Forbidden message categories for SMS and MMS in the US and Canada

The following messaging use cases are not allowed on SMS or MMS in the United States or Canada. The below information applies to long code messaging with the rollout of the new A2P 10DLC system, in addition to short code and Toll-Free messaging. Lastly, we have also provided some suggested alternatives for conducting certain forbidden use cases.

Please note, there are some rules about message contents, even when your use case is not forbidden. For example, use of shared public URL shorteners is not allowed by US carriers and will result in filtering. For details, see How do I prevent my Twilio messages from being filtered (blocked)?

Forbidden message categories for SMS/MMS in the US/Canada

Category Examples Notes
High-risk financial services
  • Payday loans
  • Short term high-interest loans
  • Third-party auto loans
  • Third-party mortgage loans
  • Student loans
  • Cryptocurrency
“Third-party” means originating from any party other than the one which will service the loan.
Third-party lead generation services
  • Companies that buy, sell, or share consumer information.
Debt collection or forgiveness
  • Third-party debt collection
  • Debt consolidation
  • Debt reduction
  • Credit repair programs
“Third-party” means originating from any party other than the one who is owed the debt. For example, a hospital could send messages regarding bills for its own patients, assuming they provided opt-in to receive that messaging.
“Get rich quick” schemes
  • Work-from-home programs
  • Risk investment opportunities
  • Pyramid schemes
This is different from outreach about employment as a result of compliant opt-in practices, messages from brokerages to their members, investment news alerts, or other investment-related messages.
Illegal substances
  • Cannabis (United States)
  • CBD (United States)
  • Prescription drugs
Cannabis is federally illegal in the United States. Cannabis businesses will not be permitted to use SMS/MMS messaging in the US, regardless of message content.
CBD is federally legal, but is not legal in some US states, so US carriers do not permit messaging related to CBD.
Offers for drugs that cannot be sold over-the-counter in the US/Canada are forbidden.
  • Casino apps
  • Gambling websites

Gambling traffic is prohibited in the US and Canada on all number types (Toll Free, Short Code, Long Code). 

"S.H.A.F.T." use cases
  • Sex
  • Hate
  • Alcohol
  • Firearms
  • Tobacco

While Tobacco traffic is prohibited on Toll Free, it is allowed on Short Code, or Long Code, as long as proper age gating procedures are in place.

Firearms and Alcohol traffic is allowed on Toll Free, Short Code, and Long Code, as long as proper age gating procedures are in place.

Vaping-related traffic is prohibited.


Please note, any use cases that violate Twilio's Acceptable Use Policy or Messaging Policy are also not allowed on Twilio's platform, regardless of number/sender type or destination country.

My use case is listed as forbidden. What can I do?

If your use case is listed above as forbidden for SMS and MMS messaging in the US, you may be able to use another Twilio product to reach your recipients.

The Twilio Sendgrid Email API is an option for many of the above use cases. For example, cannabis- or CBD-related messaging may be conducted via email, as long as you have proper age gating in place and are sending toward recipients in a locale where the substance is legal. In addition, the Twilio Programmable Voice product is not subject to the same carrier restrictions as SMS.

For more information about cannabis-related messaging alternatives, see Can I send cannabis or CBD-related messaging traffic on Twilio?

To learn more about how your use case could work on Twilio, talk to Sales.

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