What is MISDN

What is a MSISDN?

The mobile industry is riddled with jargon and so we turn, with a sense of mild dread, to the next tedious acronym.

What on earth is a MSISDN?. It’s got something to do with your mobile number right?

Let’s keep this brief and it will all be over soon.

MSISDN stands for Mobile Station International Subscriber Directory Number. It’s the unique number that identifies a mobile subscriber. The MSISDN is the mobile subscriber’s phone number including the international country code.

The maximum length of a MSISDN is 15 digits.

Is the MSISDN the same as your mobile number?

Your MSISDN number is the same as your mobile phone number in international format.

In the UK the format is as follows.

image showing the format of MSISDN number

What is the format for a MSISDN?

The MSISDN is made up of 3 separate elements

1. County code
The country code is between 1 and 5 characters.
Here are examples of 1, 2 and 3 digit country codes

Country Number of digits in country code Country code
USA 1 1
UK 2 44
Kuwait 3 965

2. National Destination Code (NDC)
The national destination code (NDC) comes after the country and code and specifies the network that the MSISDN was originally subscribed to. It can also indicate the region of a country where MSISDN was first registered.

3. Subscriber Number (SN)
The subscriber number (SN) is unique to the individual and allows the mobile phone networks to deliver voice, text and data to a subscriber.

image showing 3 elements of a MSISDN
There are 3 separate elements to MSISDN number

How can I check my MSISDN number?

Each mobile phone will have different ways of accessing or checking the MSISDN number.
On the iPhone, the process is as follows – 

Iphone instruction on accessing MSISDN
How to check the MSISDN on an iPhone

Is the MSISDN attached to the mobile phone?

The MSISDN is not attached to a specific device and the phone SIM can be inserted into any make or model of mobile phone.

The MSISDN can also be ported from one network to another.

What is the difference between an MSISDN and an IMSI?

As we’ve been discussing, the MSSISDN is the mobile number or a subscriber.

The IMSI number (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) is a technical identification of a mobile subscriber that’s used by the networks to send and receive voice calls, data and texts.

The IMSI number is stored on the SIM and is often required if someone wants to switch from one mobile network provider to another.

What is the + for in an MSISDN?

The plus sign is used as an alternative to 00 when using mobile numbers in international format.
There are multiple ways that mobile numbers can be formatted and the + sign is one of the conventions used.

Final thoughts on MSISDN

That’s enough of the MSISDN chat

Congratulations, you’ve made it to the end of the explanation of what an MSSISDN is.

I hope you got what you need and that it wasn’t too painful?

Would you like to be able to automate the sending and receiving of SMS via an API? If you do, we can help.

Why not set up a free SMS API account and we’ll add 50 free SMS credits so you can test us at no cost. We’ll be here to answer any questions that crop up.

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author avatar
Henry Cazalet Managing Director
Co-founder and Director of The SMS Works, a low cost and powerful SMS API for developers. About Henry