Industry standards for opt-ins for Canada short codes

Per Twilio’s Acceptable Use Policy, your company is required to comply with the wireless carrier compliance rules, industry standards, as well as applicable law, in the use of any Twilio-provided short code.  One key compliance requirement is ensuring that the recipients of your text messages (your recipients) have expressly consented or “opted-in” to receiving text messages as part of your campaign.  The industry standards for Canada short code advertisements and opt-ins can be found on the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) website found here.  As a courtesy, below are some examples of Canada short code advertisements and opt-in message flows.

Please note that the character limit for Canada short code SMS is 136 characters. Messages with more than 136 characters will not be delivered.

Canada Short Code Advertisements (also known as “Call to Action” or CTA).

The wording of your short code advertisement (also known as a Call to Action, or CTA) will vary depending on the sign-up method, since it tells your recipients how to opt into a short code campaign. An SMS Keyword Call to Action, for example, might look like this:

Text {Keyword} to ##### to sign up for alerts.

Standard message and data rates may apply. {Message frequency}. Text HELP to ##### for help. Text STOP to ##### to cancel. For terms: {URL to SMS terms of service}. For privacy: {URL to privacy policy}

Your website should also display a mailing address for your business.

Keep the following points in mind when writing your Call to Action:

  • Message frequency must be specific, for example: “1 message/day” or “4 messages/month.” If the message frequency will vary, it must be user-prompted (for example, “1 message/user request”). Note: the abbreviation “msgs” is not accepted; please use “msg” instead.
  • You should have a privacy policy that applies to and addresses your text messaging campaign.  It should include an accurate description of your campaign and how you will handle data in connection with that campaign.  You should make that privacy policy accessible from your CTA and the privacy policy link should be labeled clearly. You should consult with your legal counsel to ensure that your privacy policy includes all legally-required notices with respect to your campaign.
  • You should also link to the terms and conditions that apply to your text messaging campaign in your CTA.  The terms should be provide accurate information details about your text messaging campaign and how it will work.  You should consult with your legal counsel to ensure that the terms and conditions provide the proper disclosures with respect to your particular campaign.
  • The words “HELP” and “STOP” must appear in bold.
  • Depending on the nature of your text messaging campaign, your CTA may require additional language to be compliant with applicable law.

Opt-Ins

Recipients can opt into a short code several ways: by sending a text message or opting in from a mobile app (Handset Opt-In); or by signing up on a web site, filling out a paper form, making a verbal agreement, or otherwise opting in without using a handset (Non-Handset Opt-in). In each case, the campaign’s opt-in message flow must meet certain compliance standards set by the law, wireless carriers, and industry standards. The industry standards can be found at here.  As a courtesy, we’ve provided examples below.

Handset Opt-In

When a recipient signs up from a mobile handset, a double opt-in process is advised, but not required. The message flow might look like this:

Recipient: {Keyword}
Short code: Welcome to {Campaign Name} {Description} Alerts! Std msg&data rates may apply.

{Message frequency} Reply HELP for help, STOP to cancel.

Non-Handset Opt-In

When a user initially signs up by any means other than from a mobile handset, a double opt-in process is required. The message  flow might look like this:

(Your recipient signs up without using mobile handset, and receives a text message from the short code asking to confirm opt-in)

Short code: Text YES to join {Campaign Name} {Description} Alerts. Std msg&data rates may apply. {Message frequency} Reply HELP for help, STOP to cancel.
Recipient: YES
Short code: Welcome to {Campaign Name} {Description} Alerts! Std msg&data rates may apply.

{Message frequency} Reply HELP for help, STOP to cancel.

Note: Rather than confirming opt-in with a text message keyword such as YES, recipients  may confirm by entering a verification code online instead. Once the verification code has been entered, a compliant welcome message must be sent to the handset.

You can review other short code compliance guidelines here.

These guidelines are based on industry standards for Canada short code service. We recommend that your review the full set of industry standards at the CWTA’s website.  You should expect that your short code campaign will be audited for compliance with industry standards.  Nonetheless, please note that each carrier reserves the right to suspend short code service for any user at any time, so compliance with the above guidelines is not a guarantee against suspension of service by a carrier.

In addition to the industry standards, there may be compliance requirements under Canadian law, including the Canadian Anti-SPAM Law (CASL), depending on the nature of your text messaging campaign.  The specific legal compliance requirements will depend on the details of your text message campaign, and you should consult with your legal counsel to ensure that your text messaging campaign complies with the wireless carriers standards, industry standards, and with the law applicable to your campaign.