Beginning on May 15, 2022, all new Toll-Free numbers must be verified before sending traffic. Any existing Toll-Free numbers running traffic on your account must be verified by September 30, 2022. See Toll-Free Message Verification for US/Canada.
Toll-Free numbers are designated for business messaging use by all major carriers in the United States, and by most major mobile carriers in Canada (Rogers, Fido, Telus, and Videotron). Although carrier filtering is still possible for messages sent from Toll-Free phone numbers, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of filtering by complying with all rules and regulations, and following best practices. This guide explains which SMS and MMS use cases are approved for Toll-Free phone numbers and our recommendations for ensuring high deliverability.
Approved Toll-Free messaging use cases
Some categories of messaging, such as high-risk financial services and third-party debt collection, are specifically forbidden on Toll-Free SMS and MMS. For more details, see Forbidden message categories for SMS and MMS in the US and Canada.
Toll-Free messaging is a great choice for transactional use cases, including the following:
- One-time password (OTP) or verification codes
- Account-related alerts or notifications
- Customer care messaging that includes some automated messaging (including satisfaction surveys)
Toll-Free messaging can also be used for promotional or marketing-type traffic, however, it is extremely important to ensure that all recipients have opted-in and that you maintain a low opt-out ("STOP" reply) rate to avoid filtering.
Toll-Free Messaging Verification is required and reduces filtering risk on compliant traffic
Beginning on May 15, 2022, all new Toll-Free numbers must be verified before sending traffic. Any existing Toll-Free numbers running traffic on your account must be verified by September 30, 2022. This reduces the risk of filtering on your message traffic, assuming it is compliant with all applicable rules. TSG offers this verification service free of cost. Please see Toll-Free Message Verification for US & Canada for details. The Toll-Free traffic verification process on average can take approximately 5 business days to complete.
Toll-Free messaging best practices
Toll-Free message filtering is primarily geared toward preventing unwanted messaging, fraud, or abuse. If you are sending A2P messages to the US that align with the CTIA's best practices and TSG's AUP Messaging Policy, you should generally see a low rate of filtering when using a Toll-Free phone number.
Additionally, Toll-Free messaging users must adhere to the following standards:
- Obtain clear opt-in from your recipients before sending them messages (the opt-in does not need to be via SMS).
- Provide easy ways for your users to opt-out of messages.
- Maintain a very low opt-out (STOP reply) rate from your recipients.
- Use shortened, branded URLs for the highest deliverability levels when sending links in the message body. Do not use shared URL shorteners (such as popular free URL shortening services) as these are forbidden by US carriers and will result in filtering.
- Do not "load balance" by sending the same or similar message contents using multiple Toll-Free numbers. Carriers call this "snowshoeing" and it is specifically targeted for filtering on toll-free SMS.
- If you have a valid use case for sending the same or similar messages over multiple Toll-Free numbers, please contact TSG Global Support.
My Toll-Free messages to the United States or Canada are being filtered, but my use case complies with all best practices.
If you suspect you may be experiencing inappropriate filtering on compliant outbound Toll-Free SMS messages despite following all best practices listed above, please contact our Support Team, and we can investigate on your behalf.
Toll-Free MMS file size limitations
Toll-Free US numbers sending MMS with non-image attachments (PDFs, video files, etc.) to the US currently require all media attachments to be no larger than 600kb.
Toll-Free SMS and MMS carrier fees
Verizon charges a carrier fee of $0.0025 per SMS message segment and $0.005 per MMS, on all Toll-Free messaging toward subscribers on their network.
T-Mobile (including Sprint): Starting July 1, 2021, TSG will pass through T-Mobile’s carrier fees of $0.0025 per SMS message segment (inbound and outbound) and $0.01 per MMS (inbound and outbound).
AT&T: Starting July 1, 2021, TSG will pass through AT&T’s carrier fees of $0.0025 per outbound SMS message segment and $0.003 per outbound MMS.
Why would I use Toll-Free messaging instead of a short code?
A short code is an ideal solution for high-volume A2P use cases. By default, short codes offer much higher messaging throughput than other types of numbers, at 100 SMS segments per second. US short codes can also be enabled to send MMS (picture or media) messages in the United States.
US-based Toll-Free phone numbers may be a better fit for certain use cases. Unlike short codes, they can be used for placing and receiving voice calls, in addition to SMS messages. Toll-free SMS may also be a good choice for a business that needs A2P-type communications but is not ready to apply for a short code.