SMS Compliance Checklist: Ensuring Your SMS Forms Meet Legal Standards

Philip Portman
Last Updated:

2 Feb 2024

Published On:

22 Jan 2024

min read

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Businesses are using SMS marketing more and more these days to interact with consumers and increase sales. Strict guidelines, intended to safeguard customer privacy and avoid spam, apply to the use of text messages for marketing reasons.


Heavy fines and reputational harm to a business may result from noncompliance with these regulations. For this reason, companies must make sure that their SMS marketing procedures comply with applicable laws.

We'll provide you with a thorough SMS compliance checklist in this post to make sure your forms for collecting consumer data and SMS marketing adhere to legal requirements. First, let's define SMS compliance as follows:


What is SMS Compliance?


The rules and regulations governing text messages sent by companies to their clients for marketing purposes via the SMS channel are referred to as SMS compliance. These guidelines must be followed by organizations to uphold moral principles, safeguard customer privacy, and stay out of legal hot water.


Getting receivers' express agreement before sending messages, offering an opt-out option, and maintaining communication transparency are all crucial components of SMS compliance. There could be penalties, harm to the reputation of the company, and even legal action if there is noncompliance.


Why SMS Compliance Is Important?


Here are a few reasons why SMS compliance is important:

  • Consumer Trust

When people know their privacy is respected, they are more likely to engage with and trust your messages.


  • Legal Consequences

Many countries have strict regulations governing SMS communication to protect consumers. Non-compliance can lead to legal consequences, including hefty fines and sanctions.

  • Brand Reputation

SMS compliance is integral to maintaining a positive brand image. Violating regulations can tarnish a company's reputation, leading to customer distrust and a loss of business.

  • Optimized Communication

Adhering to compliance ensures that your messages reach an audience genuinely interested in your content. This leads to better engagement and a more effective communication strategy.

  • Data Security

Compliance measures often involve safeguarding customer data. Implementing secure practices not only keeps you compliant but also protects sensitive information from potential breaches.


What are the Key Laws and Regulations Governing SMS Compliance?


The two key regulations that significantly impact SMS compliance are the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

  1. Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA): Enforced in the United States, the TCPA focuses on protecting consumers from unsolicited communication. Key provisions include restrictions on automated calls and text messages, requirements for obtaining prior express written consent, and guidelines for maintaining clear opt-out mechanisms.
  2. GDPR for International Considerations: For businesses engaging in international SMS communication, the GDPR is a crucial consideration. Enforced in the European Union, it mandates stringent rules regarding the processing of personal data, emphasizing transparency, data subject rights, and lawful processing.

Key Provisions Impacting SMS Forms


Here are some key provisions that impact the SMS forms:

  • Consent Requirements

Both the TCPA and GDPR emphasize the importance of obtaining explicit and informed consent before sending any SMS. Businesses must provide the purpose of the communication, the types of messages to be sent, and make the opt-in process straightforward.

  • Opt-In and Opt-Out Mechanisms

Compliance requires businesses to implement user-friendly opt-in and opt-out mechanisms in their forms. Recipients should have easy ways to subscribe, and equally simple means to unsubscribe from further communications, ensuring a seamless and respectful user experience.

  • Message Content Restrictions

Legal standards impose restrictions on the content of SMS messages to prevent misleading or deceptive information. Messages must be accurate, relevant to the consent given, and should not include prohibited content.

  • Frequency and Timing Limitations

Regulations often set limits on the frequency and timing of SMS messages. Businesses must respect designated quiet hours and avoid excessive communication to prevent annoyance or intrusion.

SMS Compliance Checklist


Use this SMS Compliance Checklist to confirm that your SMS forms align with established legal requirements:

  1. Explicit Consent
  • Obtain explicit consent from recipients before sending SMS messages.
  • Clearly articulate the purpose of the messages and the nature of the content they can expect.
  1. Opt-In and Opt-Out Mechanisms
  • Implement clear and user-friendly opt-in processes for subscribers.
  • Provide easily accessible opt-out options, allowing recipients to unsubscribe effortlessly.
  1. Content Compliance
  • Ensure that SMS content complies with legal standards, avoiding misleading or deceptive information.
  • Regularly review and update message content to maintain relevance and compliance.
  1. Frequency and Timing
  • Adhere to regulations specifying the frequency and timing of SMS messages.
  • Respect designated quiet hours and refrain from excessive messaging to prevent recipient annoyance.
  1. Data Protection and Privacy
  • Safeguard customer data in accordance with data protection regulations.
  • Clearly communicate your organization's privacy policy regarding the handling of personal information.
  1. Documentation and Record-Keeping
  • Maintain detailed records of consent and opt-in details for each subscriber.
  • Document communication preferences and any changes made to the SMS program.
  1. Compliance with Specific Regulations
  • Ensure adherence to region-specific regulations, such as the Telephone Consumer 
  • Protection Act (TCPA) or the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
  1. Regular Audits and Reviews
  • Conduct periodic audits of your SMS compliance practices.
  • Stay informed about updates or changes in relevant regulations and adjust practices accordingly.
  1. Training and Awareness
  • Provide training for staff involved in SMS communications to ensure awareness of compliance requirements.
  • Regularly update team members on any changes to regulations or industry best practices.
  1. Response Handling
  • Establish a process for handling opt-out requests promptly and efficiently.
  • Address customer queries or concerns related to SMS communication promptly and professionally.

The Impact of GDPR and TCPA on Consent Forms and Data Subject Rights


GDPR and TCPA compliance regulations play pivotal roles in shaping SMS compliance. These regulations establish clear guidelines for obtaining consent and safeguarding data subject rights in text messaging. Here’s how they impact consent forms and data subject rights:


1. GDPR and SMS Compliance

GDPR emphasizes the need for explicit and informed consent before processing personal data. When it comes to SMS, businesses must ensure that users explicitly opt-in to receive messages and are fully aware of the purposes for which their data will be used.


SMS communications must provide clear information about the sender's identity, the purpose of the messages, and how recipients can opt out. Consent is an ongoing process, and individuals should have the ability to withdraw their consent at any time.


GDPR grants individuals several rights over their personal data. SMS campaigns must allow users to access their data, correct inaccuracies, and request the deletion of their information. Companies handling SMS communications should be prepared to fulfill these requests promptly.


2. TCPA and SMS Compliance

The TCPA, enacted in the United States, requires businesses to obtain express written consent before sending commercial text messages. This means clear and unambiguous permission from the recipient, specifying their agreement to receive SMS communications.


The regulations also stipulate compliance with the National Do Not Call Registry. Marketers must ensure that they do not send SMS messages to individuals who have opted out or registered their numbers on the Do Not Call list.


TCPA mandates the inclusion of an opt-out mechanism in every SMS message. Recipients should be able to easily unsubscribe from receiving further messages by replying with a simple keyword or through another straightforward process.


Why is it Essential to Update SMS Forms and Processes Regularly to Align with Legal Standards?


Regular compliance audits are essential for organizations to assess the effectiveness of their adherence to regulations. By systematically reviewing processes and practices, businesses can identify areas of non-compliance, implement corrective measures, and continually increase their commitment to meeting legal requirements.


Remaining vigilant about legal updates and changes is crucial in the dynamic regulatory environment. Organizations must stay informed about shifts in laws and regulations that impact their industry, allowing them to adapt policies and procedures to maintain compliance promptly.

This proactive awareness minimizes the risk of non-compliance and positions the organization to navigate legal complexities effectively.


How Should Organizations Document Their Compliance Measures?


Maintaining accurate and thorough records is a fundamental aspect of demonstrating compliance and accountability.


1. Maintaining Records of Consent

Documenting explicit consent is critical. Keeping detailed records of user consent not only satisfies regulatory requirements but also serves as evidence of the organization's commitment to ethical data-handling practices.


2. Documenting Compliance Measures Taken

Recording the steps taken to achieve and maintain compliance is essential for accountability. This documentation not only provides a historical record of compliance efforts but also aids in future audits, showcasing the organization's dedication to due diligence.


3. Record Retention Policies

Establishing clear record retention policies ensures that records are retained for the required duration, meeting regulatory standards. Well-defined policies help manage data efficiently, balancing the need for historical documentation with privacy considerations.




Keeping SMS compliance in check is crucial for trust and legal credibility. Remember, ongoing vigilance and sticking to the rules are key. It's not just about following the law; it's about ensuring ethical and responsible practices in the ever-changing world of data protection and privacy.


By integrating compliance into their marketing strategies and staying informed about regulatory changes, businesses can leverage the power of SMS marketing while remaining compliant with the law.

Philip Portman

Philip Portman is the Founder/CEO of Textdrip, a business texting platform for e-commerce and retail, hotel and hospitality, Insurance, real estate, and healthcare. He has created several startups from the ground up like; landlineremover.comargosautomation.com, and recruitdrip.com. He is a leading expert in SMS Marketing and Automation in Digital Marketing.

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