A TP-Link router sitting on a side table in a home, next to a stack of books.
TP-Link

Whether you’re just the curious sort or you’re dying to know if your brilliant idea for a prank Wi-Fi name will work, here’s the scoop on the minimum and maximum SSID lengths.

SSID Basics

The SSID, or Service Set Identifier, is the name assigned to a Wi-Fi network. It’s written out, typically, as an alphanumeric string.

Maybe you’re still using the one that came pre-applied to your router, like TP-LINK_2058JE9 or maybe you swapped it out for something personal, like StevesHouse , or something funny, like WuTangLAN or FBI Surveillance Van.

How Long Can a Wi-FI Network Name (SSID) Be?

But how long, or short for that matter, can you make it? Let’s get to the bottom of it and go right to the source. The source, in this case, is the 802.11 wireless standards maintained by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

From the most current revision of the standards document, as of July 2022, 802.11-2021, we can see the size range of the SSID value.

A figure from Wi-Fi standards documents, showing the values for SSID element sizes.
IEEE

You might not trot out the word “octet” a lot in your day-to-day life, but it means a group of eight. In this case, eight bits. It’s used in computer documentation to avoid the ambiguity of the word “byte.”

How that relates to the matter at hand is this: each character of the text you’re reading right now, and the text you might use for your SSID, is represented by individual characters that are each 8 bits in size.

So the SSID name field length is 0 to 32 characters. The extreme minimal side of that range is inaccessible for our purposes—as noted in the documentation excerpt above, the SSID length of 0 is reserved for special functions, and you can’t set an empty SSID on your router.

An example of the shortest possible SSID, a single character.
X, the SSID formerly known as NETGEAR-20HE295.

You could, however, make your SSID a single character like X or even a blank space like   , but the firmware on your router may restrict you from using extremely small SSID values. That’s not because of compliance with 802.11 standards; it’s just a firmware choice some manufacturers make. Typically a minimum length of 2 characters is enforced, but it may be higher.

The upper threshold is a firm one, however, because any value exceeding 32 characters is invalid. You won’t be able to save it to your router settings, nor will you be able to enter it on a client device.

An example of a long 32 character SSID name.
This is not the greatest SSID in the world, this is just a tribute.

An example of the longest possible SSID you could use is LongSSIDNamesAreMoreThanPossible, which is 32 characters on the dot.

Spaces are valid in SSID names too, so something like  With Spaces Your SSID Feels Long is both valid and a bit easier on the eyes.

Be Careful About the Characters You Use

Speaking of spaces, this last bit of SSID trivia might surprise you. The character set and the organization of those characters are not, in anyway, enforced by the 802.11 standards. The only rule for the SSID is that it is 1-32 characters.

While your particular router might enforce rules like only allowing basic ASCII characters such as A-Z , a-z , 0-9 , spaces, and some common special characters like ! and _ , that’s a manufacturer choice, not a restriction imposed by the standard. In theory, any character you can input is valid.

Be warned: Using extended character sets can create readability issues for client devices that can’t display the characters you’ve selected.

Sometimes, even without dipping into extended character sets, odd Wi-Fi SSIDs can cause unexpected issues too. So it’s never a bad idea, whether your SSID is long or short, to stick to simple alphabet-based SSIDs like I Love Really Really Long SSIDs.

The Best Wi-Fi Routers of 2022

Best Wi-Fi Router Overall
Asus AX6000 (RT-AX88U)
Best Budget Router
TP-Link Archer AX3000 (AX50)
Best Cheap Router
TP-Link Archer A8
Best Gaming Router
Asus GT-AX11000 Tri-Band Router
Best Mesh Wi-Fi Router
ASUS ZenWiFi AX6600 (XT8) (2 Pack)
Best Budget Mesh Router
TP-Link Deco X20
Best Modem Router Combo
NETGEAR Nighthawk CAX80
Best VPN Router
Linksys WRT3200ACM
Beat Travel Router
TP-Link AC750
Best Wi-Fi 6E Router
Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000
Profile Photo for Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Senior Smart Home Editor at How-To Geek. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at How-To Geek, Review Geek, LifeSavvy, and Lifehacker. Jason served as Lifehacker's Weekend Editor before he joined How-To Geek.
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