- Today most consumers cannot reach 911 by sending a text message from their wireless phone.
- In limited areas of the United States, however, it is now possible to use certain wireless telephone services to send a text message to 911. This means that in such areas, if you are unable to make a voice 911 call, you can type your message on your wireless phone and send it to a 911 operator. But even where text-to-911 is available, if you are able to make a voice call to 911, and if it is safe to do so, you should always make a voice call to 911 instead.
- FCC rules require all wireless carriers and other providers of interconnected text messaging applications (i.e., those text messaging providers that enable consumers to send text messages to and from U.S. phone numbers) to deliver emergency texts to 911 call centers upon request. If a 911 call center requests text-to-911 service, text messaging providers must deploy the service in that area within six months.
- If you attempt to send a text to 911 where text-to-911 service is unavailable, you should receive an immediate "bounce-back" message that text-to-911 is not available and that you should contact emergency services by another means, such as by making a voice call or using telecommunications relay services (the latter for consumers who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability).
- For more information and/or updates regarding text-to-911, please visit https://www.fcc.gov/text-to-911. For links to FCC proceedings about text-to-911, please visit: https://www.fcc.gov/document/text-911-bounce-back-message-order, and https://www.fcc.gov/document/text-911-further-notice-proposed-rulemaking.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is text-to-911 and why would I want to use it?
- How can I find out if my area has text-to-911 capability?
- If text-to-911 is available in my area, what type of wireless phone or service do I need to send an emergency text?
- Why isn't text-to-911 available everywhere in the country?
- If I am able to text-to-911, will the 911 center automatically know my location?
- If text-to-911 is available to me, why should I use it only when a voice call to 911 is not an option?
- What are the FCC's rules on 911?
For More Information
To learn more about FCC programs to promote access to telecommunications services for people with disabilities, visit the FCC's Disability Rights Office website.
Date Last Updated/Reviewed:
Wednesday, March 28, 2018