Navigating U.S. SMS Compliance: A Comprehensive Guide

Navigating U.S. SMS Compliance: A Comprehensive Guide

Navigating U.S. SMS Compliance: A Comprehensive Guide

SMS messaging is now such a popular way for businesses to get in touch with their target audience that other means of communicating are starting to feel obsolete. In a 2022 survey of U.S. consumers, 46% of people said that “they liked being contacted by brands via text message.” 

However, with skyrocketing popularity and usage comes more nuanced legislation and regulatory action. The current laws help protect consumers from receiving unwanted spam messages—and that’s a good thing for businesses, too. Excessive, overbearing messaging practices hurt your brand’s reputation in a big way.

In particular, 10-digit long codes (10DLCs) are quickly becoming the standard for commercial SMS communication. They let businesses send high volumes of messages while enjoying better security and deliverability than other options. However, implementing a successful SMS marketing program via 10DLC or another number type means adhering to strict compliance standards.

This guide leads you through the most important details about U.S. SMS regulations. You’ll discover vital information and best practices on topics like:

  • The difference between P2P and A2P messaging

  • Choosing the right SMS number type for your use case

  • Implementing precise, transparent opt-in and opt-out mechanisms

Disclaimer

MessageBird hopes these guidelines help you navigate U.S. SMS compliance laws effectively. Although this guide reflects our current understanding of U.S. SMS & Voice regulations, this guide is not a substitute for legal advice. 

We cannot guarantee that the information in this guide is at all times comprehensive, up-to-date, or accurate, especially any links provided to external pages owned and maintained by third parties. By making this guide available, we make no assurances regarding the legal compliance of your use of the MessageBird platform and APIs. If you have questions about compliance with applicable laws, please consult with your legal counsel. 

As the regulatory landscape continues to evolve, we may make periodic updates and/or new versions of this guide available without notice or warning.

Mastering the Basics: The Who, What and Why of SMS Compliance in the U.S.

In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) issue and maintain guidelines regarding messaging dos and don'ts.

The primary federal SMS marketing law in the U.S. is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Since the TCPA was first passed in 1991, the legislation has evolved considerably, especially with the expansion of telemarketing and robo-texting provisions. Text message sends have exploded nationwide, zooming past two trillion in 2021 alone.

At a high level, the TCPA requires all businesses to do the following:

  • Obtain express written consent from customers before sending SMS marketing messages

  • Secure an individual’s written consent in a clear, conspicuous manner

  • Give consumers the option to opt out of future business communication at any time

On the CTIA side, there’s the recently established 10-Digit Long Code (10DLC) program. Designed to improve the SMS experience and communication reliability, it requires businesses to: 

  • Register phone numbers with a recognized messaging service provider

  • Procure a Trust Score from the CTIA to address spam or fraud concerns

  • Adhere to strict rules that control aspects like commercial message content and volume

Aside from reputational harm, brands that fail to comply with TCPA or 10DLC norms often experience hefty financial and legal penalties. As a result, business leaders must fully understand the SMS regulatory landscape and ensure compliance with all applicable laws and guidelines. 

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By clicking "See Bird" you agree to Bird's Privacy Notice.