Short Code SMS VS Long Code: What Is The Difference?

Coline Constant
21 Feb, 2022

SMS is known as the most effective channel of communication. Therefore, it is worth using it. But do you know the differences between a short code SMS and a long code SMS? What are the pros and cons of both? Find out here.

Short code vs long code

Today, there are many ways to communicate with your customers. One thing is certain, with the increasing number of communications, it is essential to find the right channel to effectively reach your target.

With open rates around 99%, SMS is surely an excellent choice. And that’s why more and more companies are opting for it. And for good reason.

It is possible to send SMS from two types of numbers which are called “Short Code” and “Long Code”. These numbers are managed by Third Party Services Providers. In Belgium, RingRing is the leading Third Party Services Provider.

Let’s see the differences, apart from the length, of course, of these two kinds of numbers. 

Short Code and Long Code: quick definition

short code example

What is an SMS Short Code?

An SMS short code is an easy-to-remember telephone number consisting, in Belgium, of only four digits (e.g. 8810, 8811…). These numbers can be used to send and receive SMS (hence the name SMS Short Code) to and from mobile phones. Short codes are mainly used by and for companies in all sectors.

The best-known SMS short code campaigns come from retail. Let’s take an example. You receive an SMS from your favourite shop announcing a promotion or offering you a discount code. What good news! That’s classic SMS marketing campaign for retail.

Short codes can be dedicated or “shared”. Dedicated short codes are only used for one customer. Shared short codes are used by several customers.

sms long code number example

What Is a Long Code Number?

As its name suggests, the long code is a standard number, longer than the short code. It actually refers to the numbers we all know and use. Like the short code, the long code allows you to send and receive SMS to and from mobile phones.

What are the differences between Short Code SMS and Long Code SMS?

Let’s go over the differences between short codes and long codes.

BIPT, the Belgian Institute for Postal Services and Telecommunications, establishes the rules for telecommunications in Belgium and has decided that all automated communication is supposed to come from a short code number.

In addition, the use of classic numbers (long codes) for commercial purposes is contractually prohibited by operators. Moreover, they filter and block thousands of numbers on a daily basis because of this type of use of long code numbers.


For a single operator in Belgium, short codes allow you to send hundreds of SMS per second.

With the long codes, this drops to only one SMS per second.

This makes a big difference in terms of efficiency and rapidity. But also for quality and reliability because the short codes are provided by a professional service. It is definitely a big point.


It is not possible to send SMS abroad with a Belgian short code (except for Luxembourg). At least for the Third Party Services Provider. But this is not a problem. If you want to communicate with your contacts outside our borders, as Third Party Services Provider, RingRing will simply work with partners abroad to have access to their short codes. And we already have all the needed connections to do this.


Short codes beginning with 8xxx are free of charge for the end user. Both when receiving and when sending SMS. In this case, the communicating company covers the costs. On the contrary, communications with a long code are therefore potentially chargeable for the end user. This can be quite unpopular in the eyes of the end user.

From the companies’ point of view, short code is a premium service for companies and thus costs more. But you also pay for a professional service you can rely on.

Customer experience

First of all, the use of a short code allows the customer to directly know that this is a special communication. And not an error or fake SMS. Let’s remember here that between 90 and 95% of frauds come from long code numbers. And, when you receive a message from an unknown number, what is your reaction? Not very positive, is it? If you receive a message from a short code, on the other hand, you know that it is an “official” message. This is quite important.

To be directly identified by your contacts, you can opt for a dedicated short code, which belongs to you alone. It is a good point to improve customer experience.

Short Code SMS or Long Code SMS: Which One to Choose?

Using an SMS short code is definitely the best option. As well in terms of security and reliability (thanks to the Third Party Services Provider, like RingRing, leader in the market), as in efficiency and quality of the customer experience.

Whatever you choose, RingRing can provide what you need! Try our 14-day free trial now to see what you can do with our services. Do you have any questions? Contact our experts and let us guide you.

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