Industry standards for U.S. short code HELP and STOP

To make your short code campaign compliant with Twilio’s requirements, per our Acceptable Use Policy, your company is required to comply with carrier compliance requirements, industry standards, and applicable law.

To comply with industry standards, the application you built to manage your US short code must respond to keywords HELP and STOP. Your application must also manage the opt-out list. As a courtesy, below we have provided example HELP and STOP messages and suggestions on managing your opt-out list. The industry standards for US short codes HELP and STOP handling can be found in the the CTIA Short Code Monitoring Handbook.

Managing Opt-Out Requests

A compliance requirement for short code campaigns is allowing your recipients to opt-out of receiving text messages from your short code through any reasonable means. One means for opting-out of your campaign is by sending the keyword STOP or universal keywords STOP, END, CANCEL, UNSUBSCRIBE, and QUIT to your short code.  When a user texts one of these keywords to your short code, your application must respond to that users request and manage the opt-out list. Unlike on long codes, Twilio is not involved in managing opt-out requests made via the STOP keyword. This allows your short code application to independently manage subscription lists and requests from end users to re-opt in. If you are unsure of how to implement this with your short code, please reach out to your account manager!

STOP Message

In addition to maintaining your opt-out list, industry standards require that a compliant response is sent whenever your end user text STOP or the universal keywords STOP, END, CANCEL, UNSUBSCRIBE, and QUIT to your short code, regardless of whether your recipient was subscribed to the program previously. Example:

Short code: You are unsubscribed from {Campaign Name} {Description} Alerts. No more messages will be sent. Reply HELP for help or {toll free number}.

STOP Filtering

Recipients of your text messages may be subscribed to multiple campaigns running off of one short code and may want to unsubscribe from a particular campaign. This is achieved using STOP Filtering. To find out more about how to implement STOP Filtering, please see the FAQ Allowing end users to opt-out of individual parts of a multiple program short code campaigns.

HELP Message Industry standards require that a compliant response is required whenever your recipients text the keyword HELP to your short code, regardless of whether the recipient is subscribed to the program. Example:

Recipient: HELP or INFO
Short code: {Campaign Name} {Description} Alerts: Help at {source of help #1} or {toll free number}. Msg&data rates may apply. {Message frequency}. Text STOP to cancel.

  • The “description” should be a single word to define the kind of alerts, e.g. “Account Alerts,” “News Alerts,” “Promo Alerts,” etc.
  • The first “source of help” should be a support email address or a link to your terms of service.
  • The message frequency must be specific, but can be any interval, for example: “1 message per day,” “4 messages per month,” “2 messages per transaction,” etc. If the message frequency will vary based on user interaction, “1 message/user request” is standard.


These guidelines are based on industry standards for short code service found in the CTIA Short Code Monitoring Handbook.

You should expect that your short code campaign will be audited at some point by a carrier or industry organization.  In our experience, U.S. short code campaigns are typically audited for compliance with the CTIA Short Code Monitoring Handbook.  

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 above industry standards, there may be additional compliance requirements under U.S. law, including the Telephone Consumers Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA), depending on the nature of your text messaging campaign.  These additional requirements may include providing additional means for your recipients to opt-out of your text message campaign beyond just replying STOP.  You should consult with your legal counsel to ensure that your opt-out process is compliant with applicable law and consistent with industry standards.  

Twilio has an Add-on for opt-out classifier that helps recognize if a user wants to stop receiving messages. Check out the Add-on here.  

For information on long code help and stop replies, please see Twilio support for opt-out keywords (SMS STOP filtering).

Have more questions? Submit a request
Powered by Zendesk