AWS Messaging & Targeting Blog

How to Build a Compliant SMS Opt-In Process With Amazon Pinpoint

SMS messaging is a great way to stay in touch with your customers and send them timely, relevant messages. However, it’s always required to get their permission before you start sending them texts. This is known as opting in.

There are a few different ways to opt-in users to your SMS program. One common method is to have them sign up on your website or in your app. You can also collect opt-ins at in-person events or via phone call through your customer service team; though it’s not limited to just those options.

No matter which method you choose, it’s important to make sure that your opt-in process is clear, concise, and compliant with all applicable local laws and regulations in the countries that you are sending to. Here are some best practices:

  • Get explicit consent. Explicit consent is the intentional action taken by a end-user to request a specific message from your service.
  • Provide clear instructions. Tell users how to opt-in, what they are opting into, and how to opt-out of your program. Be sure to include your contact information at the opt-in location in case they have any questions or concerns.
  • Give users the option to choose what kind of messages they want to receive. For example, you might allow them to opt-in to OTP/2FA messages, shipping notifications, or both.
  • Respect users’ privacy. Never sell or share users’ phone numbers with third parties without their permission. 3rd party data sharing is generally considered a prohibited practice by mobile carriers and violates privacy regulations in many countries.
  • Make it easy to opt-out. Users should be able to opt-out of your program at any time by replying with a simple text message, such as “STOP.” See additional relevent documentation related to this: Opting out. Self-managed opt-outs.

The above will help you build a strong audience of engaged subscribers who want to hear from you and improve your chances in successfully registering for a dedicated number. By following these best practices, you can ensure that your SMS opt-in process is compliant and effective.

What carriers require for a compliant opt-in workflow and call-to-action

The primary purpose of the opt-in workflow is to demonstrate that the end-user explicitly consents to receive text messages and understands the nature of the program. Your application is being reviewed by a 3rd party reviewer and sometimes multiple 3rd party reviewers for a single registration, so make sure to provide clear and thorough information about how your end-users opt-in to your SMS service and any associated fees or charges. If the reviewer cannot determine how your opt-in process works or if it is not compliant then your application will be denied and returned. It is important to note that Amazon does not review or approve your use cases and that it’s a telecom industry standard in most countries for 3rd parties to review and approve your use case prior to sending.

Note: If you have a use case that is internal to your business, you are still required to demonstrate explicit opt-in consent from the recipients. There are no exceptions to having an opt-in workflow and explicit consent is always required.

If your opt-in process requires a login, is not yet public, is a verbal opt-in, or if it occurs on printed forms or fliers then make sure to thoroughly document how this process is completed by the end-user receiving messages — remember, these are 3rd party reviewers and if they’re unable to access where your end-users opt-in, they will require thorough information via other means like text or screenshots. Provide a screenshot of the Call to Action (CTA) in such cases. If the consent is being asked for and supplied verbally, as in a contact center situation, make sure to provide the verbal scripts to ensure the entire CTA is shown. Host any screenshots on a publicly accessible website (like S3, OneDrive, or Google Drive) and provide the URL when you submit (NOTE: toll-free number registration process supports attachments and do not require a public URL to be included). Regardless of the medium used to collect end-user information (e.g., webform, point of sale, fliers, or verbal opt-ins), the requirements are the same. In the case of online and printed materials, they would be shown as text to the end-users. In the case of verbal opt-ins (i.e., on the phone), the information below would be verbally read to the end-user.

Call-to-action/opt-in requirements

The following items are the minimum that must be presented to an end-user at the time of opt-in to ensure your SMS program is compliant:

  • Program (brand) name
  • Message frequency disclosure. (example: “Message frequency varies” or “One message per login”)
  • Customer care contact information (example: “Text HELP or call 1-800-111-2222 for support.”)
  • Opt-out information (example: “Text STOP to opt-out of future messages.”)
  • Include “Message and data rates may apply” disclosure.
  • Link to a publicly accessible Terms & Conditions page
  • Link to a publicly accessible Privacy Policy page

**Now lets break the above bullet points down into more detail:

Program, service, brand name

All SMS originator types that require registration must disclose the program name, product description, or both in service messages, on the call-to-action, and in the terms and conditions. The program name is the sponsor of the messaging program, often the brand name or company name associated with the sending use case. The product description describes the product advertised by the program.

Publicly accessible terms & conditions page

The terms should be live and publicly accessible. For verbal scripts, a URL must be read off to the end-user enrolling in the SMS program, or the comprehensive terms must be directly included in the script. You should provide a compliant screenshot, link, or mockup of the SMS Terms of Service in the registration submission.

Below is a copy of the boilerplate terms of service that cover minimum requirements from the carriers:

  1. {Program name}
  2. {Insert program description here; this is simply a brief description of the kinds of messages users can expect to receive when they opt-in.}
  3. You can cancel the SMS service at any time. Just text “STOP” to the short code. After you send the SMS message “STOP” to us, we will send you an SMS message to confirm that you have been unsubscribed. After this, you will no longer receive SMS messages from us. If you want to join again, just sign up as you did the first time and we will start sending SMS messages to you again.
  4. If you are experiencing issues with the messaging program you can reply with the keyword HELP for more assistance, or you can get help directly at {support email address or toll-free number}.
  5. Carriers are not liable for delayed or undelivered messages
  6. As always, message and data rates may apply for any messages sent to you from us and to us from you. You will receive {message frequency}. If you have any questions about your text plan or data plan, it is best to contact your wireless provider.
  7. If you have any questions regarding privacy, please read our privacy policy: {link to privacy policy}

Publicly accessible privacy policy page

Message Senders are responsible for protecting the privacy of Consumers’ information and must comply with applicable privacy law. Message Senders should maintain a privacy policy for all programs and make it accessible from the initial call-to-action. The privacy policy should be labeled clearly and all cases, terms and conditions and privacy policy disclosures must provide up-to-date, accurate information about program details and functionality. For verbal scripts, a URL must be read off to the end-user enrolling in the SMS program, or the comprehensive terms must be directly included in the script.

One of the key items carriers look for in a Privacy Policy is the sharing of end-user information with third-parties. If your privacy policy mentions data sharing or selling to non-affiliated third parties, there is a concern that customer data will be shared with third parties for marketing purposes.

Express consent is required for SMS; therefore, sharing data is prohibited. Privacy policies must specify that this data sharing excludes SMS opt-in data and consent. Privacy policies can be updated (or draft versions provided) where the practice of sharing personal data to third parties is expressly omitted from the number registration.

Example: “The above excludes text messaging originator opt-in data and consent; this information will not be shared with any third parties.”

Message frequency disclosure

The message frequency disclosure provides end-users an indication of how often they’ll receive messages from you. For example, a recurring messaging program might say “one message per week.” A one-time password or multi-factor authentication use case might say “message frequency varies” or “one message per login attempt”.

Customer care contact information

Customer care contact information must be clear and readily available to help Consumers understand program details as well as their status with the program. Customer care information should result in Consumers receiving help.

Numbers should always respond to customer care requests, regardless of whether the requestor is subscribed to the program. At a minimum, Message Senders must respond to messages containing the HELP keyword with the program name and further information about how to contact the Message Sender. SMS programs should promote customer care contact instructions at program opt-in and at regular intervals in content or service messages, at least once per month.

Example: “For more information, text ‘HELP’ or call 1-800-123-1234.”

Opt-Out Information

Opt-out mechanisms facilitate Consumer choice to terminate communications from text messaging programs. Message Senders should acknowledge and respect Consumers’ opt-out requests consistent with the following guidelines:

  • Message Senders should ensure that Consumers have the ability to opt-out at any time
  • Message Senders should support multiple mechanisms of opt-out, including: phone call, email, or text
  • Message Senders should acknowledge and honor all Consumer opt-out requests by sending one final opt-out confirmation message to notify the Consumer that they have opted-out successfully. No further messages should be sent following the confirmation message.

Message Senders should include opt-out information in the call-to-action, terms and conditions, and opt-in confirmation.

If a 2FA/OTP program requires end-users to opt-in and request an OTP from the same CTA, and it is compliant with all applicable regulations, then the sender does not need to explicitly opt-out that number if the user texts “STOP” to the business’s number. However, the sender must still respond with a compliant opt-out response.

See the following Amazon Pinpoint blog post on How to Manage SMS Opt-Outs with Amazon Pinpoint

“Message and data rates may apply” disclosure

All SMS programs must display or must be read out loud (if a verbal opt-in) the disclosure verbatim: “Message and data rates may apply”. By requiring the disclosure, US mobile carriers are helping to ensure that consumers are aware of the potential costs of sending and receiving text messages, and that they have consented to receive those messages before they are sent.

SMS Opt-Ins for Independent Software Vendors (ISVs)


In this section, we’ll outline the terms we use, to help better explain each party, and the requirements.

ISV: ISVs are positioned between Amazon Pinpoint and the ISV’s end-business customers. While they may operate differently, and/or offer different services, their requirements for SMS program registrations are largely the same.

End Business: The End Business is how we refer to your ISV customers. This is generally the entity that creates the messaging content, distributes it through your platform, and interacts with their end-users (message recipients).

Note: In some rare cases, an ISV platform can be considered the end business if they control content via templates, and collect and manage opt-in in their entirety — meaning the ISV information directly will be used for the registration and will be branded as such in the text messages. If you are unsure, we recommend including the information for the entity (your customer) that is engaging with the opted-in handset with registration. ISVs who don’t include this information (if it is required) risk their verification request being rejected.

End-User: The message recipient is considered the end-user. The person with the handset where messages terminate. As an independent software vendor (ISV), you need to comply with all applicable laws and regulations when it comes to SMS opt-ins. This means that your end business(es) need to get explicit consent from their end-users before text messages start being sent and give end-users the option to opt-out of their program at any time. You also need to provide them with a registered and approved phone number to send their SMS messages to ensure that they are delivered reliably and not flagged as spam.

When does an ISV have to submit each end business?

SMS program registrations requires end-user business information, not ISV information. This means the ISV needs to provide a mechanism for their end businesses to provide their information to be submitted for registration. For ISVs or aggregators who provide messaging services to businesses, it’s expected that the information provided represents the entity (your customer) that is sending messages to the opted-in handset.

NOTE: Amazon uses this information in accordance with all applicable obligations, and only to verify the end-user is a legitimate business. Amazon will not contact the end-business user with the information provided.

Submissions that are missing information or are populated with ISV/aggregator information may be rejected. Exceptions may apply when the use case clearly showcases that the ISV manages opt-in mechanisms, is the sole message content creator, and the messages clearly come from the ISV, not their end businesses. For example, if the ISV owns a web application that requires their end-customers to enroll into OTP.

If you are unsure, we recommend including the information for the entity (your customer) that is engaging with the opted-in handset with registration. ISVs who don’t include this information (if it is required) risk their verification request being rejected.

In conclusion

Getting user consent through a compliant opt-in process is crucial for any SMS messaging program. Key elements include clearly disclosing the program details, providing easy opt-out methods, having accessible terms of service and privacy policies, and adhering to all applicable regulations. For ISVs enabling businesses to send SMS messages, it’s important they provide a way for each end business to submit their own information for registration and comply with the requirements. By following SMS best practices around opt-ins, businesses can build trust with subscribers and ensure deliverability of their text messaging campaigns.