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International versus Domestic Traffic

What do the terms "International" and "Domestic" traffic mean?

The terms “International” and “Domestic” are two common categories of SMS traffic used to characterize the origin of SMS messages. Many network operators across the globe require different registration procedures depending on whether traffic is International or Domestic to ensure messages being sent to subscribers are legitimate as well as to protect end users from fraud and spam.

Domestic: Messages are sent from an entity headquartered in the same country as where the SMS is sent to. For example, promotional SMS sent to Egyptian end users from a company headquartered in Egypt. 

International: Messages are sent from an entity headquartered in a different country from where the SMS is sent to. For example, promotional SMS sent to Egyptian end users from a company headquartered in the US.

Note that even though messages are sent through Twilio, which is headquartered in the US, this does not affect the distinction of whether a Twilio customer’s traffic is International or Domestic. Traffic type is based on the headquarters of the company the end user perceives as the sender of the message.

The below guidelines highlight some examples of what is generally accepted as international or domestic traffic in specific situations. Note that the ultimate decision on traffic type lies with the network operators in the specific country and can be subject to change.  Country specific details can be found in Twilio’s SMS guidelines.

  • I am an international brand with local offices in other countries
    Traffic will still be classified as international even when local offices are present.
  • I am a local retailer that is part of a larger enterprise
    It is likely that network operators would recognise local retailers of large enterprises as international traffic.
  • I am an international bank with offices in other countries
    Sometimes network operators will allow banking traffic to be considered as domestic. This would depend on the individual requirements of the country

Can international traffic ever be sent as domestic?

The categorisation of traffic as International or Domestic is required as part of regulations to protect end users from fraud and spam. Therefore, sending international traffic as domestic is not allowed and may incur fines from the regulators in any given country.

What do I need to do as an International or Domestic entity?

Check the SMS guidelines for details on regulations in a specific country. You will need to comply with the regulations specific to each traffic type when applicable. 

Alphanumeric Sender ID registration is often required when regulations specify differences between Domestic and International traffic. In those cases Twilio will provide this information in the SMS guidelines for the specific destination, along with best practices and other compliance considerations. If a country does not differentiate between international and domestic traffic, you will find registration guidelines under the term "Global Registration". You can read more about Alphanumeric Sender ID registration in our help center articles “International support for Alphanumeric Sender ID” and “Alphanumeric Sender ID Registration in the Twilio Console”.

You can also find information about the specific documentation required for registration in a given country either in our SMS section of the help center or by selecting that country in the Alphanumeric Sender ID registration section of the Twilio console.

What Should I do if I or my client have both International and Domestic Traffic in a country?

To ensure messages are routed and billed correctly, you will need separate accounts/subaccounts dedicated to each traffic type. 

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