Understanding 10DLC (In Human Terms)

Posted on March 9, 2023

If you’re developing an application to integrate SMS or MMS into your company or client’s communication stack, there are more decisions to make than simply which messaging platform you’ll use to help facilitate that integration. The carrier-level service used to actually send the messages is another important factor to consider. One of the options at your disposal is the 10-digit long code, or 10DLC. 

What are 10DLC Numbers?

A 10DLC number is a type of phone number used for sending commercial text messages in the United States. 10DLC stands for “10-digit long code” and refers to a standard phone number that can be used to send both person-to-person and application-to-person text messages. Businesses use 10DLC numbers to communicate with their customers through text message marketing, customer support, and other messaging use cases. 10DLC numbers are versatile  but also require registration and vetting to ensure compliance with messaging regulations.

How Do 10DLC Numbers Work?

Much like other phone numbers, 10DLC numbers work by allowing businesses to send and receive SMS and MMS messages to and from customers. Traditional 10-digit phone numbers aren’t meant to send mass text messages. They can send a message to only one person at a time and limited number of messages per day. Shortcodes solved this problem, but came with expenses, conditions, and limitations that left businesses dissatisifed. 10DLC numbers are designed to bridge that gap. The process of using them works as follows:

  • Obtain a 10DLC number: A carrier or gateway provider will be able to provide businesses with a 10DLC number. The process for obtaining one is similar to that of a traditional 10-digit number. 
  • Integrate with messaging systems: Using the chosen 10DLC messaging API, developers  can easily integrate the messaging capabilities of 10DLC numbers into their company or client’s systems. 
  • Send and receive messages: Once integrated, the messaging system is now capable of sending and receiving SMS and MMS messages to and from customers. 

10DLC Versus Short Code

Although shortcodes can be used, they come with several limitations. What makes 10DLC such an attractive option for businesses? Understanding 10DLC technology and its benefits will help you better understand how they fit in with your own business goals. 

Both 10DLC and shortcodes are what are referred to as application-to-person (A2P) messaging. They’re designed to be integrated into software that can then send texts to a large number of recipients at once. The key difference, on which we’ll base our list of pros and cons, is that shortcodes are expensive to obtain, are subject to a restrictive approval process, and have some other drawbacks. 

Pros of 10DLC numbers

  • Increased flexibility: 10DLC numbers can send SMS and MMS messages right off the bat. With shortcodes, an additional one-time fee is required to access MMS capability. Unlike short codes, 10DLC numbers can also be used for voice calls, allowing all business to be conducted from one number. 
  • Cost-effectiveness: The expense of shortcodes puts them out of the reach of many businesses. Even those businesses that can afford the high monthly fee for a short code might not send enough messages per month to justify the cost. 
  • Increased reach: When sending SMS messages through shortcodes, your recipient list is limited to people who live within your own country. 10DLC doesn’t have this restriction and can facilitate worldwide messaging.
  • Faster setup: Shortcodes require a lengthy application process. It can take a month or more for the carrier to review and approve your application. 10DLC codes don’t require special approval and can be up and running much more quickly.
  • Local number: A big advantage of 10DLC is that they have the same format as a traditional 10-digit phone number. This means you’ll be able to keep your local area code, which helps build trust and a sense of community with customers.

Cons of 10DLC numbers

  • Longer numbers: Having your messaging number be the same as your regular business number bring advantages. But it also brings the disadvantage that longer numbers are harder to remember. This can make the type of display advertising campaign that often features shortcodes less effective when long codes are used instead. 
  • Limited volume: Although 10DLC numbers allow significantly more messages to be sent per second than traditional long codes do, they still have more limits than dedicated short codes. For most businesses, this isn’t a problem, but very large entities should carefully check their requirements. 

How are 10DLC Numbers Used in Business?

So far, we’ve talked a lot about how 10DLC works, but not much about its use cases.  There are a wide variety of reasons why your company or client would choose to benefit from 10DLC. One of the major advantages of A2P messaging is that integrating them into a software stack means they become just another channel through which your software can communicate with customers. This unified communications system is already a huge benefit in and of itself. The use cases below will explain some of the common ways companies use these integrations. 

Customer service 

The best customer experience comes when customers can reach out to you using their preferred communication strategy. Not everyone is on social media, not everyone likes email, and long wait times on the phone annoy nearly everyone. Providing an additional channel for those who prefer SMS improves the customer experience. 


There are an endless number of things you may want to notify a customer about. Carriers themselves use SMS to let customers know when they are close to going over their data limit, or when they’ve already exceeded it. The high open rate of text messages makes them a good tool to ensure important messages reach their target. 

Two-factor authentication

This is a very common use of SMS. Two-factor authentication requires a user to enter a code that was sent to a verified communication method on file for them. SMS is one of the fastest and most convenient ways to send these messages.

Appointment reminders

Doctors and other professionals who accept appointments find reducing the number of missed appointments can come down to sending more effective reminders. SMS makes a convenient and reliable way to remind people of their appointments a few days in advance to reduce the number of wasted slots.

Order confirmations 

Order confirmations not only provide customers with assurances that their order has been successfully processed but allow them to detect and act on any errors promptly. By using a highly reliable method like SMS to accomplish this, businesses can reduce errors and increase their customer satisfaction rate.

Surveys and feedback 

Businesses need to be continually improving to stay ahead of the competition. Frequent surveys of existing customers help companies learn what they’re doing right and what they can improve upon. SMS is a great vehicle for reaching as many of the target groups as possible.

Promotions and offers 

Special sales and promotions are often promoted through SMS. Because 10DLC integrates with the rest of your software stack, these promotions can even be tailored to the tone of specific buyer personas and the buying preferences of the intended recipient. 

Who are 10DLC Numbers Best Suited For?

Any business that needs to send mass texts is going to have the option of 10DLC, shortcodes, or toll-free long codes. Like 10DLC, toll-free long codes can be used to send mass SMS messages. However, they share the disadvantage of shortcodes in that they require a lengthy approval process, can be more expensive, and have non-local numbers that can appear impersonal and distant. As long as your business isn’t large enough to need the higher daily message limits, 10DLC tends to be the favored option. The benefits far outweigh the cons at that scale.  

Related: The Benefits of an SMS API to Send and Receive Business Text Messages

Although we’ve seen how the advantages of 10DLC stack up compared to shortcodes, there are some businesses for whom the restrictions on message volume and the long number will be a downside. These businesses are also likely already working on a national or international level, where a local phone number is of less importance. For these very large businesses with high messaging requirements, shortcodes may remain the better option. 

Ultimately the specific option you choose for your company or client’s SMS or MMS messaging needs depends on the specific requirements of their use case. Although 10DLC tends to be the best choice for all but the largest and most active of businesses, there are exceptions that may be unique to the business you’re working with. 

Bring 10DLC To Your Software

10DLC is a versatile solution for today’s businesses. If you’ve been tasked with integrating this technology into your company or client’s communications platform, look for a  high-quality API to ensure a bug-free and reliable final product. 

Flowroute has extensive experience in the telecommunications field. Our messaging APIs have been built off the backs of that experience to save you the headaches typically associated with carrier requirements and network complexities. For a nearly effortless integration of 10DLC, get started with Flowroute today.

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