Sending SMS messages to the USA can be complicated - there are restrictions in place and several options to choose from. The SMS industry in the US is highly regulated by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and CTIA , which control what content can be sent and on what conditions. When the guidelines are not followed, messages will get blocked by the operators.

It all can seem like a lot, but don’t worry - Messente will help you find the suitable option and make sure all laws and regulations are met. Here are a few things to pay attention to:

  • Sender Names and the 2 important numbers to consider
  • Registration Process
  • Content Restrictions

Sender names

Alpha and numeric sender names get filtered by the operators, so you need a dedicated number to send out your messages successfully.

There are two main types of numbers used for messaging in the US - 10DLC number and toll-free number. Shortcodes are also used but mostly only by bigger financial institutions.

10-digit long code or 10DLC

10-digit long codes (10DLCs) are local 10-digit phone numbers that can support a high volume of text messages. There are costs involved with registration but it also has more flexibility when it comes to SMS price, so it is most efficient for companies sending over 10k messages per month. They come with a local area code of your choice, which is most useful for companies targeting local areas.

Toll-free SMS number or TFN

Toll-free SMS numbers are 10-digit numbers with an 800 or 888 nationwide “area code” as the initial digits. The same toll-free number can be used both in the USA and Canada. They are cheaper to register but not as flexible in SMS pricing, so it is a simple and cheap solution for businesses sending less than 5000 messages per month.

Sender TypeRegistration costsSetup timePrice structure
10DLC15€-60€4-5 workdayFlexible
Toll-free number5€ per month2 weeks Fixed price


The setup process for both numbers involves documentation that has to be filled out, which contains information such as your company details, message contents and how the customers opt-in to receive the mentioned SMS contents.

For more information, please contact support (

Opt-in and opt-out

Data protection laws require that the recipients give their explicit consent before receiving any SMS from your company. It is best to make very clear on your website/app, what happens to their phone number after entering. Here are some examples of what you can add to your check-out page:

Content restrictions

For the SMS content, rules are similar to other countries - general restrictions apply, which are mentioned in our Terms and Conditions.

It is also not allowed to send political, religious, unsolicited promotion, gambling, high-risk financial service, or illegal substance content.

High-risk financial services
  • Payday loans
  • Short term high-interest loans
  • Third-party auto loans
  • Third-party mortgage loans
  • Student loans
  • Cryptocurrency
“Third-party” means originating from any party other than the one which will service the loan.

SMS messages featuring financial investment advice or tips, as well as information on loans and refinancing options, are prohibited. Carriers also prohibit messages with links to donation sites.
Third-party lead generation services
Companies that buy, sell, or share consumer information.
Buying, selling, or sharing of consumer data is strictly prohibited. The business that obtained consent is the only business authorized to send SMS.

“Cold” outreach is the solicitation of business from potential customers who have had no prior contact with the business and is strictly prohibited.
Debt collection or forgiveness
  • Third-party debt collection
  • Debt consolidation
  • Debt reduction
  • Credit repair programs
Almost all debt consolidation and forgiveness efforts are prohibited for SMS and MMS.

Regarding debt collection, the business owed the debt can send payment reminders to late payers, personalized messages with account details, and follow up on payment confirmations. However, a third party cannot attempt to collect the debt for you via SMS and MMS.
"Get rich quick” schemes or Multi-level marketing
  • Work-from-home programs
  • Risk investment opportunities
  • “Get rich quick," "build your wealth," and "financial independence" offerings
  • Multi-level marketing, network marketing and pyramid schemes
Multi-level marketing (MLM) products, services, or content commonly associated with unsolicited commercial messages (spam) are prohibited.

This is different from outreach about employment as a result of compliant opt-in practices, messages from brokerages to their members, investment news alerts, or other investment-related messages.
Illegal substances
  • Marijuana/Cannabis
  • Prescription drugs
  • Vaping
Cannabis is federally illegal in the United States. Cannabis businesses will not be permitted to use SMS/MMS messaging in the US, regardless of message content.

CBD is federally legal, but is not legal in some US states, so US carriers do not permit messaging related to CBD.
Offers for drugs that cannot be sold over-the-counter in the US/Canada are forbidden.
  • Casino apps
  • Gambling websites
While gambling traffic is prohibited on Toll Free, it is allowed on Short Code, or Long Code, as long as proper age gating procedures are in place.
"S.H.A.F.T." use cases
  • Sex
  • Hate
  • Alcohol**
  • Firearms**
  • Tobacco*
*While Tobacco traffic is prohibited on Toll Free, it is allowed on Short Code, or Long Code, as long as proper age gating procedures are in place.

** Firearms and Alcohol traffic is allowed on Toll Free, Short Code, and Long Code, as long as proper age gating procedures are in place.
Vaping-related traffic is prohibited.

Let's get you set up

As you can see, the US is a highly regulated market with its complexities. With Messente’s help, you can get it all set up in 2-3 weeks.