United States Messaging Content Requirements
Last updated: 3/16/2023
These guidelines are relevant for SMS and MMS compliance in USA.
CTIA - US SMS Messaging Programs
In the US, the CTIA is the governing body for all text messaging programs to protect consumers from unwanted messages, which all message senders must abide by, in addition to the Wireless Providers’ code of conduct and best practices.
To ensure a compliant program meets the minimum CTIA requirements, it’s best to ensure your program includes the following Guiding Principles and Short Code Program Components.
The purpose of a Call-to-Action (CTA) is to ensure the Consumer consents to receive text messages and understands the nature of the program. The CTA language must encourage or invite a Consumer to opt into a Messaging program and must be clearly and unambiguously displayed with the following disclosures:
- Program (Brand) Name/Product Description
- Message Frequency Disclosure
- Message and Data Rates may apply (if non-FTEU)
- STOP keyword (Opt-out information may appear in the terms and conditions.)
- Complete terms and conditions OR link to complete terms and conditions (Popups are not a method for displaying terms and conditions)
Messaging programs are expected to provide full transparency so that Consumers are aware of and only receive messages from Messaging Programs to which they have opted in.
Consumers must opt-in to receive messages associated with a specific program. Enrolling a Consumer in multiple programs based on a single opt-in is prohibited, even when all programs operate on the same Short Code.
Message Senders must acknowledge and act on all opt-out requests. Monitoring procedures confirm a successful opt-out.
Terms and Conditions
Comprehensive terms and conditions might be presented in full beneath the CTA, or they might be accessible from a link in proximity to the CTA and must disclose the following:
- Program (Brand) Name
- Product Description
- Message Frequency Disclosure
- Message and Data Rates May apply (if non-FTEU)
- Customer Care Contact Information (email or toll-free phone number)
- Opt-Out Instructions (reply STOP to opt-out)
For more details about CTIA messaging requirements, see the CTIA Messaging Monitoring Handbook and the CTIA Messaging Principles and Best Practices.
US - Program Message Flow Key Elements
A Messaging program’s message flow consists of the following:
Messaging programs should send a single opt-in confirmation message displaying information to verify the Consumer’s enrollment, identify the program, and describe how to opt out.
Additionally, opt-in messages must contain the program (brand) name or product description, customer care contact information, message frequency disclosure, “message and data rates may apply” disclosure (non-FTEU), and opt-out instructions (reply STOP to opt-out).
Message Senders must send a HELP message after Consumers text the HELP keyword. Short Codes must reply with the program’s name and additional contact information for Consumer help.
Message Senders send an opt-out message after Consumers text a keyword indicating they wish to opt out (for example, STOP, END, CANCEL, QUIT, UNSUBSCRIBE). The opt-out message must include the program’s name and confirm that the Consumer has been opted out of the program.
Example Web Recurring Opt-Ins
Example Call-to-action for recurring message with standard web opt-in
Example Call-to-action for recurring message with opt-in on web form
Example Call-to-action for recurring message with web opt-in on pop-up
Message Flow – Example confirmation MT for web opt-in
Example Web Opt-In for Single Message Program
Example Call-to-action for one-time passcode (STEP 1)
Example Call-to-action for one-time passcode (STEP 2)
Message Flow – Example MT for Once-Time 2FA Code
Example Call-to-action for single message app download
Message Flow – Example MT for One-Time App Download
Example Keyword Opt-In for recurring message program
Call-to-action for recurring message with keyword opt-in
Message Flow – Example Confirmation MT for Keyword Opt-In
Robust Age Gates
SHAFT - Robust Age Gates
Messaging content for controlled substances or for distribution of adult content might be subject to additional carrier review. This type of messaging should include robust age verification (for example, electronic confirmation of age and identity).
Examples of robust age gates include:
- ‘Reply with your birthdate xx/xx/xxxx’
- A web opt-in form field, which requires the user to include their birthday
Asking a user to “reply YES/AGREE” to confirm they are over a certain age is not considered a robust age verification.
Call-to-action for recurring message with web opt-in and ROBUST AGE GATE
Message Flow – Robust Age Gate (verified)
Message Flow – Robust Age Gate (age minimum not met)
Mandatory Keyword Responses
HELP messages for all message flows
STOP messages for all message flows
Comprehensive terms and conditions might be presented in full beneath the call-to-action, or they might be accessible from a link in proximity to the CTA.
Popups are not a method for displaying terms and conditions.
Where feasible, Message Senders may combine multiple program components (e.g., call-to-action and terms and conditions)
The following SMS program disclosures must be included within the terms and conditions.
- Program (brand) name.
- Message frequency disclosure. (not required for single message programs)
- Product description.
- Customer care contact information.
- Opt-out information. (not required for single message programs)
- “Message and data rates may apply” disclosure. (not required for FTEU rated programs)
Example Mobile Terms and Conditions
Any mentioning of 3rd Party Data Sharing, Renting, or Selling is disallowed unless the below disclosure is included.
All the above categories exclude text messaging originator opt-in data and consent; this information will not be shared with any third parties.