If you're sending SMS messages from Twilio to phone numbers in the United States, you might have heard of A2P 10DLC. What you might not have heard is if you need to register for it and how to do so.
This post will cover what A2P 10DLC is, when you’ll need to register your numbers, and what you can do to send text messages to people in the United States.
Background on A2P 10DLC
Before we jump into whether you need to register for A2P 10DLC as an individual, let's break down what A2P 10DLC means and why it was created.
What does A2P mean?
Application to Person (A2P) messaging is any SMS or MMS traffic in which a person is receiving messages from an application rather than another individual.
US telecom carriers consider any messages sent from a Twilio number (or any other messaging provider) to be application to person. Learn more in this glossary article about A2P.
Traffic sent from an individual person to another person is called Person to Person (P2P) traffic.
What does 10DLC mean?
10DLC stands for 10 Digit Long Code. A 10DLC phone number contains 10 digits, and is also called a local phone number. When you are buying a US phone number from Twilio, 10DLC numbers have "Local" as their Type.
You might also hear 10DLC numbers called 10DLC "routes".
10DLC numbers aren't the only way to send text messages to people in the US. You can also use Toll-Free numbers and shortcodes to send messages. Learn more in this article comparing the three different types of phone numbers.
Why was the A2P 10DLC registration process created?
10 digit long code numbers in the US were originally designed for Person to Person (P2P) communication. These routes were unregulated and in recent years have started seeing abuse from spam applications and unsolicited messaging.
Due to the increase in spam messages, many consumers have lost trust in SMS as a form of communication. A2P 10DLC is the standard that carriers have implemented in the US to regulate this communication pathway.
A2P 10DLC improves the consumer experience by ensuring that people can opt in and out of messaging and know who is sending them messages. It also benefits businesses, offering them higher messaging throughput, brand awareness, and accountability.
Even if you are only sending a few test messages to someone in the US over a 10DLC number, you will need to register for A2P 10DLC. Carriers care strongly that consumers trust SMS traffic and do not receive unsolicited messages from applications. They will be filtering or blocking A2P messages over 10DLC numbers that are not registered and verified.
What should I do if I'm an individual sending SMS messages to people in the US?
If you want to send messages to people in the US over a 10DLC phone number, you will need to register for A2P 10DLC to avoid fees for unregistered messages and filtering or blocking from US carriers. If you are an individual without a business tax ID, however, Twilio does not yet offer an option for registering for A2P through our platform. This Sole Proprietorship option will be coming in early 2023.
Twilio paused Sole Proprietorship registrations after recent changes in industry requirements for individuals. Learn more about the changes and what Twilio is doing here.
There are other types of phone numbers you can use to send messages to US end-users that don't require registering for A2P 10DLC. Twilio offers Toll-Free and shortcode numbers, both of which can be used to send messages to the US. You can see a comparison of 10DLC, Toll-Free, and shortcode numbers in this support article.
If you are an individual who wants to send fewer than 2,000 SMS segments a day to the US, a Toll-Free number would work well for your use case. You can purchase a Toll-Free number from the Twilio Console, Twilio API, or Twilio CLI. You do not need to register Toll-Free numbers for A2P 10DLC.
If you are an individual with a business use case for messaging, you can also apply for a free EIN with the IRS. This would allow you to register for an A2P Low-Volume Standard or Standard Brand. You can learn more about the A2P 10DLC registration process and different options in this overview.
Next steps for individuals using Twilio for messaging
Before A2P 10DLC registration is available for individuals via Twilio in early 2023, you can continue messaging US end-users with Toll-Free numbers. We will publish more information when A2P 10DLC Sole Proprietorship registration becomes available through Twilio.
If you’re just getting started with Twilio for messaging, you can check out these tutorials:
- No-code tutorial: How to reply to an incoming message using Twilio Studio
- Send and receive messages with Twilio Helper Libraries
- Send your first text message using the Twilio CLI
Sarah Stringer is a Developer Educator at Twilio. She loves helping people discover what ideas they can turn into reality with Twilio's products. When she's not writing docs or building demo apps, she's probably listening to podcasts and knitting.