What does the delivery report ‘rejected by the operator’ mean?

What does the delivery report ‘rejected by the operator’ mean?


The ‘rejected by the operator’ delivery report means that the network has immediately rejected the message and will not attempt to deliver the message to the number provided.

This is a permanent error, there will be no further delivery attempt.

This could be for a number of reasons,

  1. The number is not recognised as active on the mobile network.

  2. The number no longer exists or has been disconnected.

  3. The mobile phone is rejecting the SMS. The user may have a ‘do not disturb’ (DND) setting enabled.

  4. The subscriber’s mobile service has been suspended by the mobile network operator. This could be for non-payment of the mobile bill or a breach of its terms and conditions.

  5. The user has changed their contract type and the phone number is temporarily out of service.

    If a user changes from a pay as you go contract to a monthly one, there is usually a short period of between a few hours and a few days for the number to be switched over to the new contract type.

    During this downtime period the mobile number will be unavailable and the rejected delivery report will be provided.

  6. Many networks now deploy spam filtering. If the messages contained a suspicious link or used certain forbidden keywords, a rejected outcome may be returned.


Bear in mind that not all networks have precisely the same approach to how and when the rejected delivery report is generated, so identifying the precise cause isn’t always possible.

As their anti-spam and scam protection improves, it’s likely that incidence of the ‘rejected by the operator’ delivery report will become more common.

Related articles

Delivery reports – A complete guide

Reasons a text message might be delayed.

What are permanent and temporary delivery reports?

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