Long Code Messaging Rules: A2P 10 DLC Regulations Explained

Long Code Messaging Rules: A2P 10 DLC Regulations Explained

Confused about all the long code messaging rules?

You’re not alone.

Even many of the industry leaders — let alone the carriers themselves — are still ironing out details regarding A2P 10 DLC regulations, requirements, registration, and compliance penalties.

Here’s what we know so far, and what you should know as well about the A2P 10 DLC regulations and the current state of long code messaging rules.

Long Code Messaging Rule 1: Programs Must Have a Terms and Conditions Page

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandates that companies who use long code messaging must have a terms and conditions page on their website. This page must also be available to text users through a hyperlink from the HELP auto-reply text message (I’ll discuss this in detail shortly). 

Long Code Messaging Rules: A2P 10 DLC Regulations Explained

A terms and conditions page gives users a single point of reference where they can quickly find key information. 

What exactly does this page need to include? Here you go. 

Long Code Messaging Rule 2: Terms and Conditions Page Must Contain 6 Key Components

  • Your company name
  • “Msg and data rates may apply”
  • STOP Instructions
  • HELP Instructions
  • Your privacy policy
  • Support contact info

Providing this information creates instant trust and transparency for your long code messaging program, which is the main purpose behind A2P 10 DLC

Long Code Messaging Rules: A2P 10 DLC Regulations Explained

The goal here is to let text users know who they’re dealing with when receiving messages and to protect them from spam. Your terms and conditions page should get them up-to-speed so there’s no question marks when they’re subscribing.

Long Code Messaging Rules: A2P 10 DLC Regulations Explained

Given that the FTC documented a 1.3x increase in texting spam complaints in the past year, giving users quick access to this information is a big step in the right direction. 

One of the primary ways the FTC is keeping spam down is by requiring companies to gain user consent. Before ever sending a long code message, you need to have explicit consent.

Here’s how to do that. 

Create an Opt-In for Your SMS Program

An opt-in gives text users a formal path to sign up to receive SMS messages from your business. And there are several different routes you can take to let users opt-in. 

Long Code Messaging Rules: A2P 10 DLC Regulations Explained

Perhaps the most straightforward is to set up an opt-in button on your mobile site. Here users can conveniently tap on a CTA, giving their explicit consent to receive messages from you. 

Long Code Messaging Rules: A2P 10 DLC Regulations Explained

Another is to have users enter their number online, indicating that they want your business to send them texts. You could, for instance, use a CTA on your homepage or on certain landing pages where visitors can enter their phone number. 

Or, you can have users send a Mobile Originated (MO) message featuring a particular SMS keyword. A simple example would be texting the keyword “HELLO.”

Besides that, you can gain consent through an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) phone system. This “allows incoming callers to access information via a voice response system of pre recorded messages without having to speak to an agent, as well as to utilize menu options via touch tone keypad selection or speech recognition,” writes customer experience technology platform TTEC

Long Code Messaging Rules: A2P 10 DLC Regulations Explained

So, if a customer is already on the phone, this gives you an opportunity to subscribe, while simultaneously gaining their consent. 

Long Code Messaging Rule 4: Include This Information if Your Messages Are Automated

If your SMS program’s core message is generated automatically rather than manually by a person, there’s some essential information you’ll need to include. 

Don’t worry, it’s pretty basic and involves four components:

  • Your SMS program name
  • Support contact information 
  • STOP instructions
  • HELP instructions
Long Code Messaging Rules: A2P 10 DLC Regulations Explained

I’ll elaborate on STOP and HELP instructions more in just a bit. 

Long Code Messaging Rule 5: Your Sender ID Must Include a Pre-Approved US Number

The FCC is also particular about the type of code businesses need to use for the sender ID (otherwise known as the “from address.” When long code messaging, the sender ID must feature a pre-approved US number and be in an international format. 

Also, the sender ID can’t be blocked, hidden, or changed in any way so that it appears as anything different from what it is. 

Long Code Messaging Rule 6: You Must Have an Opt-Out Program

In addition to gaining a text user’s consent before sending them messages, long code messaging rules say you must also have an opt-out program where they can get out at any time. This is done by displaying STOP instructions.

Long Code Messaging Rules: A2P 10 DLC Regulations Explained

Once a user has chosen to opt-out by texting “STOP,” your response message must contain two components:

  • Your SMS program name
  • An opt-out confirmation 

Here’s an example of what a response message may look like:

[Your company’s SMS program] : You have successfully unsubscribed and will no longer receive messages. Reply UNSTOP to receive messages again. 

Once they do that, they should be automatically taken off of your text messaging list. 

But email and SMS marketing platform, Klaviyo, makes another good point about opting-out.

“It’s important to note that the most common way for people to remove consent is to reply “STOP” to any text message you send. However, you should be aware that some people may request to remove consent via other avenues, such as by emailing or calling your customer support team or even contacting you via social media channels.”

In other words, consumers may choose to opt-out in other ways besides texting “STOP.”

When this happens, you should remove a user from your SMS list ASAP, with a maximum of 10 days being the suggested timeframe. Otherwise, it can hurt your brand reputation and potentially lead to fines from the FCC. 

Long Code Messaging Rule 7: You Must Offer HELP Instructions

Another part of A2P 10 DLC regulations is ensuring consumers can painlessly find customer support to answer any questions they may have about your messaging service. So, whenever someone texts “HELP” to your long code number, they will receive a compliant response. 

Here’s an example of what a HELP response may look like:

[Your company’s SMS program] : Call 8005551212 for customer support. Terms and conditions: http://yourtandcpage Reply STOP to cancel. 

Note that a user doesn’t have to be subscribed to your SMS program for you to be required to send a response. Rather, anyone who texts “HELP” should receive a response, even if they haven’t subscribed.

Long Code Messaging Rule 8: You Can’t Send Messages to Users Who Are on Do-Not-Call or Do-Not-Disturb Registries

One way consumers can ensure they’re not contacted by businesses is by registering with the National Do Not Call Registry. This is a program from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that allows consumers to register their phone, verify their registration, and report unwanted calls and texts. 

Once they do this, it’s unlawful to contact them. 

So, how do you make sure you don’t message these users?

First, access the National Do Not Call Registry, visit this link from the FTC’s website. Then, register new users. 

From there, the National Do Not Call Registry will have you do the following:

  • Create a profile
  • Receive account information like an organization ID and password
  • Subscribe to the area codes you want (you can subscribe to five for free)

Long Code Messaging Rule 9: You Can’t Send Messages Outside of a User’s Daytime Hours

Another thing A2P 10 DLC regulations are cracking down on is companies sending promotional content at odd hours. And this is completely understandable. 

It’s totally fine to send a consumer a text during the middle of the day. But sending it at 1 o’clock in the morning can be massively disruptive. 

As Tracy Kunzi, director of account management Mogreet puts it, you should “be respectful: not too early in the morning and not too late at night. Think about when users would want to accept a phone call. A text message has a similar alert method and people typically don’t want to be bothered at those times.”

Besides staying compliant, this can prevent a lot of avoidable friction with consumers and should increase engagement. For more on getting your timing right with texts, I suggest reading this full article by Kunzi

Long Code Messaging Rule 10: Text Messages Must Not Exceed 160 Characters

The maximum number of characters in an SMS message is 160 characters for US numbers. If you’re sending to users in Canada, that number is lower at 136 characters. And for Unicode, the limit is smaller yet with just 70 characters per text. 

Long Code Messaging Rules: A2P 10 DLC Regulations Explained

Generally speaking, long codes don’t support concatenation where longer messages are segmented and split up into multiple messages. So, you’ll want to keep your texts short and sweet. 

Also, try to avoid using a URL shortening service like Bitly.

“If you are providing a link in a message, use the full URL,” suggests Genesys Cloud. “Using a URL shortening service can increase the chances of your messages getting filtered, as short URLs are often used by spammers.”

Long Code Messaging Rule 11: You Can’t Send Inappropriate Content

Broadcast journalist, John Eggerton, explains that a couple of years ago the FCC declared text messages as being information services rather than telecom services. In turn, this basically gave carriers the right to block and censor messages deemed as inappropriate. 

Long Code Messaging Rules: A2P 10 DLC Regulations Explained

Now I know the word “inappropriate” is subjective and open to interpretation, but it’s pretty easy to tell when content could potentially be an issue. Adult content sent to minors, for example, is a biggie that can get you into trouble, as would anything inflammatory that could create anger or outrage users. 

Long Code Messaging Rules: A2P 10 DLC Regulations Explained

If this happens, even if it’s unintentional, your company could be banned. Also, note that using spammy techniques like keyword stuffing or repeating the same URL over and over again can potentially lead to your messages being blocked by networks. 

The most common banned use cases go by the acronym SHAFT

  • Sex
  • Hate
  • Alcohol
  • Firearms
  • Tobacco

It really just boils down to using common sense and erring on the side of caution. If you think a particular message could be a problem, don’t send it. 

Long Code Messaging Rule 12: You Can’t Exceed the Maximum Message Volume

Finally, long code messaging rules state that you can’t send more than one text message per second and a maximum of 5,000 messages per day. If you go any higher than that, you run the risk of having your number blocked. 

Note that if your business needs to send a higher volume than 5,000 messages per day, you can get additional long codes.

Remember, It’s All About Creating a Great Customer Experience

I’ll be upfront with you. These long code messaging rules may seem a little overwhelming at first glance, especially if you’re fairly new to SMS marketing

Admittedly, there’s quite a bit to remember. But when you compare them to short codes, A2P 10 DLC regulations for long codes are actually less rigid, and there are fewer rules to abide by.

At the end of the day, these FCC regulations are in place to create an ecosystem of trust and transparency, while reducing spam and other issues. It’s all about creating the best possible customer experience, while at the same time helping your company get the most from your SMS marketing. 

While it definitely takes some time to learn the ins and outs, following these long code messaging rules should put your business on track to having better communication with customers, making deeper connections, and building your brand reputation.   

And don’t worry. Salesmsg has got your back

We make it simple to send, receive, and manage text message conversations online and can help make sure you’re on board with regulations. 

Long Code Messaging FAQs

To wrap up, here are answers to common questions. 

What’s the purpose of long code messaging rules?

To protect consumers and reduce spam, while creating more trust and transparency with SMS marketing campaigns.

Who oversees them?

The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

What information do you need to have in your terms and conditions?

  • Your company name
  • “Msg and data rates may apply”
  • STOP Instructions
  • HELP Instructions
  • Your privacy policy
  • Support contact info

What do you need to do before sending text messages to consumers?

Gain their consent, which can be done by creating an opt-in SMS program. Besides that, you need an opt-out program and to offer HELP instructions. 

What’s the maximum number of texts you can send?

You can send one message per second and 5,000 per day. 

What are some common reasons why you may be blocked, banned, or fined?

  • Failing to get a user’s consent prior to messaging them
  • Not including your number for the sender ID
  • Not having an opt-out program
  • Not offering HELP instructions
  • Exceeding the maximum message volume

If you have any other questions, or just need further clarification on long code messaging rules, we’re here to help. 

Call or text us at (561) 788-7898.

Daniel Threlfall

Daniel has been nosing around in the digital marketing space for more than ten years — back when "link wheels" were cool and MySpace was...yes, dead, even then. Daniel's favorite career accomplishments involve building NeilPatel.com to over 2m unique monthly users, expanding Shopify's user base as content lead, and making forays into new markets for SaaS businesses like Chili Piper, Ahrefs, Usertesting.com, and others. Today, Daniel is leveraging his marketing energies to help more businesses discover the power of SMS conversations. In his personal life, Daniel is surprised to be the owner of a small farm with real cows and chickens. He and his academic spouse have four kids and are gratefully out of the diaper phase. When the world isn't in a pandemic Daniel and his family travel to far flung places around the world. Insert something about a coffee addiction, cats (even though I don't have any), and craft beer (even though I'm not a connoisseur.)