Receive free delivery reports for your SMS text messages

March 17th, 2010

How can I tell whether my text message has been received by the recipient?

Picture294_15May08
Creative Commons License photo: romulusnr

Text messages are amazingly handy – they’re quick and easy to send and they do not demand instant attention: the recipient will still receive your message if they are too busy to pick up the phone or if their phone is off (when they next turn it on). The major caveat with text messages is that they’re not always instant and you have no idea whether they’re been received or read- sometimes they’re delivered in seconds and other times they take days. Occasionally, this leads to awkward situations where you’ve texted something important and they deny having received it!

The solution to this issue is to request a “SMS delivery report” for any time-critical or important text messages. You’ll receive a text notification when your text has been delivered to the recipient and usually it’s free.

How does it work?

You need to prefix your text message with a special code. This is an instruction to your mobile network to notify you by text once it has delivered the text. The special code is stripped from the message the recipient actually sees so they will never know that you have requested a delivery receipt.

Unfortunately, the delivery receipt will not tell you whether the recipient has actually read your message – only the fact that their phone has received the message. It’s analogous to registered/recorded mail: when the Royal Mail reports a package as delivered, it doesn’t say anything about whether the package has been opened or looked at. Even if you do receive a delivery receipt, the phone could be hiding at the bottom of somebody’s bag or the text could be deleted accidentally.

How can I request a delivery receipt?

DC-10-30F
Creative Commons License photo: Ack Ook

For most mobile networks, prefix your SMS message with *0# (that’s a zero between the star and the hash).

We’ve confirmed that this code works on O2 and T-Mobile in the UK and that there is no charge for the delivery receipt. Do try it on your network and see whether it works. Some network may also charge you for this service so please do double-check before using it on a regular basis. Several people have reported that Orange uses the code “RCT ” (without the quotes) and charges 1p for a delivery receipt.

Let us know how you get on in the comments.

Can I request this for all of the texts I send?

Yes. If you find yourself using this feature regularly then check the menus of your phone – it may have an option to turn them on automatically. This will prevent you from having to prefix your messages each time. We don’t recommend using this feature though – it will mean you receive a large quantity of delivery receipts.

Does this tell me when my text is read?

No. As far as we are aware, read receipts are not supported by any phone or network especially given the recipient of the text would be charged to send such a notification.

Like this tip? Get the most from your mobile phone...

  • Discover brand new ways to use your mobile phone
  • Techniques to get more out of your mobile phone for less
  • Be the first to learn about new mobile technology

Enter your email to receive free regular Ken's Tech Tips:

About Ken

Ken Lo

My passion is helping people to get the most out of their mobile phone. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005.

Aside from writing about mobile technology, my interests are in software development, digital marketing and physics. Outside of the blog, I work with numerous technology companies helping them to explain their product and helping them to market it to consumers. Please get in touch for more information.

Your Comments

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 1 comment from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  1. Tabethia said:

    I accedentally deleted my number off of facebook mobile, and I tryed putting it back on. But it won’t send me a conformation code. I’ved tryed EVERYTHING please help me.

Leave a Reply

E-Mail Notifications: By default, I'll drop you an e-mail when there's a reply to your comment. If you don't want to receive such a notification, please select the "Don't Subscribe" option from the dropdown menu above.