Sending international SMS: country-specific rules, regulations and habits

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SMS is an easy and effective way to instantly reach people all over the world. But with this wide range of countries you can reach, comes a wide range of differences in national habits, restrictions and possibilities. Luckily, CM has international offices all over the world with colleagues that can tell you exactly what to do and what not to do if you want to target consumers in their country. Here is their advice.

The Netherlands
  •  In the Netherlands, both dynamic and alphanumeric Sender ID’s are allowed.
  • Also, both shortcodes and longcodes are allowed once you’ve registered your service.
  • When it comes to content restrictions, the Netherlands only forbids abuse, meaning spam or phishing messages.
  • 06-numbers (standard mobile numbers) may only be used for person-to-person messaging. Unlike some other countries, in the Netherlands you now will need an 097-number to enable two-way messaging between applications and persons (A2A, A2P & P2A). CM can provide you with such a number.
  • In Belgium, it is mandatory to use a shortcode that is a 100% free for the end user. Such free short codes always start with 8xxx, for example, 8850. Dynamic (alpha)numeric Sender ID’s are not allowed.
  • Before sending SMS campaigns, an Opt-in is mandatory. This can be done via SMS, but also using Voice, Paper, Websites et cetera.
  • The Belgian Blacklist Mechanism compels companies to handle ‘STOP’ opt-out messages sent by consumers immediately.
  • Though there is no regulation on this point, marketing campaigns are advised to be sent between 7AM and 7PM on weekdays.
  • In contradiction to many other countries, Germany does allow both alpha- and numeric Sender ID’s are allowed.
  • Though many countries require registration of the sender, in Germany this sender pre-registration is not necessary.
  • Messages in German are found more trustworthy than those in English, so it might render to have your campaigns correctly translated.
  • Personalisation is not just a matter of making the message more appealing, but for security as well. By personalising, the more cautious German can be sure the sender knows him and the message is no scam.
  • Translating to French is essential. French people don’t like to receive messages in English, or any other language for that matter.
  • Marketing messages in France are not allowed to be sent between 20:30 and 08:00 GMT+1, on Sundays or on public holidays.
  • All marketing messages must allow recipients to unsubscribe by sending STOP to a given number in order to opt-out, by mentioning this number in the message.
  • French operators do not allow numeric Sender ID's for sending SMS.
  • In China, marketing messages are not allowed for gambling, property, immigration, adult related content and education. Also, each message sent needs to include the opt-out option.
  • In India, marketing messages may only be sent between 9AM and 9PM.
  • In Hong Kong and Singapore, is it strictly forbidden to send messages to consumers that are registered on the Do-Not-Disturb list.
  • In Singapore, messages for money loans are forbidden. In Malaysia, it is not allowed to send messages for gambling and casino’s.
  • In South Africa, the Sender ID is always over-written with a random national long code. It is not possible to have any form of dynamic Sender ID.
  • All the MNO’s in South Africa outsource their regulatory duties to an independent body called WASPA. If you are targeting South-Africa, it is advised to give this code of conduct on content and message types a read. This code of conduct states, for example, the following: “Unless a customer has expressly or implicitly requested or agreed otherwise, a member may not engage in any direct marketing directed to a consumer on: Sundays, public holidays, Saturdays before 09:00 and after 13:00 and all other days between the hours of 20:00 and 08:00 the following day.
  • Also, promotional competitions may not contain words such as “win” or “prize” to describe items intended to be offered to all or a substantial majority of the participants; exaggerate the chance of winning a prize or suggest that winning a prize is a certainty. Finally, it is prohibited to suggest that the party has already won a prize and that by contacting the promoter of the competition, that the entrant will have definitely secured that prize.
  • Shared and Dedicated standard-rate shortcodes are available in South Africa. The shortcode cannot be used as the Sender ID of a message.
The points mentioned above, are just a selection of the tips and advice we can give to send out successful marketing campaigns to consumers all over the world. Of course, our (inter)national colleagues are more than happy to tell you more. Contact our international offices for more information or try CM’s Marketing Campaigns now.

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Charlotte van Raak

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