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What do I need to know about South African short codes?

What two-way options are available?

Clickatell offers dedicated short codes in South Africa.

A South African short code is five digits long and has four accompanying long numbers, one for each local network. When you send a message using a short code as a source address, the receiving handset will see the relevant long number associated with that short code as the sender ID. For example: when you send a message to a Vodacom handset from your short code, the recipient will receive that message from the Vodacom long number for that short code. The long numbers will be unique to each short code.

In South Africa, a short code is country-specific and can only be used to send and receive messages.


What are the expected provisioning times for short codes?

Clickatell will procure the short code and coordinate the approval process with all supported mobile operators on your behalf. The entire process can take up to seven days.

On approval, your dedicated short code is randomly assigned from a pool of available numbers.


What are all the costs involved with a short code?

A dedicated SA short code has a once-off application fee as well as a monthly subscription fee.

All incoming messages to your short code are free, but you pay for outgoing messages.

To get a complete pricing estimate, go to the Clickatell pricing estimator, choose South Africa, select Two-way messaging > short code, and indicate your expected outbound message volumes. Please bear in mind that all outgoing message pricing is estimated as costs are calculated at the time of sending.


Best practices
  • Here is a short checklist of general best practices for SMS campaigns that we recommend to keep in mind if you are sending out SMS campaigns.

  • In addition to the general best practices, it is best practice in South Africa to offer the recipient a free method to opt-out of your list.

  • It is recommended that you identify your company name in the body of your message, since it is not possible to receive a message from a short code in South Africa but only from the associated long numbers as per network regulations.

  • For insurance-driven marketing programs, a reverse billed short code is recommended by the Insurance Ombudsman due to the fact that the mobile subscriber needs to have a free opt-out message. Please contact our sales team for more information on a reverse billed short codes.

  • The Mobile Marketing Association provides some useful trends and best practices for marketing to consumers via mobile.


Regulatory information

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) is the official regulator of the South African communications, broadcasting, and postal services sectors.

We’ve created a quick overview of SMS regulations and restrictions in South Africa that may be applicable to your short code.

It is your responsibility to consult with your legal team and to ensure that your opt-in and opt-out processes, message content, and all other aspects of your message sending within South Africa comply with the applicable legislation as well as the Clickatell terms and conditions to avoid your number being blocked, or substantial fines imposed.

Clickatell is also a member of the Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association (WASPA) and we are bound by their code of conduct.


Apply for a South African short code
  • Sign up for a Clickatell account

  • Set up your billing details

  • Activate SMS as a channel and apply for a short code from within your account

Here is an easy step-by-step guide:


During the festive season, many network operators in SA implement a freeze period on short code processing. The freeze period usually ranges from mid-December to mid-January. It is therefore recommended that short code provisioning and amendments/migrations are done before the freeze period to avoid delays.

For more information on premium short codes and reverse-billed short codes, please contact our sales team.


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