How to Survive Canada’s New Anti-Spam Law

In the next few weeks, you’re going to be slicing and dicing your way through your database as you prepare for the world’s toughest anti-spam law.

Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) comes into effect on July 1, 2014.

The new law prevents businesses from sending commercial electronic messages (CEM) — emails, texts or even social media messages — to Canadians without their consent.

Canada’s anti-spam law affects businesses outside of Canada too.

The bottom line: if the people who receive your emails and downloads live in Canada—regardless of where your business is located—then CASL applies.

Does CASL apply to your business. Image via

Does CASL apply to your business? Image via

The penalty for not complying is huge—up to $1 million for an individual and $10 million for a company.

Spam laws in most other countries are “opt out”, which means unsolicited emails are legal if there’s a way to unsubscribe. However, under Canada’s law consumers have to opt in before a company can contact them.

The new law will require you to do these 3 things:

  1. Obtain express consent 

    The recipient must take an affirmative action to opt-in. (e.g. subscribe to email list)

  2. Comply with identification and unsubscribe requirements

    You have to clearly identify yourself and provide a way for the recipient to contact you. In addition, you must have an unsubscribe option on all CEMs.

  3. Replace implied consent with express consent (by July 1, 2017)

    Some examples of implied permission include:

  • The exchange of business cards
  • Signup forms where no consent is asked
  • Verbal requests (in person or over the phone)

Note: Messages that are designed to obtain consent are considered CEMs under this legislation, so you need to obtain the consent before July 01, 2014.

Express Consent vs Implied Consent

Express Consent vs Implied Consent. Image via

Where to start:

  1. Review your current contact list

    Determine if you have express or implied consent to send CEMs.

  1. Work on getting express consent before July 1

    Email existing contacts asking them to provide their consent.

  2. Adopt the inbound marketing methodology

    People will want to sign up for your newsletters, blogs, and other marketing materials (read: explicitly opt-in) if you provide great content.


Here’s a checklist to help you get started.

CASL Checklist. Image via

CASL Checklist. Image via

Learn more

Cake Mail’s guide to CASL (outlines what every marketer needs to know about CASL)

Bennett Jones website on CASL (The site features a “what you need to know” primer video that covers simple definitions, the scope of the legislation, and some compliance tips.)

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation Survival Guide (by Elite Email)

CASL Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation: Guide For B2B Marketers

An In-Depth Guide to Prepare for Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL)

Government of Canada’s ready-to-use articles re CASL

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (Government of Canada’s plain language site re CASL)

 Read my Lironi INK blog for coaches.


NOTE: This article provides plain language information about the law but is not a substitute for the law itself. Readers are strongly advised to consider seeking their own legal advice regarding how to comply.



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