Send SMS in New Zealand

Navigate the regional rules of using SMS as a business in New Zealand.

Gareth Burroughes avatar
Written by Gareth Burroughes
Updated over a week ago

With an average of 1.14 phones per person, New Zealand is strongly connected to the world of SMS. Here are some powerful insights into the current state of SMS:

  • In 2022, 83.7% of the global population own a smartphone, that’s 6.65 billion people

  • 92% (7.3 billion) own a mobile phone and have the ability to send and receive SMS

  • SMS takes on average six seconds to be delivered

  • 60% of messages are read within 5 minutes

  • Consumers redeem SMS delivered coupons 10x more than other types of coupons

  • Omnichannel consumers have a 30% higher lifetime than those using one channel

  • SMS can increase email open rates by 30%

  • 22% of text messages are forwarded on to friends and family when they are considered to be valuable to the reader

  • Spam messages making up less than 5% of texts received

  • Global A2P SMS traffic is forecast to grow a further 25-30% by 2029

An example text message:


It’s clear to see why businesses are turning more and more to texting customers. SMS is a valuable channel for both reach and ROI. But the complexities of using SMS as a business can often stop brands sending at all. In this guide, we’ll explain how to start using SMS in New Zealand with ease.

Gathering opt-ins

There are many ways to get customers to opt-in for SMS marketing, but it must be very clear and provable that they have explicitly and knowingly opted in.

Screen shots and URL’s of the opt-in process will need to be shown as part of applying for a shortcode.

Some ways are:

  • Asking for phone numbers at the point of customer sign up on your website, as long as opt-in for SMS is clearly a separate option to email opt-in.

  • You can use our pages and forms functionality to create on-brand data capture with ease either on your site or using an email campaign.

  • Provide incentives for customers to sign up via ‘text-to-join’ campaigns, by advertising a number online or in-person that they can text to opt in.

  • Whatever you choose, it’s important to ensure you have full consent to send to your customers so that you comply with New Zealand law under the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007, and of course give a positive brand experience.

While we provide many tools to help you manage your data and make life easier, we always recommend you speak to your own legal counsel or with the MBIE to ensure compliance. A good place to start, is to check that any numbers you’ve already collected for SMS marketing were collected with ‘explicit opt-in’. This just means making sure you’ve made clear you will be using SMS to contact your customer, and that you haven’t relied on assumed consent from activity, pre-ticked box or your T&Cs.

Opting out

When sending marketing messages via SMS in New Zealand, you should give your recipients the ability to opt out via SMS within every message. Opt-out must be free unless stated in T&C’s as part of the opt-in process. Transactional messages like order updates, do not require a way for recipients to opt out.

Key regulatory bodies and legal links

The below is a guide to give a sense of the regulatory framework. This is not legal advice, and we recommend you get professional legal guidance to ensure you adhere to any applicable laws.

Relevant regulations for New Zealand are:

Some relevant links:

MBIE The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment – delivers policy, services, advice and regulation including for the telecoms sector TCF The Telecommunications Industry Forum (TCF) – an industry body representing telecommunications providers. It establishes and implements industry-led codes

What you need for sending in New Zealand

Since 2022 businesses are only allowed to send SMS from a dedicated shortcode (like 1234). A dedicated shortcode is a 4 digit number that can be owned and used by one brand. If SMS are sent from a from name (a brand name) and long numbers (looks like a mobile number) they are no longer reliable but may still give a positive receipt. To have any confidence in delivery it is therefore vital to use a shortcode.

There are 2 types of code available, Standard Rate and Freetext. For marketing SMS, you must use a Freetext code.

  • Standard: For transactional messages only. End user will be charged to send inbound messages. Message charge is set by networks

  • Freetext: For marketing type messages. Inbound messages are free to the end user but are charged back with a nominally higher code rental rate

What you need to know to apply for a short code

It takes 2-3 weeks to provision following an application, providing all required information is correct/sufficient.

Information required to obtain a dedicated shortcode

You will need to get clear what you want from your code before applying. We can guide you through providing it in a way that will be accepted. We are experienced at guiding you through what is needed and getting it right before applying


In Short:

  • Registration – Is needed since a dedicated shortcode is the only official way to send SMS messages.

  • From name (Sender Id) must be your dedicated shortcode (Standard or Freetext). The company name or brand needs to be included in the SMS so messages are identifiable.

  • Opting In - Having good proof of opt-in is vital since there are strict anti-spam laws. It is possible that even with this some marketing traffic may be blocked.

  • Opting Out – it’s vital to make this easy for using a direct reply within the message instead of a URL.

  • Long SMS – Sending more than one segment (160 characters) is supported.

  • Restrictions – The Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015 bans any material that could be considered threatening or offensive including damaging rumours. Phishing is illegal and can result in the networks blocking the shortcode.

  • Example Message - From 1234: SnowYo here inviting you to go to https://Snow.Yo/XYZ to see our Spring sales items, reply STOP to opt-out.

Learn more in Get started with SMS.

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