Email marketers beware! The Canadian Government has some upcoming changes to its anti spam legislation which you need to know about. Canada’s Anti Spam Legislation (CASL) is due to take effect on July 1, 2014.

Anyone sending marketing emails to recipients residing in Canada will need to understand these changes otherwise they could find themselves in breach of anti spam regulations and face legal action and fines of up to $10 million. There is a three year transition period where minor issues won’t be heavily penalised while everyone is getting used to the new system.

These changes have been brought into effect as a way of protecting Canadian residents from malicious software and privacy breaches and they are similar to laws which are in effect in Australia and the US.

There are three main parts to the new legislation – consent, identification and unsubscribing. To ensure your marketing emails comply with the new laws you will need to make sure you have included all three things:


To be legally compliant, before sending a marketing email or newsletter you must get specific permission from the recipients. Explicit consent has to be given by way of a manual opt-in, not a pre-checked box and when requesting consent you must tell the person exactly what you want consent for (e.g. to send newsletters and special offers by email).

It is also acceptable to send marketing emails if there is implied consent. Implied consent is where you have a previous business relationship with a recipient and it can be reasonably assumed they would be happy to receive emails from you. Situations where there is implied consent can include where a recipient has purchased something from you recently or you have an existing business relationship. If you aren’t sure whether a previous business relationship qualifies as implied consent it’s always best to seek explicit consent or seek further advice.

You must also tell recipients that they can withdraw their consent at any time if they want. It’s important to keep records of the date and time when consent was given and whether it was provided in writing or verbally in case you are asked to provide proof at a later date.

Have all your Canadian email recipients given you explicit consent and do you have a record of this? If not you may need to obtain express permission to send marketing emails to them so you can keep sending after July 1.


To be compliant with legislation your marketing emails need to include clear identification information about you and your company. You will need to make sure your emails show a valid mailing address, phone number and/or email and web address and you or your company’s name is clearly visible as the sender.

Unsubscribe facility

Emails sent to Canadian recipients after July 1 must have an unsubscribe mechanism. Unsubscribing should be at no cost to the recipient and the mechanism must be easy to access. Requests to unsubscribe need to be honoured within 10 days.

The easiest way to allow users to unsubscribe is by a hyperlink at the bottom of the email. Make sure the unsubscribing process is simple, easy and quick.

Anti-spam legislation should always be taken seriously. It’s well worth making sure your email marketing list is up to date and emails are compliant before July 1st to protect yourself and your business from falling foul of the new Canadian spam legislation.

Learn more about tools and tactics to grow your website's traffic

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter