Inbound SMS at a glance

Your options for receiving SMS via inbound numbers

If you are looking for an SMS gateway provider, you surely already have an idea of what it should offer you. If you want to be able to receive SMS in addition to just sending SMS, sooner or later you will also have to deal with inbound numbers. At seven, we offer several options that allow you to receive inbound SMS. This post is intended to give you an overview of the different options so you can better decide which one suits you and your business.

What does inbound mean?

Inbound means “incoming” or “directed inwards”. It is the opposite of “outbound”, which means “going out” or “directed outwards”.

This article deals with inbound numbers and inbound messages. In particular, we are talking about inbound mobile numbers. Inbound numbers allow you to receive messages on our platform. Even though the term is not clearly defined, it is usually used to refer to numbers that are not “normal” cell phone numbers that are used with regular smartphones. Instead, inbound numbers are usually integrated into systems that enable additional functions. These can be telephony systems, but also SMS gateways like ours. Our SMS gateway offers the decisive advantage that you can retrieve and manage incoming messages in various ways. The different numbers you can purchase have different perks.

To give you a good overview, however, we will only deal with the inbound properties of the numbers in the following text.

What types of inbound are there?

Actually, inbound stands for any kind of communication that comes in. In our case, you probably want to be able to receive SMS. This is especially useful if you use SMS for long-term communication with customers.
We offer you three different options for this, which we would like to take a closer look at here. Each of the three options has its own advantages and disadvantages. The benefit depends above all on your individual use case.

For testing and special cases: Shared inbound numbers

When sending an SMS, you have the option of including a shared inbound number as the sender to which your recipients can then reply. This function is primarily intended as a test of the inbound system. Therefore, there are some restrictions that you should consider here:

  • The shared phone number is assigned to you randomly. You have no influence on which number is used.
  • If you select a shared inbound number to send your SMS again within two weeks, the message will usually be sent from the same number as before. If the last sending was more than 2 weeks ago, you will be assigned a random number again.
  • After sending your messages, you will receive replies going to the number in your seven account in the following 48 hours.
  • It is not guaranteed that you will use the number alone. This means that it is theoretically possible that replies cannot be clearly assigned to your account, namely if another company writes to the same recipient with the same sender number.
  • If it happens that another company wants to rent your number as a dedicated number after 48 hours, you will not be able to use the number again.

For more information on how to use shared numbers, see our Helpdesk article Shared numbers.

Use this option if:

You want to test our inbound gateway or your use case only requires immediate responses and the sender number does not matter.


For communication with customers, we always recommend a dedicated phone number. This is the only way to be sure that answers reach you reliably.

The reliable one: Dedicated numbers

In most cases, it makes sense to get a dedicated number. This is not only much more reliable than using shared numbers, but also much more professional. This is simply because this number is exclusively assigned to you. With your own number, you ensure that the messages actually and exclusively reach you and that there is no confusion on the recipient side with other companies that might use this number.

If you use your own number, you can assume that considerably more customers will make use of the reply option. You can get instructions on how to book your own number on our help page.

If you book your own number via our inbound system, you can filter by country. You will also see whether the number in question can receive SMS from alphanumeric senders (A2P SMS) and whether it can receive SMS and voice messages.

Which one is right for you depends on what you want to use the number for. For example, if you want to receive codes for two-factor authentication, make sure you choose a number that can receive SMS from alphanumeric senders.

Depending on the type of your number, different costs may apply. These will be displayed to you before you complete the booking.

Use this option if:

You communicate with customers or you depend on having a fixed number from which to send SMS.

The well-known one: SIM Hosting

You also have the option to use our SIM hosting. In this case, you send us a SIM card, which we integrate into our system so that you can receive incoming SMS via our system. In this way, even with your own SIM card, you will benefit fully from the functions of our gateway.

Use this option if:

you want to use a very specific number or if you have a SIM card from a country that we currently cannot offer.

Please find all current prices in our price overview.

The choice is yours

So, in summary, you have the following options to receive SMS through our gateway: You can use shared numbers or your own dedicated number. If you decide to use your own number, you can either rent it directly from us or have your own SIM card hosted by us.

For communication with customers, we always recommend you book your own number for the reasons mentioned above.

If you are still not sure whether you even need an inbound number in your company, we recommend our blog article “Should your company be able to receive SMS?

Already know you want to use your own inbound number? Check out our helpdesk article for instructions on how to book your own number.

All the best
Your sms77 team

Header picture by 6689062 via

This article was revised in June 2023 to reflect the current state of our service’s features and offerings.

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