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SMS Delivery Reports Overview

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Customers of The SMS Works only pay for SMS messages that are delivered.
Failed messages are refunded back to customers’ accounts. 

All technical documents relating to delivery reports can be found in our developer zone.

Before we start...

Before diving into some of the detail, just a couple of quick but important points regarding delivery reports.

Please be aware that the sms delivery report service offered by the networks comes with no guarantees, service level agreements or contracts.

If a network has a problem and is unable to provide delivery reports, then unfortunately there is no comeback or way of retrieving them. Very occasionally, the network will simply provide no delivery report data at all.

When a delivery report is not provided, we have to assume that the message was delivered and the credit for that message will be used and not refunded.

Delivery Report Outcomes


Mobile number is correct; message has been successfully delivered to the handset.


The SMS Works platform has accepted the message but no delivery report has yet been received from the networks.


The message could not be delivered. (See below for possible reasons why a message might be undelivered. The text credit is added back to your account.


The message was not delivered within the validity period of the relevant mobile phone network.

Networks will try to deliver a message for up to 72 hours, then the message will expire. Different networks have different validity periods.

The credit for the message will be refunded.


The message was rejected by The SMS Works Platform. See delivery report documentation for more precise definitions.

No credit will be deducted.

What are the main reasons for an ‘undelivered’ outcome?

There are several reasons why an SMS might fail to be delivered.

Incorrect or inactive number

The mobile number is wrong, inactive or no longer in use.

Wrongly formatted number or message

The mobile number has been incorrectly formatted or is incomplete. UK Mobile numbers can either start 07 or 447 (44 being the international dialling code for the UK).

The number contains too few or too many numbers.

The message contains unsupported characters.

No mobile phone signal

The mobile phone was out of range for 2 or 3 days and the message expired.

The mobile was switched off 

The phone was switched off and remained switched off until the message expired (after 2 or 3 days)

International roaming disabled

If international roaming is switched off, then some handsets may not receive texts.

‘Hanging text’

Occasionally a message can hang on the network despite the receiving handset having a strong signal. Switching the phone off and on again often resolves this issue. This is becoming increasingly rare but still happens occasionally.

How long will it take for credits for failed messages to be allocated back to my account?

The moment that you send out your texts, the relevant number of text credits are deducted from your account. Note that sending messages outside the UK uses 2 text credits.

Non-delivered messages are allocated back in real time as soon as delivery reports have been received and processed.

Any numbers that are not recognised by the Networks tend to generate failed reports fairly quickly, often within half an hour of the message being sent.

Messages that fail for any other reason, can take much longer, in some cases up to a few days. This is because the network will keep trying to deliver a message for up to 72 hours before it finally stops attempting delivery.

Please note that different network have different message expiry timing.

International Messages

Please note that we are unable to refund failed messages to non-UK numbers.