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UK - Premium SMS Regulations


The regulations in the UK caters and covers all of the mobile payment types, that includes Premium SMS BillingStandard Rate Services, WAP Billing and Short Codes.




    ~ Premium Carriers

Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA) are responsible for governing premium and standard rate short codes in the United Kingdom. See the PSA website for the regulatory document, the 14th Code of Practice which came into force in 2016. 

Of significant importance are the sections regarding "GENERAL GUIDANCE NOTES - Due diligence and risk assessment and control on clients."



  ee-logo-uk.png  EE (Everything Everywhere)                          txtNation_screenshot_05_Oct._18_12.40.01.gifThree


txtNation_screenshot_07_Oct._18_12.40.55.gifO2                                                        vf-logo-uk.jpg  Vodafone


  Manx Telecom                                        jerseytel.gif Jersey Telecom


   Sure_Logo.png Sure


Everything Everywhere is the United Kingdom's largest mobile network operator, formed from Orange U.K. and T-mobile uk. The company is a joint venture between France Télécom and Deutsche Telekom, owners of Orange and T-Mobile respectively. Everything Everywhere began operations on 11 May 2010. It is planned that eventually the networks of Orange and T-Mobile will be integrated, with both brands continuing to provide distinct products and services. They are still treated like separate carriers and the network names Orange and T-Mobile are still used.

In addition to the above there are a number Mobile Virtual Network Operators. A mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) is a company that provides mobile phone services but does not have its own licensed frequency allocation of radio spectrum, nor does it necessarily have all of the infrastructure required to provide mobile telephone service. Click here to see a full list of UK MVNOs, you will notice they run on the back of the supported carriers above.




Payforit is a carrier backed and mandated online billing system in the UK. This is the current (as of September 2017) supported image to use when promoting Payforit.


Market Statistics

- Proportion of adults who personally own/use a mobile phone in the UK 89% (Q1 2010)

- Proportion of adults who live in a home that has a mobile phone but no landline phone in the  UK 14% (Q1 2010)

- How many PAYG mobile subscriptions in the UK ? 59% (end 2009)

- Number of text messages sent per mobile subscription per month 111

- Number of 3G mobile subscriptions in the UK 32% (end 2009)

- Number of fixed residential broadband connections in the UK 16.8 million (Q4 2009).

- Proportion of adults with broadband in the UK (fixed + mobile) 71% (Q1 2010)

- Proportion of adults with mobile broadband in the UK 15% (Q1 2010)

- Number of people who use their mobile handset to access the internet 18% (Q1 2010)


Further Information

For a detailed summary of the communications market in the UK please see for more information.


Approval Process

If you’re a network operator or premium rate service provider (including charities), you need to register with the Phone-paid Services Authority. You must also renew your registration annually. Please see the information on register or renew your registration page for more details. 

If you want to set up a premium rate service in the UK, you need to complete a number of steps:

1. Read our Code of Practice and guidance

The Code of Practice sets out the rules for the premium rate industry, such as clear and accurate pricing.

2. What services are subject to Special Conditions under the 14th Code of Practice?

Special conditions may apply to the service you wish to set up and the Phone-paid Services Authority may  apply prior permission rules to certain services where consumers require extra protection. Find out more about Special conditions.

3. Check the background of those you contract with

You must check the background of premium rate organisations that you intend to contract or have commercial arrangements with and ensure consumers are not put at risk.

4. Register with Phone-paid Services Authority

Before providing any services, you need to register with Phone-paid Services Authority, unless you are exempt from registration.

5. Submit your premium rate service and numbers

After you’ve registered, you must submit details of your premium rate service and numbers online within 2 working days of them being active.


Also when applying for a dedicated code your draft promotions should be submitted to txtNation. Your draft promotions must be submitted in English. You should not put any promotions in a public place before they have been approved. 

As part of the application process for a dedicated code you will need to complete 2, possibly 3 forms:

1) As part of the application process for you will need to complete a txtNation Customer Care Form (CCF). Used to submit to the carriers for them to provision the shortcode, and used ongoing to ensure that your service tests the same as the approval.

2) Register as an information provider via the Phone-paid Services Authority website.

3) If you are running one of the below services you will need to seek additional approval from the Phone-paid Services Authority:

  • Live services
  • Subscription services 
  • Pay-per-page/image services
  • Participation Broadcasting
  • Remote gambling
  • Professional advice
  • Chat-lines(multi party chat)
  • Consumer credit
  • Counseling
  • Anonymous SMS
  • Voice based, text charged services
  • Call tv quiz services
  • Services utilizing a dialler software
  • Services charged at more than £1 per minute where the total cost of the call can exceed £30
  • Services charged at more than £1.50 per minute. 

For more detailed information on Phone-paid Services Authority special conditions please visit here.


Promotion Guidelines 

You can find full regulatory information about setting up services via Phone-paid Services Authority' "14th Code of Practice". Here is a summary of information that should be present on your promotions to help ensure your service is compliant:

Non Subscription Service

- Price displayed in a format such as "£x.xx + standard network rates", e.g "Text ABC to 12345. £1.50 + standard network rates". Formats such as: 150p, 1.50GBP are not accepted.

- Price immediately following the short code / keywords.

- Price in at least 50% font size of the short code / keywords.

- Service promoted by {insert your Phone-paid Services Authority registration name}.

- If your service is a competition, provide a free route of entry and the user must answer a question correctly to be entered into the draw to win.

- "Need help? {Insert non-premium helpline number}.


Subscription Services

On all web pages where the shortcode is shown and you are running a subscription service the following needs to be present:

- Price displayed in a format such as "£x.xx per week + standard network rates", e.g "Text ABC to 12345. £1.50 per week + standard network rates." Formats such as: 150p, 1.50GBP are not accepted.

- Price immediately following the short code / keywords.

- Price in at least 50% font size of the short code / keywords.

- Price:(insert cost per week or message price and frequency). To stop text "STOP" to (Insert your shortcode). Support: (Insert your customer service number and email address). Service provided by (enter your contact address here. P.O. box numbers not allowed).


Phone-paid Services Authority offer an excellent screening service where you can contact them for compliance advice. You should do this before you start trading, ideally in a password protected environment, however you can seek compliance advice at any time. You can contact Phone-paid Services Authority via:

  • Email ''
  • Write to Policy Development Unit, Phone-paid Services Authority, 25th floor, 40 Bank Street, London, E14 5NR 

More information is available on this free service via PSA's Contact Industry Support page.

Note that whilst Phone-paid Services Authority can provide initial pre-screening they also adjudicate against breaches as they occur. They react to user complaints and investigate accordingly. Phone-paid Services Authority have reported that they feel it prudent to advise that 20 complaints in a month (regardless of whether it is a small percentage of users) is more than enough to warrant an escalation to ensure your service is compliant. E.g. if you or PSA are getting complaints, you should make moves to ensure your service is compliant. 


Message Flow Requirements

Unless using PayForIt (where the messages are managed for you), web based opt-ins require a MO (Mobile Originating) message to be sent to start the subscription service, for example:

Text (your keyword) to short code. Following the opt-in:

     ~ Transactional services can simply return the billed message. 

     ~ Subscription Services - in a 7 day period require a free message that must be sent before the first billing message and every month whilst they are subscribed, these standard rate messages should be prefixed with "[FreeMsg]:". For example:

[FreeMsg]Welcome to (company name). This subscription service costs (insert cost per week or message price and frequency). To cancel send the word "stop" to {shortcode). Support:(Insert your non premium customer service number).

       ~ Monthly reminder message every month or every £20 spent; whichever comes first with the format on the Phone-paid Services Authority website. e.g.

[FreeMsg]Welcome to (company name). This subscription service costs (insert cost per week or message price and frequency). To cancel send the word "stop" to {shortcode). Help:(Insert your non premium customer service number).

Please note these are just a summary of the common issues, for full details see the PSA 14th Code of Practice.


Billing Types

We operate both Mobile Originated (MO) and Mobile Terminated (MT) billing on dedicated lines in the United Kingdom. See forum entry "What are the SMS billing types available?" for more information on these billing types.

EE update -

Effective 1st February 2015, Split Billing will no longer be allowed. For the avoidance of doubt, split billing is where for example, a consumer purchases a product for £6 and subsequently receives 4 x £1.50 MT Messages. In order for the EE consumer experience to be improved and enhanced, from 1st February, providers must only send consumers 1 single SMS MT at the appropriate tariff (for example: 1 x £3 SMS MT). Services which are charged at £10 and above, Split Billing may be implemented in multiples of £5 (prior permission from EE required).


Service Types

Most service types are allowed, however some must follow specific guidelines outlined by the regulator - Phone-paid Services Authority (see "Approval Process" above).

See here for a set of PSA's general requirements applicable to all premium rate services in the UK along with specific advice for certain service types, such as psychic, subscriptions, competitions and gambling.

To run competitions, all promotional material should provide clear details as to how the competition operates. Consumers must be made aware, before entering into the service, of any information that is likely to affect their decision to participate. Clear terms and conditions should include, but are not limited to:

* Information on any restrictions on number of entries or prizes that can be won; 
* The incremental cost and the full cost of participation, where this is known; 
* An adequate description, including the quality, of all prizes and other items being offered, and a clear list of the numbers of each prize on offer; 
* Information on any restrictions placed on the availability of those prizes being offered; 
* Where the prize consists of vouchers, either the value of a single voucher, or the total value, should be stated; 
* The closing date and time of the competition, except in instances where there are only instant prize winners. Please note that, if no time is provided, the service is presumed to close at midnight on the day of the competition.


Short code 

Short code - Designation

50000 – 59999 Reserved for future expansion and dual UK/ROI services

60000 – 68999 Open-ended fixed fee per message or call or open-ended time dependent services

69000 – 69999 Open-ended fee per message or call (as a fixed fee) or open-ended time dependent services that are aimed at an adult (18 years and over) audience including PSA defined Sexual Entertainment Services.

70000 – 77999 Reserved for future expansion

78000 – 78999 Classified as a range to be used for payment facilities for products or services where the product or service is not delivered to the mobile phone. This range is subject to restrictions on usage and charging.

79000 – 79999 Classified as a range to be used for payment facilities for products or services aimed at an adult (18 years and over) audience and where the product or service is not delivered to the mobile phone. This range is subject to restrictions on usage and charging. It is the responsibility of the provider of the service to validate the age of the user as being over 18 and all applicable UK laws must be adhered to.

80000 – 88999 Open-ended fixed fee per message or call or open-ended time dependent services

89000 – 89999 Open-ended fixed fee per message or call or open-ended time dependent services aimed at an adult (18 years and over) audience including PSA defined Sexual Entertainment Services.


Frequency and Amount

A carrier imposed rule is that services should not cost more than £30 per user per day and revenue can be clawed back if this is exceeded - this extends to a monthly limit for transactions on Vodafone, EE and O2. PSA regulations state that some services have different spending caps and the full code should be examined, for example:

Unless permission to do otherwise is specifically granted by Phone-paid Services Authority, service providers must ensure that pay-for-products:

a) do not cost more than £30,

b) include an introductory message giving the total cost of the service and adequate information about how the service works,

c) require access to the service to take place only once to enable delivery of the product.


Retry Policies 

Please see for information regarding retry policies for attempted, but non-billed messages in the UK. 



The standard rate of VAT is 20%. All UK mobile carriers have confirmed they will be retaining the existing end-user tariff points, so a £1.50 tariff point - £1.25+20% VAT.   

Your Premium SMS Revenue Share rates for traffic generated from 1st January 2011 will be as follows: 

End-user retail price Inc VAT 

Revenue Share Reduction 

£0.10 - £0.49

1.2% of end-user price inc VAT

£0.50 - £4.99

1.4% of end-user price inc VAT

£5.00 and above

1.6% of end-user price inc VAT


Worked example (rates for illustration only): 

End-user price (inc VAT) 


Current rev share (excl VAT) 


%age of end-user price reduction 


Revenue share reduction (excl VAT) 


Revenue share (excl VAT) from 01/01/2011 


The current rate of tax in the UK is also available via Wikipedia.

The outpayments on our rate cards are exclusive of VAT, so if you are VAT registered you can claim a higher outpayment than is shown.


Dedicated Codes 

Dedicated codes are available with a 6 week lead time depending on carrier availability, the carriers approve based on their backlog, the time of year, price point and service type. You can read more about Short Code Coverage, SMS Billing Services and Mobile Payments in the UK via the txtNation Gateway.

The UK has the following Mobile Payment options available, all of which fall under these regulations:

  • Premium SMS (P-SMS) including Short Code services
  • WAP Billing

Additional options for Mobile Payments and Messaging in the UK include:

  • HLR Lookup
  • Bulk SMS

Note: This page is updated as frequently as possible when we are informed from the regulators or mobile operators in United Kingdom of a change or update in regulations. There may be a latest version of Premium SMS, Mobile Payments or Short Code Regulations in United Kingdom, to which you must abide by and be responsible for being aware of. Please contact your account manager for more information.

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  • Avatar
    Compliance Team

    United Kingdom

    Date of announcement: 26th April 2012

    Required time to make below changes: Immediately

    PhonepayPlus today issues a Compliance Update on Due Diligence and Risk Assessment and Control.

    The PhonepayPlus independent Tribunal recently adjudicated and upheld breaches on rules relating to Due Diligence and Risk Assessment and Control. Today's Compliance Update clarifies the grounds on which the breaches were upheld, in order that providers can review, and if necessary refine, their existing procedures for performing Due Diligence and Risk Assessment and Control.


    To read the compliance update in full, please visit the  PhonepayPlus website by clicking here.


    Please be reminded that this announcement is in parallel with your compliance obligations when running premium services, as such can you read and sign the Compliance Guarantee Agreement, as found at and attach the completed form to this ticket.

    Please can you read and return the above linked letter, agreeing that you will be performing the required due diligence, ongoing risk analysis and control.

    If you have already returned this we thank you for your attention to this, and please treat this as a reminder that you are responsible for your compliance and any advice given by txtNation is non-binding and not a guarantee of your compliance. If you have not yet returned this agreement, please can you read and return the above linked letter, agreeing that you will be performing the required due diligence, ongoing risk analysis and control.

    You can either return this by post to "txtNation, Billacombe Road, Plymouth, Devon, PL9 7HX, United Kingdom", or email to, or as a ticket via, or by attaching it and replying to this email.

    If you have any questions regarding this, we would be most happy to assist.

  • Avatar
    Compliance Team

    United Kingdom

    Date of announcement: 26th October 2012

    Required time to make below changes: Immediately

    O2's "Audit standards and stated policy of fines for Yellow and Red cards" review is complete and their policies are now in-line with the PhonepayPlus 12th Code of Practice.

    This review was in response to industry's feedback regarding non-clarity surrounding the issuing of fines, the lack of flexibility over the positioning of pricing and the ridged wording of subscription terms.

    The following has been implemented:

    · O2 will no longer issue fines for Red or Yellow cards – Instead a Red Card will result in a 10 day service suspension, whilst a yellow card will require the identified issue to be corrected within 48hrs to prevent its escalation to a Red Card.

    · The requirement that pricing be 3 line breaks from the call to action will be replaced with flexibility to display the price proximate to the call to action

    · Other forms of wording for subscription terms will now be permissible providing they respect the principles and clarity of the recommended text: “Join or Subscribe to [name of service and optional description – maximum of 35 characters] for [cost of service in £] per [billing frequency] [plus an initial charge of £x]. [Other relevant information and terms]”

    Please see the latest copy of the "O2 PRS and Payforit Rules and Audit Standards Issue" via

  • Avatar

    Please find attached the latest release of the O2 Audit Standards. 

    WMC will be testing against the new audit standards with immediate 

    effect, for convenience I have highlighted the main changes below for you:

    * PFI changes published in Sept 2012 and PMG rulings now incorporated 

    * PPP clarification on free entry to competitions 

    * PPP clarification on Children's services 

    * PPP clarification on TV advertisements and in-broadcast services 

    * PPP confirmation of regulating PFI 

    * Further granularity of Helplines 

    * O2 Mandate on the use of PFI 

    * Two additional digital marketing and promotions standards to stay 

    up-to-date. O2 have added 'Misleads user into completing PRS 

    offer to unlock content (Content-lockers)' and 'Employs misleading 

    advertisement (banners, pop-ups, or pop-unders)'.

  • Avatar

    This announcement only relates to audiovisual mobile content, e.g. video and audio content.

    On Monday 2nd September 2013, the mobile operators will be making some changes to the arrangements that underpin the 2004 

    self-regulatory code of practice for content on mobile (the Code).

    From that date, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) will take over from the Independent Mobile Classification Body ('IMCB', a subsidiary of PhonepayPlus) as the body that provides the independent framework against which the mobile operators and their commercial content partners self-classify the commercial content for the mobile platform.

    Further information on the changes to the classification guidelines is attached.

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