements, and what are its pros and cons?

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<h2 id="What">What is 10DLC?</h2>

10DLC stands for a 10-digit long code. It’s a particular phone number businesses use to send bulk SMS or MMS. 10DLC numbers were created to support application-to-person messaging (A2P), which enables businesses to text from internet-connected devices.

To use 10DLCs, companies must register and comply with regulations like the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). 10DLC is governed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA). 

Businesses can use 10DLC for various messaging use cases, including customer communications, marketing campaigns, transactional messaging, appointment reminders, notifications, etc. More importantly, 10DLC allows for two-way messaging, enabling businesses to engage in interactive conversations with their customers, clients, and prospects.

10DLC vs. short code

Dedicated short codes are five or six-digit numbers used for bulk one-way messaging. The Common Short Code Administration (CSCA) issues the phone number type.

Below is a brief overview of the differences between a 10DLC and short code.

  • Cost: Short codes are more expensive to obtain than a 10DLC – they can cost up to $1,000 a month.
  • Registration process: Short code registration is far more extensive and lengthy than 10DLC registration. 
  • Unsupported functions: Short codes don’t support voice calls, conversational two-way messaging, or group messaging.
  • ‍Throughput and scalability: Short codes have the highest message throughput of all number types. 
  • Use cases and applications: Short codes are typically reserved for one-way SMS use cases like 2FA, large SMS marketing campaigns, and emergency notifications. 10DLC numbers can be used for a broader range of messaging applications because they support two-way messaging and a high message throughput.

10DLC vs. toll-free number

Toll-free numbers, which have 1-800 prefixes, can also be used for text messaging. 10DLC and toll-free numbers have similar use cases and functions. The key difference between a 10DLC and a toll-free number is the area code and registration requirements. Here’s a brief comparison between 10DLC and toll-free numbers.

  • Cost: Toll-free numbers currently are the least expensive option for SMS. They don't require registration, campaign or vetting fees.

  • Registration process: Toll-free numbers register with Twilio. There’s not yet a registration fee. 10DLC numbers register with a third party created by mobile carriers called the Campaign Registry. Both take around two weeks.

  • Not supported functions: Toll-free numbers don’t support true group messaging.

  • Throughput and scalability: Registered toll-free and 10DLC numbers both support high-volume messaging. There’s no significant difference so long as your number is registered correctly.

  • Use cases and applications: Toll-free and 10DLC numbers are both commonly used for customer support, appointment reminders, sales follow-ups, logistics, and customer engagement.

  • International considerations: You must use a toll-free number if you’re a Canadian business or want to message Canadian customers. For businesses seeking to text other international countries, a 10DLC is the best phone number choice.

Look at some main differences between the different types of phone numbers and how to choose the right one for your business. It's important to note that the best solution may be using a mix of phone number types to reach your contacts.

A chart comparing 10DLC vs. toll-free vs. short code.

<h2 id="Benefits">Benefits of having 10DLC for your business</h2>

Here are some advantages to using a registered 10DLC for your business texting needs.

  • Familiarity to recipients. Typical 10-digit phone numbers are familiar to customers as they use and see them daily. Moreover, you can choose an area code or text-enable your existing voice-only number. This can result in higher open rates and better engagement.
  • Improved deliverability and throughput. Registered 10DLC numbers are designed for high message throughput, resulting in fast and reliable message delivery. This helps ensure that your messages reach your intended recipients promptly.
  • Cost-effective solution. 10DLC numbers are more accessible and cost-effective than short codes, making them a budget-friendly option for SMS and MMS messaging campaigns.
  • Leverage existing voice numbers. You can often text-enable your existing voice-only number like a landline, VoIP, or toll-free number for A2P messaging. This is helpful if you have a business number customers already know.
  • Scalable solution. 10DLC numbers offer scalability for businesses of all sizes, from small to large enterprises, allowing messaging campaigns to be tailored to specific business needs and goals.

  • International messaging. 10DLC long-code numbers can support some international messaging needs. Texts from 10DLCs can be sent to most international numbers.

<h2 id="Limitations">Limitations of 10DLC</h2>

Here are some drawbacks of using a 10DLC for your business.

  • Verification delays. Regulators implemented new registration and vetting requirements for 10DLCs. To use a 10DLC, businesses must first register and get approved by The Campaign Registry. No texting can be done with customers on the 10DLC number until approved. The process can take up to two weeks.

  • Carrier message filtering and blocking. Many mobile carriers implemented spam filtering to protect customers. As a result, they can filter or block messages they deem objectionable. When carriers block a message, they don’t provide additional information about why it was flagged.

<h2 id="Uses">10DLC use cases</h2>

Businesses can use a registered 10DLC number in many ways. Here are a few use cases to consider.

  • Appointment reminders. Send customers reminders about upcoming appointments, meetings, bookings, etc.
  • Payment reminders. Use a 10DLC text to remind customers about upcoming or unpaid bills.
  • Event reminders. Boost attendance at conferences, webinars, or other events with a quick text.

  • Promotional messages. Send SMS marketing messages to customers or leads. This could include sharing exclusive discounts, product launch alerts, or abandoned cart reminders.
  • Real-time alerts. Send your contacts need-to-know information like emergency alerts, last-minute service cancelations, or flight delays.
  • Customer support. Use a 10DLC to give your customer support desk a boost. Text back and forth with customers to resolve issues and answer questions quickly.
  • Customer feedback. Send a survey to customers via SMS or just ask about a recent experience. 10DLCs support two-way conversations, which makes getting actionable feedback easy.
  • Internal communication. Use 10DLC messaging to communicate with employees in the field or send memos.
  • Sales follow-up. Use your local 10DLC to follow up with leads after they request more information or use it to share a requested quote.
  • Recruitment. Use text messaging to improve the hiring process, from candidate sourcing to interview scheduling.
  • Request donations. Use text messaging to reach your nonprofit’s fundraising goals. 
  • Order updates. Share updates with customers about their purchases. This can include order confirmations, expected delivery timelines, and more.

Discover more: 21 SMS marketing campaign ideas

<h2 id="Who">Who should register for 10DLC?</h2>

Any business that wants to use A2P messaging must register. With the new rules implemented in early 2023, companies must register before sending text messages. The rules were implemented to reduce spam text messages.

Textline, an A2P messaging platform, recommends registering your brand and campaign as soon as possible. The approval process, which requires brand and use case vetting, can take up to two weeks. 

<h2 id="Registration">10DLC registration process</h2>

Before you can send any type of message, you must register your 10DLC with The Campaign Registry. The registry, created by mobile carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile, serves as a central database. The registry keeps track of the businesses using 10DLCs and their use cases.

Here are step-by-step instructions for A2P 10DLC registration:

Step 1: Brand registration

The first step for 10DLC registration is to share information about your company to prove it’s legitimate. You’ll need to provide items like:

  • Legal company name
  • Industry or vertical
  • Tax number or EIN
  • Address
  • Company website
  • Company size
  • Support contact information

Step 2: SMS campaign registration

The next step for A2P 10DLC registration is sharing information about your text messaging use case and how you’ll collect contact opt-ins.

Specifically, you will need to provide:

  • Use case. A general overview of what you’ll be texting.
  • Message language. The Campaign Registry wants to know if you’ll share embedded links or age-gated content on your 10DLC. These attributes typically require additional vetting.
  • Example text messages. You must provide a few sample messages that you will send contacts.
  • Opt-in information. How you’re collecting consent to text your contacts.

Step 3: Submit for 10DLC vetting

After you fill out the necessary information, submit it for 10DLC vetting and approval. The 10DLC vetting process involves The Campaign Registry reviewing your brand information and messaging use case. The goal of vetting is to protect customers and make 10DLC messaging a spam-free solution.

You'll receive a confirmation email once you’re vetted and approved by The Campaign Registry. This means you can start texting.

How long will 10DLC vetting take? It depends on several factors, including the messaging attributes, brand information, texting use case, and the volume of active submissions. 

For a full walk-through of SMS registration with photo examples, check out our SMS registration guide.

Get 10DLC registration right with Textline

A2P 10DLC text messaging opens up an effective communication channel with your customers. Let Textline help you navigate the increasingly complex registration ecosystem for 10DLCs. Textline lets your business fill out registration information in-app and submits campaigns for approval on your behalf.All in all, Textline has the expertise and industry connections to get your numbers registered and approved quickly. Choose Textline to help you pick the right number type and get set up correctly. Get started on the right foot today with a free 14-day trial.

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