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How to Verify USA and Canada Toll-free Numbers for A2P Messaging
How to Verify USA and Canada Toll-free Numbers for A2P Messaging

Toll-free numbers will need to be registered to send automated messages

Erica Hoelper avatar
Written by Erica Hoelper
Updated over a week ago

Learn the verification process for SMS on toll-free numbers to be used in North America, and why it is necessary for your business.

User Level:

  • Account Manager

  • Admin

Why do I need to verify for my toll-free numbers for SMS?

Due to a growing volume of spam and and unsolicited messaging in their countries, major operators in the USA and Canada have set parameters for registering all types of messaging done by legitimate businesses, and specific channels have been introduced for this verified A2P (Application-to-Person) traffic.

By default from carrier requirements, a single US business can register up to 5 numbers for verification with no additional steps, carrier may grant exceptions for specific use cases.

A single Canadian business can register 1 number for verification with no additional steps.

There are 2 kinds of SMS traffic-types:

USA and Canadian operators now classify all messages from toll-free numbers as business traffic, which fall under A2P protocol and must run along designated A2P routes.

  1. P2P (Peer-to-peer) traffic occurs between two parties without automated triggers or a commercial use case, and is conversational in nature. P2P/SMPP routes are typically used on standard mobile networks and are no longer allowed to be used to send commercial messages.

  2. A2P (Application-to-person) is defined as any kind of messaging sent from a commercial platform, including both business-based conversational messaging and automated messaging like follow-ups, notifications, marketing messages, OTPs (one time passwords), 2FA, etc

What if I don't verify my toll-free numbers for A2P Messages?

CloudTalk's carriers' deadline for toll-free messaging verification is November 8th, 2023, after which they will no longer be able to send outbound messages.

Prior to the November 8th deadline, unverified toll-free numbers will be limited to the following messaging volumes, and all messages after this threshold will be blocked by USA and Canadian operators:

  • Unverified Numbers: 500 messages per day, 1000 per week, or 2000 messages per month

After we have submitted the verification request for your numbers, these limits will increase during the pending verification period (2-3 weeks):

  • Numbers Pending Verification: 2000 messages per day, 6000 per week, or 10,000 messages per month

What information do I need to verify my toll-free numbers?

This Registration is composed of 3 parts, detailed in the following sections:

  1. Your Business Information (name, address, contact, etc)

  2. The type of messaging use case

  3. Evidence of Consumer Opt-in to Receive messages
    *(mandatory, see section What if I don't have an "OPT-IN" Workflow? below, if you do not have an established opt-in proof)

After you have read this article and compiled all the necessary information listed in the following sections, please submit the information regarding your business and use case to our numbering support department via this form.

Carrier verification typically takes 1-3 weeks. We will register your toll-free number with our carrier of USA numbers, and let you know when it is complete. 

  1. This registration must be done by the business that the consumer believes they are interacting with when they submit their phone number. For example, if you're a BPO or business that is contracted to do support for another business, the business client would be who registers.

  2. Certain industries and use cases are prohibited from using USA/CAN networks to send commercial SMS on a country-wide level by the national operators. (ex. CBD, vape, MLM companies)

    Before beginning, this process, please double-check in our help center article that your SMS use case is not restricted based on USA carrier regulations.

  1. Your Legal Business Name and Trading Name, or the name of the company the consumer means to interact with if you are a BPO.

  2. Corporate Website

    1. This should be the business name from the first field, and can include social media links (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) if the business does not have a traditional website.

  3. Business Address (street, city, state, and zip code)

    1. This should be the physical location of the end business your customers engage with.

  4. Business Compliance Contact (first and last name, email address, phone number)

    1. Though this person will not be contacted, this should be someone verifiably connected to the business and message usage - such as the operations/marketing/IT admin who is setting up the messaging services on CloudTalk.

  5. Expected Monthly Message Volume

    1. If you're ramping up, please use the value of where you expect to be in 6 months.

  6. Phone number(s) to be verified:
    *you can leave this blank if you are doing this in unison with a first-time number purchase, and CloudTalk will add the newly purchased numbers to your form

  7. Use Case Category

    1. List the main category that best fits the type of messages you will be sending. For example: General Marketing, Customer Support, Automated followups, P2P communication.

  8. Description of the Use Case/Summary

    1. Provide one or more sentences describing the full use case. For example: This number is used to send out promotional offers and coupons to the customers of [your business].

  9. Production (Sample) Message Content

    1. include samples of the exact messages you will be sending to customers, including an opt-out in alignment with USA operator guidelines.

  10. Opt-in Workflow Description

    In detail, describe how a consumer or subscriber opts in to receive messages. Single phrases like "online form" will not be accepted - describe the full process.

    The submitted "opt-in location" should be a link that shows where the customer provides their phone number to your business, and include "opt-in language" making it clear they will receive messages from your business by continuing.

    This can be a simple check box on your contact form that says something like
    √ - I would like to receive [support/operational/promotional] messages from [Company Name]

    Examples of this can be:

    1. online sign-up or contact form on your website (URL, screenshot/webpage)

    2. sign-up form within your app or behind a login

    3. in-store (keyword, signage)

    4. IVR script telling the customer they will receive a follow up SMS from you

  11. Opt-in Location Image or URLs

    We need to send the carrier evidence of how your customer agrees to receive SMS from your business, and a visual image of the "opt-in location", where the customer gives their number to you, confirming that they are aware in advance that they may receive SMS by continuing.

    This can be:

    1. URL to the contact section or sign-up section of your website

    2. Link to an image of the opt-in section if opt-in is behind a login, download, or subscription.

      1. It is not possible for us to submit images to the carriers - only URLs or hosted images.

      2. Please send a link to a screenshot or hosted image of the menu or webpage for the carriers to verify

  12. Additional Supporting Details

    1. Include any additional details that you believe will help with the verification, such as privacy policies, AUPs, additional onboarding controls, links, etc.

After we receive this information from you, we will submit the details to our carrier, who will verify your use case for USA operators. During this pending stage, the sending limits will be extended. Our Team will confirm with you when our carrier has moved your numbers to a verified status.

What if I don't have an "OPT-IN" Workflow?

Even if you are only messaging existing contacts or don't believe your use case requires an opt-in, evidence of consumer consent (the opt-in URL) is mandatory to register toll-free messaging. You must do this in order to be eligible for number verification.

If you don't have an established opt-in workflow, you may need to adapt the copy on your website, order forms (online or printed), or IVR to explicitly gain customer consent for sending messages.

The Opt-in Requirement

The proof of consumer opt-in is a mandatory requirement set by external operators in the USA and Canada. It is not a policy which is able to be influenced by our team at CloudTalk.

Our role is to guide you through the process and send your toll-free verification request to the external carriers. If we cannot document a place where the consumer agrees to receive messages from your business, the verification request will be rejected.

We are happy to help advise you on the easiest way to integrate the A2P opt-in requirements into your specific company workflow. This can be as easy as adding:

  • a check box on an online or paper order form, saying the customer understands they will receive SMS updates on the status of their order

  • a recording within the IVR, where the customer can press a key to consent to receive a follow up message after the call

  • a line on the contact section of your website, informing customers that when they reach out to your helplines, they may receive an SMS follow a missed call

After you have read this article and compiled all the necessary information, please submit the information regarding your business and use case to our numbering support department via this form.

We will register your toll-free with our carrier of USA numbers.

Have more questions? We have answers. Reach out to our Numbering Support team. We're always happy to help!

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