The State of New Jersey Office of Emergency Telecommunication Services in cooperation with Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint and a select number of Public Safety Agencies have been able to implement Text to 9-1-1 on an interim basis.

This permits the sending of SMS* text messages to 9-1-1 when a voice call is not possible or practical.

A voice call made from a wireline or cell phone is preferable but in the event that you cannot do so you can send a Text to 9-1-1.

When should you send a Text to 9-1-1?

  • When you have an emergency that requires assistance from Police, Fire or EMS.

  • If you have a speech or hearing impairment, you can send a text to 9-1-1 using a cell phone or other device. It is recommended that you inform 9-1-1 that you are speech or hearing impaired so that they can inform the responders.

  • If speaking may cause you harm, such as a break-in or domestic violence situation. Remember to silence your phone so that the sound of 9-1-1 replying does not give you away.

  • Peer pressure. You are with a group and some of the members are doing something dangerous or illegal.

  • If you cannot make a voice call with your cell phone because there is no service you may be able to get data service to send a text message.



If you need to use text to 9-1-1

Do Not attempt to send videos or photos with your texts.  Limit your messaging to text only.

Be as specific as possible when providing your location.   Provide as much of the following information as possible:

  • Exact address to include unit/apartment number and city

  • Business name

  • The names of both streets at the nearest intersection

  • Landmarks

Once the texting session is initiated, DO NOT EXIT THE CONVERSATION until the 9-1-1 operator has told you to do so.

As with all text messages, 9-1-1 text messages can take longer to receive, may be delivered out of order, or may not be received at all.

Photos and videos cannot be sent to 9-1-1 at this time.

Text-to-9-1-1 cannot include more than one person. Do not copy your emergency text to anyone other than 9-1-1. Wait until you are safe to notify others of your situation.

At this time translation services for text-to-9-1-1 are not available; please text in English only.

Do not text and drive!

How do I send a Text to 9-1-1?

  1. Open the message app on your phone or wireless device.

  2. In “To” type “911” (there is no need to add “-“)

  3. In the message field type the location, (address and municipality) and a brief description of the problem.

  4. Then press “SEND”.


Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 call taker.

Text in simple words - do not use abbreviations.

Keep text messages brief and concise.

Reliable translation services for text messages are not yet available. Messages should be sent in English. If this is not possible a voice call should be made to allow use of translation services for voice calls.


Questions about Text to 9-1-1

Texting to 9-1-1 is different from making a voice call to 9-1-1 in this respect. When you make a voice call to 9-1-1, the call taker will typically receive your phone number and your approximate location automatically. This is called "Enhanced 9-1-1" or "E9-1-1." However, in most cases when you text 9-1-1 from a wireless phone, the call taker will not receive this automated information. For this reason, if you send a text message to 9-1-1, it is important to give the 9-1-1 call taker an accurate address or location as quickly as possible, if you can.

In general, you must have a text-capable wireless phone or device and a wireless service subscription or contract with a wireless phone company. You will also need a "wireless data or text plan." Remember, you can make a voice call to 9-1-1 using a wireless phone that does not have a service plan, but you cannot send a text message to 9-1-1 without a service contract that includes texting.

A 9-1-1 call center should respond to the text. If Text-to-9-1-1 is not available, you should receive a "bounce back" message from the wireless carrier stating that Text-to-9-1-1 is not available and that you must place a voice or relay call to 9-1-1.

The preferred language for texting to 9-1-1 is English. Translation services are not available at this time and any text to 9-1-1 call placed in New Jersey should be in English.

The four nationwide wireless providers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint) have the service on their towers throughout New Jersey. If your wireless device connects to one of these towers you can Text to 9-1-1. The service is also available in some surrounding states. If your device connects to one of these towers your message will be received by a 9-1-1 call center outside of New Jersey.

If your device is not connected to a tower with Text to 9-1-1 service you will receive a message that Text to 9-1-1 service is not available and you should make a voice call or use a relay service.

In general, you must have a text-capable wireless phone or device and a wireless service subscription or contract with a wireless phone company. You will also need a "wireless data or text plan." Remember, you can make a voice call to 9-1-1 using a wireless phone that does not have a service plan, but you cannot send a text message to 9-1-1 without a service contract that includes texting.

Currently the four major providers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint) offer the service in New Jersey. If you use a different provider, check with them to see if Text to 9-1-1 is available to you.

SMS (short message service) is a basic form of texting. It is limited to 160 characters. DO NOT send pictures, videos or use Emojies. The message can only be sent to one recipient.