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A Common Short Code (CSC) or “short code” is a special number that’s significantly shorter than a full telephone number and can be used to make calls or send and receive SMS messages.

All CSC’s are 5-6 digits in length and can come in one of two forms — either abbreviated dialing or messaging. They can also be customized and used in place of a long-tail vanity phone number just like the Law Firm bus ad on this blog post (just dial #LAW (529) to call their offices). So cool, right?!

Designed to be easier to read and remember, short codes are most often used for texting for value-add services like charity donations and TV-based voting (think “The Voice”). But be careful when sending short codes too! CSC’s can come with a hefty price just to send one message. If you send the word “STOP” in response to a short code, it will stop sending you information.

How to Get Your Own Short Code

If you want to obtain a dedicated short code in the U.S., you have to choose between vanity and random codes. It’s sort of like like picking a license plate.

With the vanity code, you get to choose the specific number and it cost around $1,000 per month to register per code (random short codes cost about half that). Keep in mind, the approval process for a custom short code can take anywhere from 12-16 weeks.