What You Need To Know About Anti-Spam Laws in Canada

Canadian Anti Spam Law CASL

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) has been in effect since July of 2014. If you are a Canadian business owner or digital marketer, you need to be aware of what the rules are and how they affect you.

If you’re thinking of starting e-mail marketing campaigns through a platform such as MailChimp or Infusionsoft, you need to be aware of Canadian Anti-Spam Laws before you begin. If you’re already involved in e-mail marketing for your business, it’s always good to brush up on current law to make sure you are compliant.

Email marketing needs to be done “by the books”, because non-compliance could result in a hefty fine or getting blacklisted from using e-mail marketing services. Fines for the most serious violations can be up to $1 million for individuals, and $10 million for businesses. Ouch!


Does The CASL Apply To Me?

Short answer: Probably! The Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation applies to you if:

  • Your business is based in Canada
  • Your e-mail service provider is based in Canada
  • Your recipient resides in Canada

If any one of those options applies to your business, you will need to be compliant with the CASL. How do you do this? Well…


It’s All About Consent!

In order to be CASL compliant, you need to be certain that everyone on your e-mail marketing list has given express permission to receive the newsletter. This has a very specific definition in accordance with Canadian law. A “double opt in” is required, which means the user needs to do two things:

  1. They need to fill out a form that specifically states that they will be receiving a newsletter.
  2. After filling out the form, they need to check their email and click a button that confirms their subscription to the list.

Important note: A pre-checked box on your opt-in form does NOT count as express consent. Your subscribers need to actively opt-in to your newsletter, which means they need to check the box themselves.


What Else Do I Need To Include In My Email Campaigns?

Every e-mail marketing campaign you send must always include just two things:

  1. An UNSUBCRIBE link, so that recipients can opt out at any time
  2. All of your contact information, including a physical address where you can receive mail

If you use an e-mail marketing platform like MailChimp, this information will automatically be added to your footer.


Implied Consent vs Express Consent

Most of your subscribers should have given express consent, but there are certain instances in which consent is implied. So what’s the difference between the two?

Simply put, “implied consent” means there is an existing relationship between your business and the recipient, whereas “express consent” means valid consent is given in writing.

If you’re unsure about what the CASL considers to be an “existing business relationship” take a look at their definition here: CASL Section 10.

In plain language, this means you have implied consent if a recipient has purchased something from your company within the past 2 years, or has made an inquiry with your company within the past six months.


Remember: Keep a Record!

Whether your consent is express or implied, you must keep a record of said consent. Otherwise, that consent will be overturned.


Putting It All Together

Now that you’re familiar with how the CASL works, it’s a good idea to analyze your digital marketing strategy to ensure your company is compliant. Review your opt-in protocol and e-mail marketing campaigns to ensure that you’re doing everything by the books. If necessary, update your contact database by removing those who have not given consent.

Don’t forget to share this blog post with your team so that they understand the CASL basics!
Click here to read the full text of the CASL.

Still have questions? Drop us a line!


paige nelmes

Graphic Designer at We Make Stuff Happen
Paige is always challenging herself, both at work and at play. When she’s not designing, she has her nose stuck in a book. She loves how historical novelists transform plain facts into fabulous tales. This is what she strives for when she designs: to take dull data and turn it into an engaging experience.

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