Communication knows no borders: However, if you’re planning an international SMS campaign, you should pay attention to a few key details and know what you need to pay particular attention to in each country.
There are different habits, regulations and options all over the world – this also applies to sending and receiving SMS. Do you want to target customers, business partners or external employees abroad? Then you should take the following information into account, which we have put together in detail for some countries.
An extended list, sorted by continent, can be at the bottom of the article.
SMS within Germany
In Germany, you can use both alphanumeric (11 characters) and numeric sender IDs as usual. However, shortcodes such as 12345 as sender are often not delivered correctly and the success of your SMS campaign could suffer significantly. It may surprise you, but this “freedom of choice” isn’t common in every country. The same applies to the registration of the sender: In many countries a sender advance notification is required – but not in Germany.
You should stick to German-language messages, as they are considered more trustworthy. English SMS or faulty translations are often simply ignored by the recipient.
A personalized salutation also strengthens customer loyalty and gives more confidence to the German, who is always focused on safety. He can now assume that the sender of the message knows him personally. With a professional gateway, you can easily personalize even bulk SMS and send them safely, quickly and reliably.
Since April 2016, social invitations have been blocked by network operator T-Mobile.
SMS to France
All forms of sender IDs are supported in France only under strict conditions. Which of these forms you choose depends on your project.
- numeric IDs: only long, virtual numbers are allowed to avoid identity fraud. Otherwise, numerical senders will be automatically replaced by shortcodes (exception is the network operator LycaMobile, which replaces these with local numbers)
- alphanumeric IDs: depending on the network operator, these are only delivered from Monday till Saturday between 8 am and 8 pm local time. Special characters are not allowed and will either be replaced by an escape sequence or the message will be rejected altogether. Unicode is supported for alphanumeric senders, but not always reliable. If the message contains network names, it will be rejected in principle. The network NRJ overwrites alpha values with a shortcode. Long virtual numbers can successfully bypass these filters.
Also, for Two-Way-Messaging, note that outgoing messages from French long virtual numbers are throttled down by 1 SMS every 2 seconds.
Marketing content must additionally contain “STOP au 36179” at the end of the text message, so that they are not filtered. This implemented opt-out function should give the recipient the possibility to unsubscribe of your contact list at any time. The opt-out is mandatory. Likewise, marketing campaigns aren’t sent on Sundays and public holidays between 8.30 pm and 8 am local time.
If you send an international SMS to France, it’s still essential to translate it into French. The reason: French people don’t like getting messages in English or any other language at all.
SMS to China
In this huge and fast-growing market for mobile messaging, it is not easy to place SMS campaigns due to numerous filters. Cheap routes are sometimes simply rejected, sender IDs filtered and content censored.
- international IDs are replaced by numeric sender.
- The character set length for Unicode is a maximum of 70 characters, for GSM 160 characters. Chains of multiple SMS are supported, but the character set is shortened accordingly.
- Content that falls under the protection of minors or which are politically or religiously ambitious are blocked. To this end, the Chinese government specifies special keywords for filtering. Gambling, education, real estate, migration, finance, healthcare, alcohol and advertising are also prohibited topics.
- Arabic characters are not supported in any of the Chinese networks.
- Binary coding, WAP push messages and chained SMS are not supported, or only partially supported, depending on the routing.
- Duplicate messages can not be sent to the same recipient within one day. A maximum of 10 SMS with different content per day and recipient is allowed.
However, a professional SMS Gateway allows you to use better connections, provided they are registered.
SMS to India
India is a very complex market for international SMS campaigns and has a number of diverse restrictions.
- alphanumeric sender IDs: The pre-registration is mandatory. In addition, the ID must be 6 characters long and transmit at least 25,000 text messages per month. For registration, it’s recommended that you contact a professional provider who offers an appropriate HTTP API.
- Also typical for India is the preposition of two letters to identify sender and gateway: an ID with e.g. “VD-SMS” is transmitted by the network Vodafone and in the region Delhi. “AP-SMS” stands for the network Airtel and the region Punjabi, etc.
- Nevertheeless, a big part of international senders is overwritten to ensure delivery.
- Unregistered IDs will be replaced by a local shortcode.
In addition to the network filters in India there is an NDNC registration, in which all recipients can register. Messages from unregistered IDs to numbers noted in this Do-Not-Call list are automatically blocked. You can check recipient numbers in advance in the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India registry.
Furthermore, official time slots are set for Marketing SMS. Delivery is allowed between 9 am and 9 pm. After that, the messages will end up in a queue until the next day, but will still be charged in full.
Also spam filters are active and block all messages that are sent more than 6 times to the same number within one hour. On the other hand, recipients can rarely receive more than 200 SMS per day via incoming streams.
For political reasons, messages to the Jammu and Kashmir networks are currently blocked by the government in principle.
SMS to Russia
Cheap connections for mobile messaging to Russia are heavily filtered. Even legitimate A2P messages often don’t arrive. Thus, it is strongly recommended to use a provider with direct HTTP API connection and adaptive routing. For this, several routes are constantly being tested and in the event of problems, an alternative connection can be used at short notice, so that all text messages arrive as quickly and reliably as usual.
Since 2013, Russian carriers are filtering numeric shortcodes as well as unregistered sender IDs. To bypass such filters, the IDs are overwritten.
Alphanumeric IDs can be pre-registered if the volume is more than 1 million SMS per month.
Also in terms of content, numerous restrictions apply in Russian networks. Among other social invitations and topics such as gambling are prohibited. SMS containing an URL are usually classified as spam and consequently blocked.
SMS to South Africa
South Africa is a country that is increasingly joining in on the SMS boom and still has a lot of customer potential. Here, however, international sender IDs are usually overwritten with a random, national long code to ensure delivery. Dynamic sender IDs are not possible. Thus marketing campaigns can sometimes be quite difficult to place.
Central Distributor is an independent organization called WASPA, to which all MNOs pass on their regulatory duties.
Parallel, South Africa has an explicit code of conduct on content and message types. In it, it is specified that direct marketing may take place between 8 am and 8 pm on regular days. On weekends and public holidays, direct marketing may take place between 9 am and 1 pm. Exceptions require an explicit agreement between sender and recipient.
Content restrictions concern topics that fall under the protection of minors as well as political and religious topics. Terms like “price” and “profit” should also be avoided. In addition, abuse, spam and phishing are prohibited.
Dedicated phone numbers and so-called shared numbers are generally allowed in South Africa. Unicode, concatenation of messages and DLR are reliably supported.
SMS to Brazil
Brazil has always been quite complicated in terms of SMS campaigns. The reason: The local mobile service providers block international SMS or simply don’t support them. No routing seems to be working properly, let alone being stable. Providers with direct connections and additional adaptive backups still achieve the best possible quality.
Sender IDs are changed to a fixed shortcode or local number to bypass most of the filters.
In terms of content, it looks similarly limited: Marketing, politics and religion are among the inadmissible topics. Unicode and binary forms should be better avoided, because they’re not supported.
Please also note that landline connections are constantly being converted to mobile numbers because of the limitations of the mobile numbering plan. The porting information is updated only once a month, which can cause delays if this information becomes current.
SMS to the USA and Canada
For the USA and Canada, there are very specific SMS restrictions, so a direct connection is needed to ensure transmission to each of the many networks.
Sender IDs must be either a US pre-approved long number or a short code. Alphanumeric IDs are not supported. This should be decided depending on the context of your SMS campaign:
- For P2P, it’s best to choose long virtual numbers. These can be obtained on request from your provider. Binary formats are not supported, Unicode mostly, but not reliable in all networks. Also euro signs and some accents are problematic. In addition, you can send a maximum of 1 SMS per second and per virtual number to the US or Canada. This is determined by the local carriers. Those who send faster will be rejected. If you still need higher throughput, you can use multiple registered senders and split your traffic accordingly. Virtual numbers are limited to approximately 500 messages per day and will be blocked if exceeded. Furhtermore, the operators expect bidirectional traffic. SMS with repetitive URLs and keywords are also blocked by the filters.
- For A2P and bulk SMS its’ recommended to use shortcodes, although the network operators T-Mobile and Sprint filter heavily here. Alternatively, you can send toll-free numbers to the United States via the direct HTTP API. However, US codes can not be used for Canada. Instead, Unicode and binary formats are better supported. Also, there are no limits on maximum throughput for shortcodes and toll free numbers.
Social invitations also seem to be quite difficult, but not officially prohibited. Not so financing offers: these are expressly not allowed for shortcode senders.
SMS to Australia and New Zealand
Australia is an extremely complex SMS market. Numerous filters are pushing the cheap SS7 networks ever further away. A stable and direct API is therefore essential for the successful delivery of SMS. For sender IDs, content and encoding, there are no special restrictions.
In New Zealand, on the other hand, international sender IDs are sometimes replaced by long, virtual numbers to ensure delivery. For purely transactional applications with more than 25,000 SMS per year, it’s advisable to register such a number in advance. Otherwise, IDs are also replaced by local shortcodes. For content is only to note that social invitations are not allowed in New Zealand.
However, these are only a few country-specific tips. Aditionally, you should always check your SMS marketing for current requirements and obligations on the part of the recipient country, so that your international communication does not cause misunderstandings, but only satisfied customers.
Country Sender pre-registration (NOC-form) required? Fee for registering sender ID Network operator Restrictions for sender IDs (for example to bypass national filters) Further restrictions and notes for content, routing etc Albania - Alphanumeric IDs are partially filtered No special restrictions Algeria ✓ - All Local and alphanumeric numbers are partially filtered, numeric numbers are partially replaced No special restrictions Angola - Numeric IDs are partially filtered No special restrictions Argentina - International IDs are replaced by long, dynamic codes Voicecalls are extended with 9, for SMS: country code 54 + 10 digit local number Australia - No special restrictions No special restrictions Austria - Alphanumeric sender only or +43 phone number No special restrictions Azerbaijan - IDs are partially replaced by shortcodes to ensure delivery No special restrictions Bahrain - International IDs are overwritten depending on the route Use providers with adaptive routing, content is heavily censored Bangladesh - Numeric IDs are partially replaced by local numbers International SMS are heavily filtered for spam and keywords, fake DLR Belarus ✓ - All Alphanumeric IDs recommended No special restrictions Belgium ✓ - All 8*** shortcodes, no alphanumeric IDs Obligatory customer opt-in/opt-out, gsm only - no unicode Bosnia & Herzegowina ✓ M-Tel: 21€; Telenor 67€ Mtel Alphanumeric IDs recommended International P2P marketing not allowed on some routes Botswana - International IDs are replaced by shortcode to ensure delivery No special restrictions Brazil - International IDs are often blocked or not supported Routes are unstable, content is censored (marketing, politics, religion), no Unicode Brunei - No special restrictions No special restrictions Bulgaria ✓ - All No special restrictions No special restrictions Cambodia - No special restrictions DLR are often unreliable, use providers with adaptive routing Cameroon ✓ - Nexttel No special restrictions Routes are filtered heavily, no political content, unicode only for Chinese characters Canada ✓ - All Alphanumeric sender IDs are not supported Limited transfer rate, content with financing offers partially prohibited Chad ✓ - All Alphanumeric IDs are recommended, no spaces allowed No special restrictions Chile - International IDs are replaced by random numeric senders International SMS are heavily filtered and censored (politics, adult content), no Unicode China ✓ - All International IDs are replaced by numeric senders SMS are heavily filtered and censored, max. 65 characters unicode, max. 130 characters GSM Colombia - International IDs are replaced by shortcode or local sender Colombian networks do not send DLR Costa Rica ✓ - Claro International IDs are replaced by long sender numbers No special restrictions Croatia ✓ - All Partially no alphanumeric IDs supported Unreliable DLR Cuba ✓ - Cubacel Only alphanumeric sender IDs for A2P Experience shows that only globally known brands are registered, long processing times Cyprus - No special restrictions No special restrictions Czech Republic ✓ 5,00 € All ID is replaced by local shortcode, partially by alphanumeric/numeric number Strong filtering and high interworking fees for international SMS Democratic Republic of the Congo - International IDs are partially replaced by shortcode, depending on the route No special restrictions Denmark - No special restrictions International routes are partially filtered, use providers with direct connection Dominican Republic - ID should be replaced with shortcode to ensure delivery DLR is not supported for some routes Ecuador - IDs are replaced by shortcodes or long, virtual numbers, depending on the routing For some routes <140 characters are not allowed, Unicode is only partially supported, no DLR Egypt ✓ - All International IDs are replaced by shortcode to ensure delivery International SMS are heavily filtered and censored (politics, religion, adult topics) El Salvador ✓ - Claro International IDs are partially replaced by random numeric senders No special restrictions Estonia - No special restrictions International routes are partially filtered, use providers with direct connection Finland - Depending on the route, ID may be replaced by random number Use providers with adaptive routing for best possible transmission quality France - Numeric IDs are partially replaced by shortcode or local number GSM characters are partially downgraded, unicode is largely supported Germany - No special restrictions Spamming and phishing are prohibited Ghana - Sender ID is replaced by shortcode, depending on the route No special restrictions Greece - Depending on the route, ID may be replaced by random number International routes are partially filtered, use providers with direct connection Guatemala ✓ - Claro International IDs are replaced by random numeric senders Often unreliable or fake DLR Haiti ✓ - Natcom No special restrictions No special restrictions Honduras ✓ - Claro No special restrictions Often unreliable routes, fake DLR Hungary - Numeric IDs are recommended High interworking fees, local routes recommended India ✓ - All Partially letters are set in front of ID to identify sender/gateway A2P SMS are only delivered between 9am and 9pm, spam is blocked Indonesien ✓ - All Sender IDs are replaced by alpha values to ensure delivery No unicode, contents are filtered by keywords, unreliable DLR Iran - Numeric IDs are recommended Content is heavily censored (politics, religion, adult topics), unreliable DLR Iraq - Different filters depending on route, IDs are partially replaced No brackets, partially unreliable or no DLR Ireland - No special restrictions International routes are heavily filtered, use providers with direct connection Israel - Dynamic IDs are partially replaced by random numeric senders Unreliable DLR, sms can not be sent to numbers registered as „kosher“ Italy ✓ - All Company name in sender ID must be your own No special restrictions Ivory Coast - Use of a shortcode is recommended for the network „Orange“ No special restrictions Japan - Different filters depending on route, IDs are partially replaced Locally illegal content is blocked, unicode only with Japanese characters Jordan ✓ - All IDs are set to „verify“ or „sms“ depending on the routing Spam filters partially block A2P and deliver false DLR, adult content prohibited Kasakhstan ✓ Tele2 & Altel: 33€, other: free All ID is replaced to ensure delivery depending on the route No special restrictions Kenya ✓ - Safaricom Safaricom overwrites all senders with fixed alpha values Contact your provider in advance, especially for 2FA; unreliable DLR Kuwait ✓ - All Alphanumeric IDs are replaced by random international senders Unreliable or no DLR Laos ✓ - Star Telecom No special restrictions Unreliable DLR Latvia - No special restrictions Identical SMS sent to the same number within 5 minutes are blocked as spam Lebanon ✓ - All Numeric IDs are blocked Content is heavily censored (politics, religion, adult topics) Lithuania - Alphanumeric IDs must be registered No special restrictions Madagascar - Alphanumeric and some numeric IDs are partially blocked No special restrictions Malawi - Due to unstable routes the sender ID is changed to „SMS“ No special restrictions Malaysia - Sender IDs are replaced by random local numbers/shortcodes Spam filters partially block A2P and deliver false DLR, content is censored Mali - Alphanumeric IDs and shortcodes are partially filtered No special restrictions Malta - No special restrictions No special restrictions Mauritius ✓ - Mauritius Telecom No special restrictions No special restrictions Mexico ✓ - Telcel International IDs are replaced by random numeric IDs/shortcodes Marketing SMS are filtered, content is heavily censored (politics, religion, adult content) Monaco - Alphanumeric IDs and shortcodes are filtered No special restrictions Mongolia - Sender IDs are replaced by international number No special restrictions Morocco ✓ - All International IDs are replaced by specific senders No special restrictions Mozambique ✓ - Movitel International IDs are replaced by numeric senders No special restrictions Myanmar ✓ - Mytel IDs are replaced by local or international numeric senders OTP message content may be changed to ensure delivery Namibia - International IDs are replaced by local shortcode No special restrictions Nepal ✓ - Mero Mobile No special restrictions No social invitations allowed Netherlands ✓ - All No special restrictions No special restrictions New Zealand - International IDs are partially replaced by long virtual numbers or local shortcode to ensure delivery Social invitations are prohibited Nicaragua ✓ - Claro No special restrictions No special restrictions Niger - No special restrictions Content is partially censored (political, adult content) Nigeria ✓ - All Alphanumeric IDs recommended No special restrictions North Macedonia - Alphanumeric IDs & shortcodes are partially replaced by random number No special restrictions Norway - No special restrictions International routes are partially filtered, use providers with direct connection Oman ✓ - All International IDs are partially replaced to ensure delivery A2P is partially filtered depending on the route, unicode is not recommended Pakistan ✓ - All International IDs are replaced to ensure delivery Content is heavily censored (politics, marketing) Palestine ✓ - Jawwal International IDs are partially replaced to ensure delivery Content is heavily censored (politics, religion, adult topics) Panama ✓ - Claro Shortcodes are partially filtered, international numeric IDs are recommended No special restrictions Papua New Guinea - No spaces in dynamic IDs allowed No special restrictions Paraguay - International IDs are replaced by random numeric IDs/shortcodes DLR is not supported or fake Peru - International IDs are partially replaced to ensure delivery No special restrictions Philippines ✓ - All No generic or numeric sender IDs allowed Spam filter; fake DLR, heavily limited character sets, contents are censored Poland - Numeric IDs are partially filtered, company names blocked SMS with premium/speed dial number are blocked for A2P, gambling content is prohibited Portugal - No shortcodes allowed Numerical IDs from Russia are filtered, some senders are blocked locally Qatar ✓ - All International IDs are partially replaced, generic IDs not allowed Content is heavily censored (politics, religion, adult topics) Republic of the Congo - International IDs are partially replaced by shortcode, depending on the route No special restrictions Romania 375,00 € Alphanumeric IDs are supported only partially Identical SMS sent to the same number within 5 minutes are blocked as spam Russia ✓ 20€ per network and month All Numeric IDs and shortcode are replaced International routes are heavily filtered, use providers with adaptive connection Rwanda - No special restrictions No special restrictions Saudi Arabia ✓ - All International IDs are partially overwritten, numeric IDs with >11 characters are blocked Spam filters, unstable routes, content is censored (politics, religion, adult topics) Senegal - No special restrictions No special restrictions Serbia - Numeric IDs are partially filtered No special restrictions Singapore - International IDs are partially replaced to ensure delivery Advertising financial loans is strictly prohibited, DNC register (do not call) since 2014 Slovakia ✓ - O2 Numeric IDs are partially filtered No special restrictions Slowenien - Numeric IDs are partially replaced No special restrictions Somalia - No special restrictions No special restrictions South Africa - International IDs are replaced by local numbers Content is heavily censored (politics, religion, adult topics) South Corea - Only numeric IDs allowed, alphanumeric IDs are replaced by global numeric IDs Chinese and binary characters not supported, content is censored South Sudan - Numeric IDs are blocked, depending on routing No special restrictions Spain - No special restrictions No special restrictions Sri Lanka ✓ - Dialog International IDs are partially replaced by fixed alpha values No special restrictions Sudan - Numeric IDs are blocked, depending on routing No special restrictions Sweden - No special restrictions No special restrictions Switzerland - No special restrictions No special restrictions Syria ✓ - SyriaTel Alphanumeric IDs and shortcodes are filtered and should be replaced Due to national situation, delivery can not be guaranteed Taiwan - International IDs are partially replaced by random local numbers Character sets are slightly limited, unicode is supported; unreliable DLR Tanzania ✓ - All International IDs are partially overwritten to ensure delivery No special restrictions Thailand ✓ - All International IDs are partially replaced to ensure delivery No special restrictions Tunesien - Alphanumerische IDS werden durch zufälligen numerischen Absender ersetzt Keine speziellen Beschränkungen Turkey ✓ - All International IDs are partially replaced to ensure delivery Content is censored/must be preceded by letters Turkmenistan - Alphanumeric IDs for outgoing SMS are overwritten Network operator MTS Turkmenistan is currently blocked for international SMS Ukraine ✓ - Astelit IDs are replaced by local numeric senders No special restrictions United Arab Emirates ✓ - All International IDs are partially replaced to ensure delivery Content is censored (politics, religion, adult content) United Kingdom - Spaces in dynamic IDs are not allowed Spamming and phishing are prohibited United States ✓ - All Alphanumeric sender IDs are not supported Limited transfer rate, content with financing offers partially prohibited Uruguay - International IDs are partially replaced to ensure delivery No special restrictions Venezuela - International IDs are replaced by shortcode or local sender DLR and in part Unicode are not supported, delivery delays at peak times (Friday) Vietnam ✓ 8€ reg fee, 8 € monthly fee, 34€ monthly for banking All Very different filters depending on the route, IDs are partially replaced Unreliable or no DLR Yemen - Local numeric numbers are partially filtered or replaced by random numbers Unreliable DLR Zambia - No special restrictions Partially unreliable DLR Zimbabwe - Numeric IDs can have max. 11 characters No special restrictions
In addition, you can find the entire list as a PDF for download here.