SMS Marketing Laws Every Startup Owner Needs To Know

SMS marketing laws encompass the legal regulations governing the use of text messages for marketing purposes. These are designed to protect consumers and cover key aspects, including consent, opt-out mechanisms, time restrictions, identification, and penalties.

Let's find out more...

What do We Mean by SMS Marketing Laws?

SMS marketing laws are basically rules that control how businesses can use text messages for their advertising. They exist to make sure that people don't get bombarded with unwanted texts and to protect their privacy.

These rules include things like getting clear permission from people before sending them marketing texts, telling them how to stop getting these SMS messages, and only sending texts during certain hours.

In the U.S., there's this important thing called the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) that lays down strict rules for SMS marketing. If companies break these rules, they can end up paying hefty fines, so it's important to follow them carefully.

TCPA and Its Significance

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), passed in 1991 and subsequently updated, stands as a pivotal pillar of SMS marketing regulations in the United States.

Its primary purpose is to shield consumers from the intrusion of unsolicited telemarketing communications, which include text messages. The TCPA represents a vital legal framework that places stringent directives upon businesses engaging in SMS marketing.

The TCPA's significance lies in its role as a robust safeguard against unwanted solicitation. It serves as a legal bulwark that shields consumers from the annoyance and inconvenience of incessant marketing messages.

By imposing specific rules and restrictions on how businesses can conduct text message marketing, the TCPA aims to strike a balance between commercial interests and consumer protection.

SMS Marketing Regulations in the US

SMS marketing regulations in the United States are crucial guidelines that dictate how businesses can engage in text message marketing while ensuring consumer protection and privacy.

These regulations have evolved over the years, primarily under the framework of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and other related laws.

Let's delve deeper into the SMS marketing regulations in the U.S. and gain a comprehensive understanding of their key aspects:

Central to the TCPA's regulatory framework is the requirement for businesses to obtain "prior express written consent" from recipients before dispatching marketing text messages.

This consent stipulation is not a mere formality; it carries profound significance within SMS marketing regulations.

"Prior express written consent" signifies a clear, unambiguous agreement from the recipient that they willingly opt-in to receive marketing communications via text messages.

It cannot be obfuscated within verbose terms and conditions or implied through vague language. Instead, it must be explicit, informed, and freely given.

This requirement serves several critical purposes:

  • Consumer Empowerment: It empowers consumers by ensuring that they have control over which businesses can contact them via text messages.
  • Transparency: It mandates transparency, ensuring that individuals fully understand what they are signing up for.
  • Protection Against Spam: By requiring explicit consent, it reduces the likelihood of spam messages inundating consumers' mobile devices.

2. Opt-Out Mechanism

One crucial component of SMS marketing regulations is the establishment of an effective opt-out mechanism.

This mechanism is designed to empower recipients and ensure they have control over the messages they receive.

Here's a closer look at the significance of the opt-out process:

  • Businesses must provide a simple and effective way for recipients to opt out of receiving future messages. This requirement underscores the importance of respecting recipients' preferences.
  • It ensures that individuals who no longer wish to receive marketing texts have a straightforward means to stop further communications.
  • The opt-out instructions should be hassle-free and immediately stop further communications. This stipulation is fundamental in preventing further inconvenience to recipients.
  • It eliminates the need for recipients to endure a cumbersome process or wait for an extended period to halt unwanted messages.

Adhering to these guidelines can help businesses not only comply with SMS marketing regulations but also demonstrate a commitment to respecting consumers' choices and their right to control the messages they receive.

3. Time Restrictions

Time restrictions are another vital aspect of SMS marketing regulations, aimed at preventing inconvenience to consumers.

These restrictions dictate when businesses can send solicitation texts:

  • Solicitation texts should not be sent before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., local time unless prior consent is obtained. These time constraints are crucial to ensuring that marketing messages do not disrupt individuals during late or early hours when they may be resting or engaged in other personal activities.
  • The significance of time restrictions lies in maintaining a respectful and considerate approach to SMS marketing. Complying with these limits, helps businesses demonstrate a commitment to consumer convenience and privacy.
  • It helps strike a balance between marketing objectives and respecting individuals' daily routines and personal time.

4. Identification and Compliance

Within the realm of SMS marketing regulations, two key aspects demand attention: proper identification and compliance with established guidelines.

Let's explore these components in detail:

  • The TCPA requires businesses to clearly identify themselves in text messages. This requirement ensures transparency and informs recipients about the sender's identity.
  • It prevents the deceptive use of anonymous or misleading sender information, which is crucial for maintaining trust between businesses and consumers.
  • Furthermore, the TCPA mandates compliance with the National Do Not Call Registry. This means that businesses must refrain from sending marketing texts to numbers registered on this list. In addition, they are required to maintain their own "do-not-call" lists for a period of five years.

This dual-layered approach helps businesses honor consumers' preferences and reduce unwanted messages, aligning with the principles of consumer protection.

5. Penalties for Non-Compliance

The consequences of non-compliance with SMS marketing regulations can be severe. Violating these rules can result in substantial financial penalties.

Fines for non-compliance typically range from $500 to $1,500 per violation.

  • These penalties are not to be taken lightly, as they can accumulate rapidly, potentially posing a significant financial risk to businesses.
  • This financial risk underscores the importance of strict compliance with SMS marketing regulations. Businesses engaging in text message marketing must be diligent in following the rules, as violations can have a substantial impact on their bottom line.
  • Compliance not only mitigates the risk of penalties but also fosters a positive relationship with consumers, demonstrating respect for their rights and privacy.

The Evolution and Ongoing Regulatory Developments in SMS Marketing

The Evolution Of Regulations

The landscape of SMS marketing regulations has evolved in response to emerging challenges. The surge in text message scams and robotexts compelled regulatory bodies, notably the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), to take action.

Here's a closer look at the evolution of these regulations:

  • The rise in text message scams and robotexts prompted the FCC to adopt additional rules aimed at tackling this pressing issue.
  • These new regulations specifically target robotext and commercial text messages that are highly likely to be illegal. The objective is to curb the proliferation of fraudulent or deceptive text messages that harm consumers.
  • The significance of this evolution lies in its responsiveness to changing threats in the SMS marketing arena. By introducing rules that address the menace of scam text messages, regulatory bodies demonstrate their commitment to protecting consumers from harm and maintaining the integrity of the SMS marketing ecosystem.

The Ongoing Regulatory Developments

Regulatory bodies, including the FCC, are actively engaged in monitoring and adapting regulations to keep pace with the ever-evolving SMS marketing landscape.

This ongoing process is vital for ensuring that regulations remain effective and relevant.

Here's what's currently in focus:

  • Regulatory bodies continue to evaluate and adapt regulations to address emerging challenges and safeguard consumer interests. This includes efforts to combat illegal robotexters, individuals or entities engaged in unlawful text message marketing.
  • There is an ongoing effort to clarify rules related to marketing messages. This includes ensuring that regulations for commercial messages are comprehensive and unambiguous, leaving no room for misinterpretation.

This Clarity in the rules benefits both businesses and consumers by providing a clear framework for SMS marketing practices.

State-Wise SMS Marketing Regulations in the US

1. Arizona

Arizona, like many states, recognized the need to adapt its telemarketing laws to address the proliferation of text message marketing. To achieve this, the state enacted House Bill 2498, a new measure that expands its existing telemarketing law to encompass text messages.

Key Highlights:

  • Inclusion of Text Messages: House Bill 2498 explicitly includes all text messaging program and messages within the scope of telemarketing regulations in Arizona. This means that businesses engaging in text message marketing campaigns must adhere to the same rules and guidelines as traditional telemarketing practices.
  • Fines for Violations: Violations of these regulations can result in substantial penalties. Businesses found in violation of the law may face fines of up to $1,000 per violation. These penalties can quickly add up, making compliance crucial for businesses operating in Arizona.
  • Enforcement: The responsibility for enforcing these regulations falls under the purview of the state's Attorney General. This office is tasked with investigating potential violations and pursuing legal action against companies found to be in breach of the law.

2. Florida

Florida, too, recognized the importance of regulating text message marketing practices to protect consumers. The state introduced significant amendments to its existing Telephone Solicitation Act (FTSA) through House Bill 761.

Key Amendments:

  • Narrowing Categories: One notable change in House Bill 761 involves narrowing the categories of equipment covered by the FTSA. While it still encompasses the transmission of prerecorded voicemails, the law now specifically defines which types of equipment are subject to regulation.
  • Expanding "Signature" Definition: The bill expands the definition of "signature" to include various acts, such as a confirmation message or checking a box. This broader definition aims to capture various ways in which individuals may provide consent for receiving marketing messages.
  • Notice and Cure Period: House Bill 761 introduces a crucial 15-day notice and cure period before plaintiffs can file lawsuits related to text message marketing. This provision offers businesses an opportunity to rectify potential violations before facing legal action.

3. Georgia:

Georgia has taken steps to update its telemarketing and text message laws through Senate Bill 73. These updates have significant implications for businesses engaging in text message marketing within the state.

Key Changes:

  • Private Right of Action: Senate Bill 73 introduces a significant change by providing individuals with a private right of action for violations of Georgia's telemarketing law. This means that individuals who believe they have been subjected to unlawful telemarketing practices can take legal action against violators.
  • Reduced Fines: The bill also reduces the potential fines that businesses may face for each violation. While the previous law allowed fines of up to $2,000 per violation, Senate Bill 73 lowers this cap to $1,000 per violation. This change could potentially affect the financial consequences of non-compliance.
  • Class Action Suits: Perhaps one of the most impactful changes is the bill's provision allowing individuals to file lawsuits on behalf of a putative class. This empowers consumers to collectively seek legal remedies for violations, potentially increasing the liability businesses face for non-compliance.

4. Maryland

In Maryland, the state has taken action to combat spam calls and unwanted telephone solicitations through the Stop the Spam Calls Act of 2023.

Key Provisions:

  • Prior Express Written Consent: The Act prohibits certain telephone solicitations without obtaining prior express written consent from recipients. This requirement ensures that individuals must explicitly first obtain express written consent to receiving marketing messages via text or phone calls.
  • Time and Numerical Restrictions: Maryland's legislation introduces strict time and numerical restrictions on calls. Calls are prohibited between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m., aiming to prevent disturbances during late or early hours. Additionally, the Act limits calls to the same number to no more than three times within a 24-hour period.
  • Enforcement and Penalties: Maryland state officials are authorized to enforce the law, with the ability to impose penalties of up to $1,000 or imprisonment for violations. Furthermore, the Act allows for the possibility of injunctive relief or civil damages in cases of non-compliance.

5. Tennessee

Tennessee has taken a stance similar to Arizona by incorporating text messages into its existing state law on telemarketing.

This legislative move, marked by Senate Bill 868, holds significant implications for businesses engaged in SMS marketing within Tennessee.

Key Points

  • Inclusion of Text Messages: Senate Bill 868 effectively expands the scope of Tennessee's telemarketing law to encompass text messages. This means that regulations governing telemarketing practices now extend to text message marketing as well.
  • Effective Date: The bill came into effect on July 1, signaling the state's commitment to regulating SMS marketing practices within its jurisdiction. Businesses operating in Tennessee must adhere to these updated regulations to ensure compliance and avoid potential penalties.

6. Washington

Washington state has taken comprehensive measures to address unwanted commercial solicitations and misleading caller identification information through the enactment of the Robocall Scam Protection Act.

Key Highlights:

  • Private Right of Action: One of the significant aspects of this legislation is the establishment of a private right of action for plaintiffs. This empowers individuals who have experienced violations related to commercial solicitations or misleading caller identification to take legal action against the perpetrators.
  • Prohibition of Commercial Solicitations: The Robocall Scam Protection Act places restrictions on certain commercial solicitations. It defines an "automatic dialing and announcing device" and bans its use for sending recorded or artificial voice messages once a connection is established. This prohibition extends to messages that go directly to the phone numbers or a recipient's voicemail.
  • Protection Against Misleading Caller ID: Washington also prohibits knowingly causing any caller ID service to transmit misleading, inaccurate, or false caller identification information. This regulation aims to enhance transparency and accountability in telemarketing calls and practices.

Final Thoughts

Navigating the intricate landscape of SMS marketing laws in the United States is essential for businesses aiming to harness the power of text message marketing.

As the SMS marketing landscape continues to evolve, staying abreast of these regulations, adapting marketing strategies, and prioritizing compliance is paramount to protecting both businesses and consumers.

FAQs: SMS Marketing Laws

Is SMS marketing legal?

Yes, SMS marketing is legal in the United States, but it's subject to stringent regulations and requirements. To conduct SMS marketing campaigns legally, businesses must adhere to laws like the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the CAN-SPAM Act, ensuring they have proper consent from recipients, provide opt-out options, and comply with time restrictions.

What are the laws governing text message marketing?

Text message marketing is primarily governed by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) at the federal level. This law sets the foundational rules, including the requirement for obtaining prior express written consent, offering opt-out mechanisms, and adhering to specific timeframes for sending messages. Additionally, individual states may have their own regulations that businesses must follow.

What are the FCC rules for SMS?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) enforces the TCPA, which is the key federal regulation for SMS marketing. The FCC rules require businesses to obtain "prior express written consent" from recipients, offer clear opt-out mechanisms, and adhere to time restrictions for sending messages. The FCC also addresses issues related to robotexts and continues to adapt rules to evolving challenges in wireless communications industry.

What are the regulations for text message marketing in 2023?

In 2023, the regulations for text message marketing remain consistent with previous years, with a focus on obtaining proper consent, providing double opt in and-out options, and following time restrictions. However, there may be updates and adaptations to address emerging issues like robotexts and evolving consumer protection concerns.

Are unsolicited marketing texts illegal?

Yes, unsolicited marketing texts are generally illegal in the United States. The TCPA requires businesses to obtain explicit consent from recipients before sending marketing or promotional messages via text. Failing to do so can result in legal penalties and fines.

Is it illegal to send text messages without prior express consent?

Yes, it is illegal to send text messages for marketing purposes without obtaining proper express consent first from recipients. The TCPA mandates that businesses obtain "prior express written consent" before sending marketing texts. Violating this requirement can lead to legal consequences.

The legal timeframe for texting customers is generally between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., local time, unless you have obtained prior consent to send messages outside of these hours. It's essential to respect these time restrictions to avoid inconveniencing recipients and potential legal issues.

While text messages can be used in legal agreements, a single text message typically does not constitute a comprehensive legal agreement. Legal agreements usually require more detailed documentation and often need to meet specific formalities, depending on the nature of the agreement. Text messages are often used for informal communication or as evidence in legal disputes.

Is SMS marketing regulated?

Yes, SMS marketing is regulated in the United States. Federal regulations like the TCPA and the CAN-SPAM Act impose strict requirements on businesses conducting SMS marketing campaigns. Additionally, individual states may have their own regulations, so it's essential to comply with both federal and state laws.

What are the requirements for text message marketing?

The requirements for text message marketing include obtaining "prior express written consent" for text marketing, from recipients, providing clear opt-out mechanisms, adhering to time restrictions, and complying with federal and state regulations. Businesses must also ensure that their marketing messages are not deceptive or misleading.

What are the SMS rules in the US?

The SMS rules in the United States are primarily governed by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). These rules require businesses to obtain proper consent, offer opt-out options, and follow time restrictions when sending marketing messages via SMS. Compliance with the TCPA is crucial to conducting SMS marketing campaigns legally.

What are the SMS laws in Florida?

Florida has its own regulations related to SMS marketing, known as the Florida Telephone Solicitation Act (FTSA). These laws align with federal requirements but may have specific provisions that apply to businesses operating within the state. Businesses conducting SMS marketing in Florida must adhere to both federal and state laws to ensure compliance.

What is Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA)?

This trade group is how telecommunications moguls get a seat at the table from a legislative standpoint. This group represents the interests of the wireless industry.


Content business


Memberships sites



Coaching / Consulting


Local businesses

Digital products


Live chat