Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)

What You'll Learn

What is Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)

What is considered Commerical Electronic Messages (CEM)

Implied vs. Expressed Consent

Email Requirements

Introductory Note: This article is not meant to be a source of legal advice & we will not be going into detail about the components of the Canada Anti-Spam Legislation.

Please remember that federal laws in regards to email marketing are only created to limit abusive behaviors. From our perspective, compliance with these laws does not cover all of the best practices that you should be using in your email program.

What is CASL?

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) was created in July 2014 to reduce the effects of Spam and other electronic threats.

CASL differs from the CAN-SPAM Act in that you can face penalties ranging from $1 all the way up to $10 million per violation. Email senders in Canada, as well as emails sent to Canada, are required to follow CASL regulations.

Another way these two differ is CASL applies not only to email but to any Commercial Electronic Message (CEM), including SMS, sent from or to a Canadian device or computer. 

Any messages from another country that are routed through Canadian computers are exempt from this legislation.

What is Considered CEM?

CEM, Commercial Electronic Messages, are:

  • Any form of message that is in electronic format. These include:
    • Emails 
    • Instant Messages 
    • Text Messages 
    • Social Media Communications ( Twitter, Facebook, etc.) 
  • Messages that are sent to an electronic address:
    • Emails Addresses 
    • Instant Messenger Accounts 
    • Phone Numbers

That being said, there are exceptions to the above. These include: 

  • Messages sent to family members, employees, and consultants 
  • Messages sent to current customers who inquired within the past six months about a business relationship.

Implied Consent & Expressed Consent: What is the difference?

Under the CASL legislation, email senders must have implied or expressed consent before sending CEM. 

Implied Consent includes: 

  • The recipient has made a purchase or transactional deal with your organization within the last 24 months. 
  • You are a non-profit organization and the recipient has either
    • Made a donation to your organization
    • Attended a meeting by your organization 
  • The content of your message is professional
  • The recipient is someone whose address was given to you, and they have not stated they do want to receive unsolicited messages 

Expressed Consent means that if any of the above is not true, you must receive expressed, written consent from the recipient before sending any CEM. 

CASL legislation requires you to keep records of expressed consent. When obtaining this from your recipient the default value must be unchecked and cannot be prepopulated.

CASL Email Requirements

Under the CASL legislation, all emails must contain the following information from the sender: 

  • Name 
  • Physical Address 
  • Phone Number 
  • Email Address or Website Address 
  • An Unsubscribe link: Unsubscribes must be processed within 10 business days 

If you would like more information on CASL, check out the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission website here!

Updated on September 27, 2023

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