Breaking News 4 Things You Should Know About Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation

Published on June 24th, 2014 | by Kim Stiglitz


4 Things You Should Know About Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation

On July 1, 2014, Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL) will go into effect. We sat down with Jennifer Noyes, Lead Delivery Specialist here at VerticalResponse to get the facts on how this legislation affects businesses that send emails. Here’s what you need to know:

1. What Canada’s anti-spam legislation all about

According to Canada’s anti-spam legislation website, “The Act will begin to take effect on July 1, 2014 when most of the Act comes into force. Once the law is in force, it will help to protect Canadians while ensuring that businesses can continue to compete in the global marketplace.”

2. What you have to do to comply with the legislation

Noyes shared that The Act states your email must comply with these elements:

  1. All email addresses you send to must be permission-based, meaning the subscribers specifically opted-in to receive your communications. If you are not currently doing this, you can use an email sign up form to collect permission-based subscribers on your website, blog or social media networks.
  2. All emails must contain an easy-to-find unsubscribe link that is valid for 60 days. All unsubscribe requests must be done within 10 days or less and at no cost to the recipient.
  3. Your subject line must pertain to the content in the email. No part of the email message can be misleading or false.
  4. Identify your name and business, the name of anyone else on whose behalf you are sending the message, and a current mailing address. Also include a phone number, email address, or web address. Ensure they are accurate and valid for a minimum of 60 days after sending the message.

VerticalResponse is compliant with all elements of CASL. This is similar to CAN-SPAM and other laws around the world, and if you’re using an email service provider, you’re most likely in compliance, they all provide tools to help you meet these rules. One difference in CASL, and some of the European anti-spam laws, is the opt-in list piece:

All email addresses you send to must be permission-based, meaning the subscribers specifically opted-in to receive your communications. CASL allows for what they call “implied consent,” where you have a business relationship that would require contact. For example, customers, clients, donors, supporters, volunteers or members of an organization from within the past two years. They also allow you to mail to addresses that are published on websites, as long as there’s nothing saying not to send email.

3. What you need to understand regarding mailing lists

The biggest question regarding CASL revolves around lists and permission. Here’s what you need to know and understand about your lists:

To mail through VerticalResponse, your email addresses must be opted in, meaning they signed up in someway to receive your emails. You cannot use a purchased or rented list, and you can’t use an address you took from a website. Our rules are more strict than the laws out there, including CASL and CAN-SPAM, when it comes to lists.

If you’re using an opt-in form you’re good, you have permission and you have proof of sign-up if you need it.

If you’re mailing to your customers/donors/clients and have been for a while, you’re okay, but you may want to reconfirm consent. Especially if you aren’t sure when or where they signed up, or if you don’t have any record, in case you need proof.

If you have a list that you’ve never mailed to and have no idea where it came from, then you won’t be able to mail it, either through VR or to people in Canada.

That wasn’t too tough, right? If you want to reconfirm opt-in, you can do so with your VR opt-in form. To set up an opt-in form, click through to our help site for more info. If you want to create a button that says something like, “Click to Confirm Your Interest,” or “Click to Remain on Our List,” at our free button site and include it in your emails or website. Link the button to your opt-in form. They won’t be duplicated in your lists. 

Canada Has a New Spam Law, What Should You Do?


You may want to create a list segment that contains only Canadian email addresses, and make sure you know where all the addresses came from. Use our segmentation tool in VerticalResponse Classic to search your lists for addresses ending in .ca. You can email to any number of lists at one time, so you can use this list if you need it for your marketing.

Remember, to send an email through VerticalResponse, your recipients need to give permission before you send an email, so you can’t ask new people to confirm, if they haven’t already opted-in at some point.

If you have any doubts about how you obtained an email address, don’t mail to it. The CASL law has a grace period of two years built into it, so everyone gets a chance to make sure everything’s in place before they start enforcing the fines.

4. What to do if you’re business isn’t in Canada

If your business is located outside of Canada, this does not mean you’re exempt. If you’re sending email to anyone who resides in Canada, your sending practices must abide by CASL.

Helpful resources:

Here’s a a handy infographic they created:

Canada Has a New Spam Law, What Should You Do?

Note: The information in this post cannot be considered legal advice, and is not legally binding.

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© 2014 – 2015, Kim Stiglitz. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

Kim Stiglitz

is a contributing author for VerticalResponse.

15 Responses to 4 Things You Should Know About Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation

  1. Jill Bastian Jill Bastian says:

    Hi Lori,

    The anti-spam laws are really geared toward unwanted commercial emails, basically where someone is trying to sell something. People can still forward emails to their friends and colleagues and be compliant with the law. Even if you encourage them to forward emails it’s fine, it’s still one person sending their friend info they might like. So keep encouraging those forwards, you can build up your list, and hopefully customers, that way!

    Jill Bastian
    Training and Education Manager

  2. Lori says:

    Hi Jill, If I send out a newsletter to subscribers who have signed up and provided express consent, can I include a paragraph in my newsletter asking subscribers to please forward my newsletter to friends if they think they may be interested in reading it or is that a breach of the act as well?

  3. Jill Bastian Jill Bastian says:

    Hi Camilla,

    The opt-in through VR is double opt-in, meaning they sign up on a form and then need to click a link in an email to confirm the sign up. Once they fill in the form the info will be in your list, but will not be mailable until they click the link. If they don’t click, they’ll be in an unmailable state until they either click the link or you remove them from the list. They can always add themselves to the list again to get the email resent if they need it.

  4. Camilla Seers says:

    What happens if my contacts don’t reply to the opt-in mailer?

  5. Jill Bastian Jill Bastian says:

    Hi Reza,

    You can use a button with the opt-in form if you like, it’s up to you. We have a free button creation tool – – and you can create a button in any color and have it say what you want. So create a button that says Click to Confirm Your Interest! (or whatever) add it to your email as you would any image and then link it to your opt-in form. The forms have URLs, so just use that as the link. Then when someone clicks the button they’ll be able to confirm they want to be on your list.

  6. Jill Bastian Jill Bastian says:

    Hi Tammy,

    To use an ESP like VerticalResponse you do have to already have opted in email addresses. The rules on unsubscribing and subject lines that we often talk about come from the US law called CAN-SPAM. This is a new law from Canada which is pretty much just like the the US one, except for the rules on the opted in mailing lists. The US law doesn’t cover that currently, but most ESPs require it.

  7. Jill Bastian Jill Bastian says:

    Hi Harvey,

    When you use an ESP, like VerticalResponse, an unsubscribe link is added to the emails automatically. Plus we make sure that the unsub takes place quickly and complies with all the laws on unsubscribing.

  8. Tammy says:

    Shouldn’t all emails be sent to opt-ins, have an unsubscribe line and a relevant subject line anyways??

    Not quite sure how CASL is different to what is already in place?

  9. Reza says:

    Thanks for the reply Jill.
    But I would really like a simple click here to continue being on our list button I could embed in my mailer like my competition has been sending out. I have used the opt in form on our site but I think it’s much easier and more likely that a recipient would click a simple button than have to click go to a site and fill in a form. If verticleresponse response could have something like that it would be amazing.

  10. Jill Bastian Jill Bastian says:

    Hi Reza,

    In order to use VR all the addresses on your list have to have already opted in to receive your email, so you won’t have to reconfirm them. If you don’t have specific information to show how and when someone from Canada signed up, you could ask them to sign-up again through an opt-in form. This only applies to people in Canada, the rest of your list should be fine. For more info on opt-in forms, go to our help site.

  11. Reza says:

    Hi Jill
    I’ve been getting a lot of emails from places I shop
    at that explain the law is coming to in effect and ask
    if I would like too still get emails, the email is followed by
    a big. “Yes, Keep Sending Me Email” button at the bottom.
    Once clicked it goes to there site and confirms I will still
    be getting emails from them. Does VR have something like

  12. Jill Bastian Jill Bastian says:

    Hi Carma,

    VR requires that all addresses in your account be opted in, meaning they signed up in some way to receive your emails. The new CASL law requires much the same thing, that people sign up to get your emails, or that you have a specific business relationship that requires you email them. The question would be, how are you collecting the email addresses? If you’re using an opt-in form, a sign-up sheet at your business, a scan a trade show, however they’re giving you their info works. As long as they know you’ll be sending them emails, it’s fine.

  13. Jill Bastian Jill Bastian says:

    Hi Tamara,

    Good catch! I updated the length of time to 60 days. As far as implied consent goes, yes the law does allow for that, but if any questions come up you (the company sending the email) have to prove it. And that can be pretty difficult for something that’s implied. So we would always recommend that you have direct consent, plus VR does require all addresses in your account be opted in to receive your emails.

  14. Tamara says:

    I don’t think that item 2.1 and 2.2 in this article are correct, ie,

    2.1. CASL compliant implied consent is also allowed.

    2.2. An unsubscribe link must be valid for a minimum of 60 days after the message has been sent.

  15. Carma says:

    We use our customer database where they have provided us with an email address. Is that considered opt in?

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