How to Send SMS to the UAE

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Satyam Gupta

mins read

December 26, 2023

How to send SMS to the UAE

Key Takeaways

  1. There are various regulations to enable A2P messaging in the UAE including TDRA registration for A2P SMS, sender ID requirements etc.
  2. Organizations also have to adhere to promotional SMS guidelines, opt out instructions, URL filterting and penalties
  3. There is a sequential order of steps to be followed like TRA registration, select and SMS gateway provider etc.
  4. There is a separate set of requirements for international companies to be able to send A2P SMS
  5. Additional considerations like time restrictions, special characters in sender ID etc. are also there

To send SMS messages to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), it's crucial to navigate a series of stringent regulations and requirements. The same is the case with a lot of middle eastern nations. Here's an in-depth guide to help you understand and comply with these rules. You can also contact the team at Message Central for more help.

UAE SMS Regulations Overview

  1. Strict Regulation Environment: The UAE has stringent messaging regulations, and mobile carriers enforce strict filters on all SMS messages. This affects the delivery of even critical or time-sensitive (Application-to-Person) A2P messages​​​​.
  2. Sender ID Registration: All SMS messages must be sent from registered Sender IDs. Unregistered Sender IDs will be blocked. Alpha Sender IDs should be case-sensitive and include the brand name. Numeric and generic Sender IDs (e.g., INFO, SMS) are prohibited​​​​​​.
  3. TDRA Registration for A2P SMS: Organizations sending A2P SMS to UAE customers must register their messaging traffic with the UAE Telecommunications and Digital Regulatory Authority (TRDA).
  4. Promotional SMS Guidelines: Promotional SMS messages must start with the prefix "AD-" and are only allowed between 7 AM and 9 PM UAE standard time. They cannot contain political, religious, unsolicited promotion, gambling content, or links to WhatsApp/LINE chats. Marketing traffic must have prior consent, and effective unsubscribe facilities should be available​​​​​​.
  5. Opt-Out Instructions: Each SMS message must include an opt-out option within the text body. This regulation does not apply to databases of customers who have given written consent to receive messages​​​​.
  6. Content Restrictions: Sending gambling, adult content, money/loan, political, religious, controlled substance, cannabis, and alcohol-related content is strictly prohibited​​​​.
  7. Health Services Content: For health services related Sender ID registration, an approval letter from the UAE health authorities is required​​.
  8. URL Filtering and Penalties: URLs in messages are sensitive, and unapproved URLs can lead to delivery issues. Violations of format can result in significant penalties.

Step-by-Step Guide for Sending SMS to the UAE

  1. Obtain TRA Registration: Register with the TRA to obtain a license for sending A2P SMS messages in the UAE. This involves an application form, relevant documentation, and applicable fees​​.
  2. Select an SMS Gateway Provider: Choose a reputable provider like Message Now, offering reliable connectivity and support​​.
  3. Integrate SMS Gateway API: Incorporate the provider's SMS API into your system for seamless SMS transmission​​.
  4. Apply for SMS Sender ID: This unique identifier will appear as the sender of your messages. The TRA reviews and approves these IDs​​.
  5. Localize and Personalize SMS Content: Adapt messages to the UAE’s cultural context, language preferences, and personalize them for the recipients​​.
  6. Comply with Data Privacy Laws: Follow the UAE's Personal Data Protection Law when handling customer data for SMS marketing​​.
  7. Include Opt-Out in SMS: Ensure each message has an opt-out instruction in English or Arabic​​.
  8. Monitor and Test SMS Service: Regularly check delivery rates and feedback for continuous improvement​​.

Specifics for International Companies

International companies need to register with a TRA-approved SMS gateway provider. The process includes providing a trade license or equivalent, identification documents, a letter of authorization, and payment of the registration fee​​​​.

Additional Considerations

  1. Time Restrictions: SMS messages are restricted to certain hours, typically between 7 AM and 9 PM​​.
  2. Consent Database: For promotional messages, maintaining a consent database on the Consent Management Service (CMS) platform is mandatory​​.
  3. Special Characters in Sender IDs: Only specific special characters are allowed​​.
  4. Understanding and complying with these regulations is essential for successfully sending SMS messages to the UAE. It ensures legal compliance and effective message delivery, crucial for any SMS-based communication strategy, especially for services like Message Now.

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