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International SMS Messaging Geographic Permissions (Geo Permissions) and How They Work

Want to learn more about managing Messaging Geographic Permissions on your Twilio project? Need to send outbound messages outside of your home country? This guide will help you with this, as well as answer common questions about Messaging Geographic Permissions.

Table of Contents

What are Messaging Geographic Permissions?

Twilio provides our users with the ability to send outbound SMS messages globally. Your project is set by default to only allow messages to be sent to your home country, which is determined by the phone number you verified during signup. If you’d like to enable new countries to send SMS messages to, please modify your permissions from the Messaging Geographic Permissions page in Console.

How does Messaging Geographic Permissions work?

Messaging Geographic Permissions is a self-serve tool in Console to view and configure the list of countries to which your project allows messaging content to be sent. 

While Twilio supports international SMS but please keep in mind that each country has its own individual regulations and guidelines that may apply based on sender type, use case, or may require additional registration. You are responsible to ensure proper use before enabling SMS Geo Permissions.  For more information see What is Global SMS and How Does it Work?

How does Messaging Geographic Permissions work to prevent Fraud? 

Given the rise of fraud in the SMS ecosystem, Twilio recommends disabling destination countries your business doesn’t use or uses infrequently as a line of defense against fraudulent activity. Please review our SMS Traffic Pumping Fraud article to learn how to further secure your account, including the periodic review of your Messaging Geographic Permissions. As Twilio customers are financially responsible for all use of their accounts, including unwanted usage, we encourage you to take action to avoid becoming a victim of SMS Traffic Pumping. If you have any questions or require further assistance, please reach out to the Support team. We’re here to help.

Are Messaging Geographic Permissions based on country code?

Messaging Geographic Permissions generally work based on the country code of the destination phone number.  However, exceptions exist for political and historical alignments and some may not map strictly to a country's political or cultural boundaries.  You can find the available geo permission parameters in Console.

How can I modify Messaging Geographic Permissions in my account?

 Notice: Only Owner and Admin profiles can modify SMS Geo-Permissions

  • Navigate to Console, Messaging > Settings > Geo permissions (Direct link here)
  • Select the prefixes you want to enable and click Save geo permissions at the bottom.
  • Acknowledge the risk if you’re enabling High Risk countries and click Enable geo permissions.
  • If the update is successful, you’ll see the message “Messaging geo permissions updated successfully” in the top right corner.   Updates take effect immediately.

Can I manage different Messaging Geographic Permissions for individual subaccounts?

Yes. By default, a subaccount will inherit the permissions of its parent account. When accessing the subaccount, Owner and Admin user roles do have the option to disable inheritance, which allows SMS permissions to be set at the subaccount level, independent of the parent account. 

Parent accounts of the same Twilio Organization will not inherit each others’ settings. Inheritance is only possible between a single parent and its owned subaccounts.

If you utilize the Twilio Organization feature, each parent account (sometimes referred to as a 'project'), has its own set of international geographic permissions that requires manual management. Enabling or disabling permissions to a specific country on one parent account of an Organization will not change this setting on any other parent account of an Organization.

For more information on subaccount inheritance, please see Do Subaccounts Support International Calls and SMS Messaging.

Notice: To maximize protection against SMS fraud, Twilio recommends users be sure to block countries you don't plan to send messages to in ALL of your accounts.

Why am I receiving Error 21408 when trying to send SMS to certain recipients or regions?

You receive Error 21408 when you are trying to send SMS to a region that has not been enabled in your account's Messaging Geo Permissions settings.

What makes a country high risk?

Messaging Geographic Permissions are a first line of defense from abuse, particularly in use cases where your prospects, customers and/or third parties can trigger or send messages themselves. Applications that can trigger messaging to premium rate numbers are most likely to be targeted by bad actors, and those bad actors tend to send messages to certain geographies where conditions are favorable for this fraudulent activity. We continually monitor the issue and indicate in Console which countries and geographies are currently observed to have the highest risk of SMS Traffic Pumping Fraud. As bad actors are constantly updating and evolving their methods in response to enforcement and other efforts, risk can shift to other countries over time, and we will update our list of high-risk countries as conditions change. We encourage all project owners to learn more about SMS Traffic Pumping Fraud and to follow our recommendations to protect themselves from abuse.

Can I change Messaging Geographic Permissions programmatically through API?

No, the Messaging Geo-Permissions can not be changed programmatically via the API for security reasons.

Where can I find logs for changes in my Messaging Geo-Permissions?

You can find the logs for changes in your Messaging Geo-Permissions either in the Insights Audit Events Logs in Console or programmatically through the sms-geographic-permissions Resource Type via Events in the Monitor REST API.

What do I do if I notice irregular activity in my project?

If you notice any irregular activity on your account, please reach out to the Support team immediately, as well as your account manager. Twilio takes the financial security of our users very seriously.

Once an incident is reported, we can suspend all activity on a project or subaccount, or block a certain prefix while an investigation ensues. It is better to be safe and temporarily out of service, than risk high charges and abusive activity.

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