International communication – these country-specific rules should be observed in your SMS campaign

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.

CountrySender pre-registration (NOC-form) required?Fee for registering sender IDNetwork operatorRestrictions for sender IDs (for example to bypass national filters)Further restrictions and notes for content, routing etc
Albania-Alphanumeric IDs are partially filteredNo special restrictions
Algeria-AllLocal and alphanumeric numbers are partially filtered, numeric numbers are partially replacedNo special restrictions
Angola-Numeric IDs are partially filteredNo special restrictions
Argentina-International IDs are replaced by long, dynamic codesVoicecalls are extended with 9, for SMS: country code 54 + 10 digit local number
Australia-No special restrictionsNo special restrictions
Austria-Numeric IDs are partially filteredNo special restrictions
Azerbaijan-IDs are partially replaced by shortcodes to ensure deliveryNo special restrictions
Bahrain-International IDs are overwritten depending on the routeUse providers with adaptive routing, content is heavily censored
Bangladesh-Numeric IDs are partially replaced by local numbersInternational SMS are heavily filtered for spam and keywords, fake DLR
Belarus-AllAlphanumeric IDs recommendedNo special restrictions
Belgium-All8*** shortcodes, no alphanumeric IDsObligatory customer opt-in/opt-out, gsm only - no unicode
Bosnia & HerzegowinaM-Tel: 21€; Telenor 67€MtelAlphanumeric IDs recommendedInternational P2P marketing not allowed on some routes
Botswana-International IDs are replaced by shortcode to ensure deliveryNo special restrictions
Brazil-International IDs are often blocked or not supportedRoutes are unstable, content is censored (marketing, politics, religion), no Unicode
Brunei-No special restrictionsNo special restrictions
Bulgaria-AllNo special restrictionsNo special restrictions
Cambodia-No special restrictionsDLR are often unreliable, use providers with adaptive routing
Cameroon-NexttelNo special restrictionsRoutes are filtered heavily, no political content, unicode only for Chinese characters
Canada-AllAlphanumeric sender IDs are not supportedLimited transfer rate, content with financing offers partially prohibited
Chad-AllAlphanumeric IDs are recommended, no spaces allowedNo special restrictions
Chile-International IDs are replaced by random numeric sendersInternational SMS are heavily filtered and censored (politics, adult content), no Unicode
China-AllInternational IDs are replaced by numeric sendersSMS are heavily filtered and censored, max. 65 characters unicode, max. 130 characters GSM
Colombia-International IDs are replaced by shortcode or local senderColombian networks do not send DLR
Costa Rica-ClaroInternational IDs are replaced by long sender numbersNo special restrictions
Croatia-AllPartially no alphanumeric IDs supportedUnreliable DLR
Cuba-CubacelOnly alphanumeric sender IDs for A2PExperience shows that only globally known brands are registered, long processing times
Cyprus-No special restrictionsNo special restrictions
Czech Republic5,00 €AllID is replaced by local shortcode, partially by alphanumeric/numeric numberStrong filtering and high interworking fees for international SMS
Democratic Republic of the Congo-International IDs are partially replaced by shortcode, depending on the routeNo special restrictions
Denmark-No special restrictionsInternational routes are partially filtered, use providers with direct connection
Dominican Republic-ID should be replaced with shortcode to ensure deliveryDLR is not supported for some routes
Ecuador-IDs are replaced by shortcodes or long, virtual numbers, depending on the routingFor some routes <140 characters are not allowed, Unicode is only partially supported, no DLR
Egypt-AllInternational IDs are replaced by shortcode to ensure deliveryInternational SMS are heavily filtered and censored (politics, religion, adult topics)
El Salvador-ClaroInternational IDs are partially replaced by random numeric sendersNo special restrictions
Estonia-No special restrictionsInternational routes are partially filtered, use providers with direct connection
Finland-Depending on the route, ID may be replaced by random numberUse providers with adaptive routing for best possible transmission quality
France-Numeric IDs are partially replaced by shortcode or local numberGSM characters are partially downgraded, unicode is largely supported
Germany-No special restrictionsSpamming and phishing are prohibited
Ghana-Sender ID is replaced by shortcode, depending on the routeNo special restrictions
Greece-Depending on the route, ID may be replaced by random numberInternational routes are partially filtered, use providers with direct connection
Guatemala-ClaroInternational IDs are replaced by random numeric sendersOften unreliable or fake DLR
Haiti-NatcomNo special restrictionsNo special restrictions
Honduras-ClaroNo special restrictionsOften unreliable routes, fake DLR
Hungary-Numeric IDs are recommendedHigh interworking fees, local routes recommended
India-AllPartially letters are set in front of ID to identify sender/gatewayA2P SMS are only delivered between 9am and 9pm, spam is blocked
Indonesien-AllSender IDs are replaced by alpha values to ensure deliveryNo unicode, contents are filtered by keywords, unreliable DLR
Iran-Numeric IDs are recommendedContent is heavily censored (politics, religion, adult topics), unreliable DLR
Iraq-Different filters depending on route, IDs are partially replacedNo brackets, partially unreliable or no DLR
Ireland-No special restrictionsInternational routes are heavily filtered, use providers with direct connection
Israel-Dynamic IDs are partially replaced by random numeric sendersUnreliable DLR, sms can not be sent to numbers registered as „kosher“
Italy-AllCompany name in sender ID must be your ownNo 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 replacedLocally illegal content is blocked, unicode only with Japanese characters
Jordan-AllIDs are set to „verify“ or „sms“ depending on the routingSpam filters partially block A2P and deliver false DLR, adult content prohibited
KasakhstanTele2 & Altel: 33€, other: freeAllID is replaced to ensure delivery depending on the routeNo special restrictions
Kenya-SafaricomSafaricom overwrites all senders with fixed alpha valuesContact your provider in advance, especially for 2FA; unreliable DLR
Kuwait-AllAlphanumeric IDs are replaced by random international sendersUnreliable or no DLR
Laos-Star TelecomNo special restrictionsUnreliable DLR
Latvia-No special restrictionsIdentical SMS sent to the same number within 5 minutes are blocked as spam
Lebanon-AllNumeric IDs are blockedContent is heavily censored (politics, religion, adult topics)
Lithuania-Alphanumeric IDs must be registeredNo special restrictions
Madagascar-Alphanumeric and some numeric IDs are partially blockedNo 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/shortcodesSpam filters partially block A2P and deliver false DLR, content is censored
Mali-Alphanumeric IDs and shortcodes are partially filteredNo special restrictions
Malta-No special restrictionsNo special restrictions
Mauritius-Mauritius TelecomNo special restrictionsNo special restrictions
Mexico-TelcelInternational IDs are replaced by random numeric IDs/shortcodesMarketing SMS are filtered, content is heavily censored (politics, religion, adult content)
Monaco-Alphanumeric IDs and shortcodes are filteredNo special restrictions
Mongolia-Sender IDs are replaced by international numberNo special restrictions
Morocco-AllInternational IDs are replaced by specific sendersNo special restrictions
Mozambique-MovitelInternational IDs are replaced by numeric sendersNo special restrictions
Myanmar-MytelIDs are replaced by local or international numeric sendersOTP message content may be changed to ensure delivery
Namibia-International IDs are replaced by local shortcodeNo special restrictions
Nepal-Mero MobileNo special restrictionsNo social invitations allowed
Netherlands-AllNo special restrictionsNo special restrictions
New Zealand-International IDs are partially replaced by long virtual numbers or local shortcode to ensure deliverySocial invitations are prohibited
Nicaragua-ClaroNo special restrictionsNo special restrictions
Niger-No special restrictionsContent is partially censored (political, adult content)
Nigeria-AllAlphanumeric IDs recommendedNo special restrictions
North Macedonia-Alphanumeric IDs & shortcodes are partially replaced by random numberNo special restrictions
Norway-No special restrictionsInternational routes are partially filtered, use providers with direct connection
Oman-AllInternational IDs are partially replaced to ensure deliveryA2P is partially filtered depending on the route, unicode is not recommended
Pakistan-AllInternational IDs are replaced to ensure deliveryContent is heavily censored (politics, marketing)
Palestine-JawwalInternational IDs are partially replaced to ensure deliveryContent is heavily censored (politics, religion, adult topics)
Panama-ClaroShortcodes are partially filtered, international numeric IDs are recommendedNo special restrictions
Papua New Guinea-No spaces in dynamic IDs allowedNo special restrictions
Paraguay-International IDs are replaced by random numeric IDs/shortcodesDLR is not supported or fake
Peru-International IDs are partially replaced to ensure deliveryNo special restrictions
Philippines-AllNo generic or numeric sender IDs allowedSpam filter; fake DLR, heavily limited character sets, contents are censored
Poland-Numeric IDs are partially filtered, company names blockedSMS with premium/speed dial number are blocked for A2P, gambling content is prohibited
Portugal-No shortcodes allowedNumerical IDs from Russia are filtered, some senders are blocked locally
Qatar-AllInternational IDs are partially replaced, generic IDs not allowedContent is heavily censored (politics, religion, adult topics)
Republic of the Congo-International IDs are partially replaced by shortcode, depending on the routeNo special restrictions
Romania375,00 €Alphanumeric IDs are supported only partiallyIdentical SMS sent to the same number within 5 minutes are blocked as spam
Russia20€ per network and monthAllNumeric IDs and shortcode are replacedInternational routes are heavily filtered, use providers with adaptive connection
Rwanda-No special restrictionsNo special restrictions
Saudi Arabia-AllInternational IDs are partially overwritten, numeric IDs with >11 characters are blockedSpam filters, unstable routes, content is censored (politics, religion, adult topics)
Senegal-No special restrictionsNo special restrictions
Serbia-Numeric IDs are partially filteredNo special restrictions
Singapore-International IDs are partially replaced to ensure deliveryAdvertising financial loans is strictly prohibited, DNC register (do not call) since 2014
Slovakia-O2Numeric IDs are partially filteredNo special restrictions
Slowenien-Numeric IDs are partially replacedNo special restrictions
Somalia-No special restrictionsNo special restrictions
South Africa-International IDs are replaced by local numbersContent is heavily censored (politics, religion, adult topics)
South Corea-Only numeric IDs allowed, alphanumeric IDs are replaced by global numeric IDsChinese and binary characters not supported, content is censored
South Sudan-Numeric IDs are blocked, depending on routingNo special restrictions
Spain-No special restrictionsNo special restrictions
Sri Lanka-DialogInternational IDs are partially replaced by fixed alpha valuesNo special restrictions
Sudan-Numeric IDs are blocked, depending on routingNo special restrictions
Sweden-No special restrictionsNo special restrictions
Switzerland-No special restrictionsNo special restrictions
Syria-SyriaTelAlphanumeric IDs and shortcodes are filtered and should be replacedDue to national situation, delivery can not be guaranteed
Taiwan-International IDs are partially replaced by random local numbersCharacter sets are slightly limited, unicode is supported; unreliable DLR
Tanzania-AllInternational IDs are partially overwritten to ensure deliveryNo special restrictions
Thailand-AllInternational IDs are partially replaced to ensure deliveryNo special restrictions
Tunesien-Alphanumerische IDS werden durch zufälligen numerischen Absender ersetztKeine speziellen Beschränkungen
Turkey-AllInternational IDs are partially replaced to ensure deliveryContent is censored/must be preceded by letters
Turkmenistan-Alphanumeric IDs for outgoing SMS are overwrittenNetwork operator MTS Turkmenistan is currently blocked for international SMS
Ukraine-AstelitIDs are replaced by local numeric sendersNo special restrictions
United Arab Emirates-AllInternational IDs are partially replaced to ensure deliveryContent is censored (politics, religion, adult content)
United Kingdom-Spaces in dynamic IDs are not allowedSpamming and phishing are prohibited
United States-AllAlphanumeric sender IDs are not supportedLimited transfer rate, content with financing offers partially prohibited
Uruguay-International IDs are partially replaced to ensure deliveryNo special restrictions
Venezuela-International IDs are replaced by shortcode or local senderDLR and in part Unicode are not supported, delivery delays at peak times (Friday)
Vietnam8€ reg fee, 8 € monthly fee, 34€ monthly for bankingAllVery different filters depending on the route, IDs are partially replacedUnreliable or no DLR
Yemen-Local numeric numbers are partially filtered or replaced by random numbersUnreliable DLR
Zambia-No special restrictionsPartially unreliable DLR
Zimbabwe-Numeric IDs can have max. 11 charactersNo special restrictions

In addition, you can find the entire list as a PDF for download here.

Summary: Our clues for international SMS campaigns

  • Sender ID

    Pay attention to which formats (numeric and/or alphanumeric or dynamic) are allowed. Which special features – such as no spaces – must be considered?

  • Inbound SMS

    If possible, use virtual or physical numbers as sender ID. If needed, you can implement a return channel for feedback etc. in parallel, thus optimizing your service.

  • Opt-in & Opt-out

    Take into account the respective regulations for subscription and unsubscription functions. These are usually enshrined in law. Irrespective of this, however, you should always give your customers the option of subscribing to your distribution list or, if desired, to unsubscribe. This promotes the image of your company and makes your offer more serious.

  • Time window

    In some countries it is common, sometimes even a requirement, to observe certain times for direct marketing. These are usually weekdays between morning and evening. Other times may be disruptive for customers and will ultimately throw a bad light on your campaign.

  • Trust

    Gain the trust of your customers by speaking their language. That means, translate your message into the language of the recipients, but also pay attention to age, gender and other specific characteristics. A personalized salutation also builds customer proximity.

  • Contents

    Watch out for censorships. What contents are prohibited in the country of your recipient? Spamming, phishing, and misusing marketing would only hurt your business anyway.

Best regards

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