How to comply with the WhatsApp Business Messaging and Commerce policies
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We want businesses to enjoy all the benefits of the WhatsApp Business Platform and WhatsApp Business app. In order to ensure safe, high-quality customer conversations, all businesses and Business Solution Providers must adhere to both the WhatsApp Business Messaging and Commerce policies.
Both of these policies apply to WhatsApp Business. The Business Messaging Policy broadly governs the acceptable use of WhatsApp Business products, which businesses can send messages on WhatsApp, and sets expectations for ensuring a quality customer experience. The Commerce Policy is used to govern whether businesses can sell their products and services using WhatsApp commerce product features like catalog and payments.
We recommend that everyone who uses WhatsApp Business Services reads both WhatsApp Business Messaging and Commerce policies, but we also understand that sometimes there are questions about certain components of the policies, as well as their enforcement and impact on your business.
Comply with the Business Messaging and Commerce Policies
Many businesses that sell products and services prohibited by the WhatsApp Commerce Policy can still use WhatsApp for business messaging and all other features, except for commerce product features, which currently include but are not limited to:
Note: Some commerce product features are currently limited to specific regions or products and may not be available to you yet.
These restrictions on the use of commerce product features only apply to the categories prohibited in the Commerce Policy. Any product or service that is allowed to be sold according to the Commerce Policy may use commerce product features. For example, t-shirts aren’t a restricted item, so they can be purchased using the commerce product features available to the WhatsApp Business Platform or WhatsApp Business app.
Establishing communication with customers
Per our Business Messaging Policy, businesses may only contact someone on WhatsApp if the person has:
- Given the business their mobile phone number
- Agreed to be contacted by the business over WhatsApp
Confusing, deceiving, defrauding, misleading, spamming, or surprising people with business communications violates our Business Messaging Policy. Additionally, businesses can’t share or ask people to share full length individual payment card numbers, financial account numbers, personal ID card numbers, or other sensitive identifiers.
Customers must opt-in to chatting with the business in order for the business to send any business-initiated messages outside the 24-hour window on the WhatsApp Business Platform.
Note: A user reaching out to a business doesn’t act as an opt-in. The user must still opt in to receive future proactive messages from the business on WhatsApp. Learn more about opt-in requirements and best practices in the Business Messaging Policy.
Navigate specific Commerce Policy categories
Some WhatsApp Commerce Policy categories are more complex than others. Here is an overview of how to avoid Commerce policy violations for some of those categories.
Drugs, whether prescription, recreational, or otherwise are prohibited by the Commerce policy
Pharmacies and drugstores may use all WhatsApp features for grocery and convenience items, but not for pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals—which we define as prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, and medical devices—continue to be prohibited by both the Business Messaging Policy and the Commerce Policy. Businesses may not promote or transact in the sale of Pharmaceuticals (for example, prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, and medical devices) in any conversations or product features. Medical services provided by pharmacies, including testing and vaccine administration, are already permitted to conduct business messaging on WhatsApp.
Pharmacies and drugstores are allowed to:
- Provide purchase confirmation, such as receipts of non-Pharmaceuticals
- Use commerce product features to sell groceries, convenience items, personal care, and other non-regulated retail products
- Respond to customer inquiries about groceries, convenience items, personal care, and other non-regulated retail products
- Provide delivery updates of non-Pharmaceuticals
- Provide customer service related to non-Pharmaceuticals
We will also continue to support medical services provided by licensed pharmacies for use cases such as:
- Scheduling appointments and providing appointment updates (excluding scheduling a pick-up or delivery of Pharmaceuticals)
- Answering questions about medical services, such as testing and vaccines
- Answering questions about proper use of Pharmaceuticals
- Sending surveys or bill-pay reminders
Prescriptions written by a licensed medical practitioner can be shared on WhatsApp, as this is considered medical advice. However, neither prescription or over-the-counter drugs can be directly sold or promoted within the WhatsApp business services. It is up to the client to comply with applicable law and regulations.
Supplements are prohibited by the Commerce Policy, and aren’t allowed to be sold using commerce product features.
However, businesses in the supplements vertical can now onboard for non-sales use cases. Supplements are defined as ingestible products (excluding over-the-counter, prescription, and illegal drugs) that may provide dietary or other health benefits. Ingestible means the products enter the body (for example, topical, pill, tablet, liquid, suspension, creams).
Unsafe supplements are still prohibited under both the Commerce Policy and the Business Messaging Policy. These include, for example, products that contain any of the following:
- Anabolic steroids
- Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)
- Human growth hormones
- Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG)
Services like mobile recharges, cable TV packages, and internet packs are allowed for sale on WhatsApp.
We will allow any entity engaging in digital subscriptions and services to onboard for business messaging but they can’t use WhatsApp commerce product features.
News Aggregators will continue to be disallowed from onboarding under this policy and News Publishers still have to go through the News Page Index Registration.
Real, virtual, or fake currency
Selling real, virtual, or fake currency is prohibited on the WhatsApp Business Services.
Real money refers to cash or cash equivalent instruments that have real world monetary value. Some examples of prohibited real currency are:
- US Dollars
- Prepaid debit cards
- Gift cards
Virtual currencies are issued by private entities, and don’t commonly have real world monetary value outside of specific communities.Some examples of virtual currency are:
- Game currency
Fake currencies refer to forged or counterfeited currency or financial instruments.
If the business’s primary business model is the sale of alcohol (including alcoholic beverages and kits for producing alcohol), they can’t use WhatsApp Business Services.
However, if a business sells alcohol along with other goods including alcohol-related items (such as glasses, coolers, wine bottle holders, and books or DVDs about alcohol) as part of its business model, then they may use WhatsApp Business Services for messaging that’s not related to alcohol. They can’t list alcohol in product catalogs or promote or advertise alcohol in messaging.
If the business’s primary business model and function is the issue, sale, or use of weapons, ammunition, or explosives, they can’t WhatsApp Business Services.
Some examples of prohibited weapons are:
- Firearms and firearm parts
- Paintball guns
- BB guns
- Pepper spray
- Gun ranges
- Gun shows
However, if the sale of weapons is one component of the business model, or if the business promotes safety training or licenses for legal weapons, it may use WhatsApp Business Services for messaging that’s not related to promotion or sales of weapons. They can’t list weapons, ammunition, and explosives in product catalogs.
Compliance with laws
It is up to the business to be compliant with applicable law. Review the Business Messaging and Commerce policies for an up-to-date list of goods and services that are prohibited from being sold or promoted on WhatsApp Business.
If a customer initiates a conversation about purchasing a good or service from a vertical that is prohibited by the Commerce policy, please tell the customer to connect with you on a different channel for those types of conversations in verticals where that is prohibited.