Many websites these days ask you to provide some form of verification when you want to sign up to a service. This includes most things like shopping sites, email accounts, discussion forums, gaming services, blogs, social media and etc. Basic forms of verification are just supplying an email address or perhaps solving a captcha to confirm you are a real person and not a spam bot.
Other forms of verification can try to be a bit more secure by requiring you to enter more personal information like a name, address or zip code. Another method to try and identify you are a legitimate user is phone verification which usually comes in the form of an SMS message with a code sent to your mobile phone. The problem with that is not everyone can or wants to hand over their own phone number.
Some important services might use more secure two factor authentication where it would make more sense to use your real phone number. But for other things that are not so important or just require a one time verification, using a number that is not tied to your own phone might be preferable. Thankfully, there are websites that offer services where you can get a text message sent to another phone number.
Using an online SMS receive service is easy, simply note down the number provided and give it to the service or individual that requires a number to send the message. After a short period of time, the message you are waiting for should appear. Do note that these messages are not private or secure and can be seen by anyone, so make sure no personal information is going to be received.
Here we list 10 websites that offer a free SMS message receiving service which allows you to get text messages sent to you without using a real phone.
How We Tested The Numbers
To verify if these services worked, we simply sent a message to the listed number via Skype SMS, World Text SMS or the aFreeSms Text Messaging Service. Usually one worked if another didn’t. If the service had no more than eight or maybe ten numbers, we tried to test them all. If there were more numbers than that we tried a random selection of six or seven, usually from different countries where possible.
1. Sellaite SMS RECEIVER
Sellaite SMS RECEIVER has been around for several years and is different from most of the other services here because it uses three phone numbers from Estonia (country code +372). They seem to be quite fast at taking down offline numbers and replacing them with working numbers, which should help with reliability.
All three numbers worked fine and received messages within ten or so seconds. A great feature here is the voice messaging option where you can receive and play messages from voice based phone verification. Play and Stop buttons will be visible on the title bar of messages with voice playback. Note the Send SMS button on the main page points to a paid service.
FreePhoneNum has a sizeable selection of twenty seven numbers available although they are all from two countries. The United States has twenty one numbers and Canada has six. We tested five US and three Canadian numbers at random and all were received within a few seconds.
A text sending service is available where you can send up to 5 messages to US/Canada numbers per day. There is also a free voice call service on the website where you can use your speakers/microphone for a two way phone call. Again, this is only to North American +1 international code numbers.
FreeTempSMS appears to be from India and has a total of eight numbers. Six are for the United States and two are for Canada.
At the time of writing, all eight numbers worked fine and all SMS messages were received within a few seconds. There is a registration option but we couldn’t work out what it’s for because it doesn’t seem to do anything and there is no information.
There are eight phone numbers available with SMS-Online, one each from the United States, Puerto Rico, France, Malaysia, Indonesia and Sweden. The United Kingdom has two numbers. Just click the Open button for any country to see the messages list. Do note there is usually a VPN ad at the top of the messages list so you might have to look below that to see your SMS message.
The only number we had trouble with was one of the two from the UK. The rest seemed to work OK so in effect we had seven working countries with one number each. You can subscribe with an email to be notified when new numbers are added. The service is multi language and supports special character like Chinese or Cyrillic. Emojis are also supported
Twilio is not going to be for everyone and you really don’t need it for just a few SMS messages. It requires registering for a trial account but ironically you have to supply a phone number for verification. One of the other services here might receive the SMS but most numbers will already have been used. Otherwise, you will have to decide if giving your real phone number to Twilio is worth it.
The Twilio trial account gives you about $16 of free credit. $1 will be spent by adding a number to your account or changing to a new one. One active number is allowed for trial accounts. To add a number click the red “Get a trial number” button in the dashboard. A US number is the default but you can choose another country through the search function.
Click on All Products and Services > Programmable SMS to go to the SMS dashboard and view any messages that have been received. We used a US number and it costs $0.0075 to receive each message. Numbers for other countries may differ. It appears that $1 will be deducted from your credit for each month the number is in use. The trial account of Twilio can also send messages but only to verified numbers.
The big advantage of Twilio over the other services here is all received messages are only viewable by anyone that knows the login credentials. Therefore, it is much safer if you want to receive personal or private messages.
Fakenum has five numbers listed which are all in the United States. Simply click the “Receive Free SMS” button and then on one of the numbers you want to use. Press the “Show my SMS Message” button or refresh the page to view new incoming messages.
When we tested, four of the five numbers worked. Messages didn’t take long to arrive and were displayed within a few seconds. It’s unlikely to work for you but this was the only free SMS service we found that was accepted by Twilio for phone verification. Could be worth keeping an eye on these numbers if you are trying to get a Twilio trial account.
Online-SMS boasts around seventy numbers coming from fourteen countries. These include the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Poland, Sweden, Portugal, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Denmark and Latvia. We tested a random selection of seven working numbers from the US, France, Belgium, UK and Poland.
With this many numbers available there’s a very good chance some or even many will not be working at any one time. Check the last message received time to get an idea of what is currently active (don’t trust the on page “online” status). Do be aware that during testing some messages were taking 30 minutes or more to arrive. A few numbers were receiving within a couple of minutes but most did take some time.
Another service that uses the same API or was developed by the same company is 7Sim.net. It looks very much the same as Online-sms but has far fewer working numbers.
Receive-SMS has been around for several years and is, in fact, one of a couple of sites that still works from our original article in 2013 (the other was Sellaite). It used to have six European based numbers but now there are four from the United States. The latest messages from all numbers are merged into the bottom of the main window.
We found that three of the four numbers worked fine but the fourth hadn’t been active for a few months or more. There is an option to get notified by email when new numbers are added although they might not change that often because the inactive number has been offline for quite a while. Paid private numbers are available if you need more from your SMS receiving service.
This service has three numbers which are all from the United States. When messages are received from any of those numbers they appear in a merged list in the lower part of the main window.
During testing, all three numbers worked fine and each received an SMS message within a few seconds. Receive-SMS.com links directly to this service on some of its pages so they both appear to be run by the same company or are at least using the same API.
Mytrashmobile only has three active numbers, one each from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. In some ways, this is good because there are fewer numbers to try and maintain and keep online. Click the dropdown to choose the country and number, then press Receive. Note the message receive times are UTC -04:00.
While we have received messages from all three numbers, they weren’t all working at the same time during any one session. The USA number, however, did seem to work consistently. There are Android and iOS apps available and links to other related sites for spoofing texts, emails, WhatsApp and phone calls.
Another useful resource to check is called The SMS Bay. This website doesn’t have its own numbers but lists several SMS receiving services and their active numbers in a table that is supposedly updated every five minutes. Some are already listed here but quite a few are not. The Texts and Age columns don’t appear very accurate so it’s best just to go to the linked website and check for activity yourself.
Final Note: Even if some of them appear to be working, the phone numbers that are used to receive SMS messages online can still be easily blocked using TeleSign’s PhoneID that can identify the type of the provided telephone number such as VoIP, fixed landline, mobile and etc.
You can also be prevented from using one of these numbers for phone verification because someone else has already used it and a unique or lesser used number might be needed. If that is the case there is little option but to keep trying different numbers until you find one that works.