About Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL)

by | Jun 26, 2014 | Business | 2 comments

photo credit: ***Bud*** via photopin cc

photo credit: ***Bud*** via photopin cc

Because I live in Canada, I feel like I should come out of “blog hiding” and write you a quick resource post about the Canada Anti-Spam Law (CASL). Plus, I needed to do this research for myself. It just makes sense to share it with you.

Obviously, you know I’m not a lawyer, and this isn’t legal advice. But I also know many of us are confused about how this might affect our online business.

I’ve received so many emails this past week about this new law & most of them have made this sound like something really scary.


Honestly, I think it’s just common sense.

Don’t spam people, ask for permission before mailing (double opt in’s take care of this) & be respectful.

Here are the highlights!

  1. This law goes into effect on July 1, 2014 (just in time for our Canada Day celebration)
  2. It affects anyone who sends email/instant messages/text of any type to anyone in Canada
  3. The messages would be ones containing some kind of commercial activity (including promotion of products, services, people/personas, companies or organizations)
  4. There is a 3 year transition period (until July 1, 2017)
  5. This is a law to protect Canadians from spammers.

If you’re only sending email to Canadians through your newsletter & they’ve double opted into your email list, you’re fine. Keep providing awesome content & ensuring your potential customers and subscribers hear from you regularly.

The big question? (and the government answer)

Does this mean I can’t send marketing emails to Canadians?

(read the answer on the government website here)

No. Rather, it sets out some requirements for sending a certain type of message, called a commercial electronic message (CEM), to an electronic address.

If you are sending a CEM to an electronic address, then you need to comply with three requirements.

You need to:

(1) obtain consent

(2) provide identification information, and

(3) provide an unsubscribe mechanism.

And, my guess is that you’re already doing this! Especially if you’re using newsletter services like mailchimpaweber or madmimi.

I would be a little more concerned with getresponse, as I’ve recently heard it’s quite easy to import lists that aren’t confirmed. But honestly, I don’t think anyone reading this blog post would stoop to that level anyway 🙂

The best article I found:

Since I use Mailchimp for my own newsletter, I was pleased to find a great article from them, in my own inbox. I think it will help you too.

Mailchimps CASL article

Deloitte & Touche list these exemptions:

  1. Business-to-business (B2B) communications. The messages must be sent by an employee, representative, contractor or franchisee, and be relevant to the business, role, function or duties of the recipients. Similarly exempt are communications sent to third-party business partners, such as marketing agencies, recruiting firms and insurance carriers.
  2. Messages sent to consumers in response to a request for information.
  3. Messages sent to enforce a legal right. Examples include messages sent for debt collection, licensing and enforcing contractual obligations.
  4. Messages sent from outside Canada. These include messages sent by foreign businesses (provided the sender could not reasonably know the message would be received in Canada) and internationally-based Canadian organizations.
  5. Third-party referrals. To qualify for the exemption:
    • The individual who sends the message must disclose in the message the ordinary or full name of the person who made the referral.
    • The individual who made the referral must have an existing personal or family or business relationship with both the sender and the person who receives the message.

Read the full article here

Some of the best resources I can find for you are here:

  1. The official website is at the Canadian government website FightSpam.gc.ca
  2. Their FAQ’s page
  3. Mailchimps CASL article
  4. Deloitte & Touche article (law firm)

I hope this research helps you as much as it helped me!

Have you found any other helpful, easy to understand articles on this topic? Please share in the comments below.

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  1. Hannah

    I’m in the US and use Constant Contact. I don’t believe this is a double-option process, but they do need to opt in once. And they can instantly unsubscribe if they no longer want to receive them. We (owners) have to check a “permission to send” box if we add them to the list ourselves, as opposed to them signing up. Those would be people who sign up to my list at shows. But since I only collect email addresses without street addresses, I honestly have no idea who might live in Canada (or Australia or Japan or the moon). I’m guessing I’m not breaking any new Canadian laws 🙂 Seems like common sense to me. If you buy email lists and blanket thousands of people – then you ARE actually a spammer. But if they sign up to receive your info, you are not.

  2. Naima

    Thanks for this “English” write-up Loralee.

    I have a few Canadians on my list, but as you said, as long as the double opt-in process was observed, we should be fine.

    Have a great day.


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