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Programmable Messaging PHP Quickstart

Ahoy there! All messaging transmitted using Twilio’s messaging channels is treated as Application-to-Person (A2P) messaging and subject to Twilio’s Messaging Policy. For detailed information on policy rules to ensure you remain compliant while using Twilio’s services, please see our Acceptable Use Policy.

In a few lines of code, your PHP application can send, receive, and reply to text messages with Twilio Programmable SMS.

This PHP SMS Quickstart shows you how to use our Communications REST API, the Twilio CLI, and the Twilio PHP helper library.

We’ll use the package manager Composer to manage our product dependencies. If you don’t want to use Composer, no problem — we also have a separate non-Composer PHP SMS Quickstart.

In this Quickstart, you’ll learn how to:

  1. Sign up for Twilio and purchase an SMS-enabled phone number.
  2. Check and install any prerequisites using Composer.
  3. Send your first SMS.
  4. Set up your development environment to send and receive messages.
  5. Receive inbound text messages.
  6. Reply to incoming messages with a return SMS.
I'm in. Show me how!

Sign up — or into — Twilio

Already have a Twilio account? Go ahead and skip this section.

If you are sending SMS to the U.S. or Canada, before proceeding further please be aware of updated restrictions on the use of Toll-Free numbers for messaging, including TF numbers obtained through Free Trial. Please click here for details.

You can sign up for a free Twilio trial account here.

  • When you sign up, you'll be asked to verify your personal phone number. This helps Twilio verify your identity and also allows you to send test messages to your phone from your Twilio account while in trial mode.
  • Once you verify your number, you'll be asked a series of questions to customize your experience.
  • Once you finish the onboarding flow, you'll arrive at your project dashboard in the Twilio Console. This is where you'll be able to access your Account SID, authentication token, find a Twilio phone number, and more.

If you don't currently own a Twilio phone number with SMS functionality, you'll need to purchase one. After navigating to the Buy a Number page, check the SMS box and click Search.

Buy a twilio phone number.png

You’ll then see a list of available phone numbers and their capabilities. Find a number that suits your fancy and click Buy to add it to your account.

Select an SMS-enabled phone number

I've got an account! What's next?

Install the Twilio CLI

We’ll need to use the Twilio CLI (command line interface) for a few tasks, so let’s install that now.

The suggested way to install twilio-cli on macOS is to use Homebrew. If you don’t already have it installed, visit the Homebrew site for installation instructions and then return here.

Once you have installed Homebrew, run the following command to install twilio-cli:

brew tap twilio/brew && brew install twilio

The suggested way to install twilio-cli is by using Scoop, a command-line installer for Windows. If you don’t already have it installed, visit the Scoop site for installation instructions and then return here.

Note PowerShell will need to be run as an administrator to avoid common permission issues when installing via Scoop.

  1. Add the twilio-cli Bucket:
    scoop bucket add twilio-scoop
  2. Install the app:
    scoop install twilio​

twilio-cli can be installed using the Advanced Package Tool (apt) on most distributions such as Debian, Ubuntu, and Mint.

To do so, run the following commands in your terminal:

wget -qO- \
  | sudo apt-key add -
sudo touch /etc/apt/sources.list.d/twilio.list
echo 'deb /' \
  | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/twilio.list
sudo apt update
sudo apt install -y twilio

For other installation methods, see the Twilio CLI Quickstart.

Log in to the Twilio CLI

Run twilio login to get the Twilio CLI connected to your account. Visit the Twilio Console, and under Account Info, you’ll find your unique Account SID and Auth Token to provide to the CLI.

Next, we need to install PHP and the Twilio PHP Helper Library.

Sounds excellent! Take me through the install.

Install PHP and the Twilio PHP Helper Library

If you already have PHP and the Twilio PHP Helper Library installed in your working directory, feel free to skip this step and move on to sending your first text message.

To send your first SMS, let's make sure you’re set up with PHP and able to install Twilio’s PHP Helper library. When doing web development in PHP, we strongly suggest using Composer for package management. This Quickstart relies on Composer to install the PHP Helper library. If you choose not to use Composer, please visit our non-Composer PHP SMS Quickstart.

Install PHP

If you’re using a Mac or *nix machine, you may have PHP already installed. In your favorite terminal, run:

php --version

If it is not installed, follow the PHP installation instructions.

If you’re using a Windows machine, please follow the official PHP tutorial to install PHP.

While many versions of PHP 5.x and PHP 7.x will work for this Quickstart, please pay attention to supported PHP releases. Always update un-supported versions when doing web development, as older versions will not receive security updates.

Install Composer

Composer is the de facto standard package manager for PHP web development. If you haven’t yet installed it, here are the installation instructions for your platform:

If you’d prefer to install dependencies manually, check out our non-Composer PHP SMS Quickstart.

Install the Twilio PHP Helper Library

We need to install the Twilio PHP Helper Library in the directory where you will complete the Quickstart. If you are using Composer, there are two ways to do this.

First, from a terminal, you can run the following command:

composer require twilio/sdk

Alternatively, you can create a file named composer.json and then add the following to it:

    "require": {
        "twilio/sdk": "^5.0"

Then run

composer install

And composer will grab the latest version of the Twilio PHP Helper Library.

Finally, for a non-composer installation follow the instructions here. You’ll also need to change the code samples as they appear in this Quickstart as shown in those instructions.

Prerequisites are done! Let's send an SMS.

Send an outbound SMS with PHP

Now that we have PHP, Composer, and twilio-php installed, we can make a single API request and send an outbound text message from our Twilio phone number. Create and open a new file called send_sms.php and type or paste in this code sample.

Loading Code Sample...
        Edit your Account Sid, Auth Token, and change the Twilio Number to a SMS-capable Twilio phone number to send an SMS with PHP.

        Send an SMS in PHP

        Edit your Account Sid, Auth Token, and change the Twilio Number to a SMS-capable Twilio phone number to send an SMS with PHP.

        Replace the placeholder Twilio credentials

        Swap the placeholders in account_sid and auth_token with your personal Twilio credentials. Replace the values for account_sid and auth_token with your unique values.

        While it’s easier to hardcode your credentials in a file for this quickstart, you should use environment variables to keep them secret in production. Check out how to set environment variables for more information, and see the code comments for an example of how to read them in PHP. This repo is also an excellent resource for dealing with environment variables.

        Replace the twilio_number phone number

        Earlier, you purchased an SMS-enabled phone number. Paste that number into the twilio_number variable using E.164 formatting:

        [+][country code][phone number including area code]

        Replace the ‘To’ number in the create() call

        The first value in the call to create() is the outgoing phone number, currently set to +15558675310. This can be any phone number that can receive text messages, but you should use a number you control first to witness the magic! As above, use E.164 formatting for this number.

        Save the file then run the script:

        php send_sms.php

        Boom! Assuming all the values are correct, you should already see the SMS from your Twilio number on your phone.

        Are your customers in the US or Canada? You can also send them MMS messages by adding just one line of code. Check out this guide to sending MMS to see how to do it.

        If you are on a Twilio Trial account, your outgoing SMS messages are limited to phone numbers that you have verified with Twilio. Phone numbers can be verified via your Twilio Console’s Verified Caller IDs.

        That SMS was magical! What’s next?

        Receive and reply to inbound SMS messages with PHP

        When someone sends an SMS to your Twilio phone number, Twilio makes an HTTP POST request to your server asking for instructions on what to do next. For this Quickstart, we’ll reply to the sender with a note about how we're sending our SMS reply.

        We’ll again use the Twilio PHP Library, then use PHP’s built-in development webserver in combination with ngrok to instruct Twilio how to handle the message. Create a new file reply_sms.php in the same directory as send_sms.php, open it, then copy and paste or type the following code.

        If you’re not using the same directory as before, please follow the PHP Helper Library install step above.

        Loading Code Sample...
              Demonstrates using the Twilio PHP Helper Library to receive an SMS and send one in reply from your application.

              Receive and Reply to an SMS in PHP

              Demonstrates using the Twilio PHP Helper Library to receive an SMS and send one in reply from your application.

              Save the file, then start the PHP development server with:

              php -S localhost:8000

              In your favorite browser, open the URL http://localhost:8000/reply_sms.php.

              If all went well, you should see TwiML in your browser with the message we’d like to reply with to all our inbound texts. And, yes, that’s all the code you need. But there’s just one more step you need to perform before everything is wired up.

              I'm getting excited now — let's connect our PHP to Twilio!

              If you don't already have ngrok downloaded and configured, follow these instructions to do so.

              Configure ngrok and your webhook URL

              We'll use ngrok to set up a tunnel from the public internet to your localhost. This will let us use a public URL as the webhook for your application.

              First, download and configure ngrok.

              Next, run this command to have ngrok set up a tunnel to your localhost:

              ngrok http 8000

              This will start an ngrok tunnel. Copy down the Forwarding URL that ends with

              Then, you need to configure your Twilio phone number to call your webhook URL whenever a new message comes in:

              1. Go to Phone Numbers > Active Numbers in the Twilio Console.
              2. Select the SMS-enabled Twilio number you want to use.
              3. For the A MESSAGE COMES IN webhook, enter the ngrok URL you copied down earlier. Append /reply_sms.php to the end of the URL.

              Test your application with a text

              Now that everything is glued together, it’s time to test.

              Send a text message from your mobile phone to your Twilio phone number. You’ll see a couple of things happen very quickly:

              1. Your PHP dev server will note a new connection.
              2. Twilio will forward your response back as an SMS!
              It worked! All done — what's next?

              Next steps

              Now that you know the basics of sending and receiving SMS and MMS text messages with PHP, you might want to check out these resources:

              We hope you enjoyed the quickstart, and definitely can’t wait to see what you build!

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              Need some help?

              We all do sometimes; code is hard. Get help now from our support team, or lean on the wisdom of the crowd by visiting Twilio's Stack Overflow Collective or browsing the Twilio tag on Stack Overflow.

              Loading Code Sample...

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