Canadian Anti-Spam (CASL) Law

Canada has enacted new legislation that could affect your email marketing with VerticalResponse. While we cannot make guarantees about how CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation) might affect you, we want to provide as much information as we can regarding these changes.


On July 1, 2014, Canada's anti-spam legislation (CASL) will go into effect.  Here's what you need to know:

What is 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."

What do I have to do to comply with the legislation?

CASL states your email must comply with these three 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.
  3. Your subject line must pertain to the content in the email.

My business is not in Canada so I'm not affected, right?

Just because your business is located outside of Canada does not mean you are exempt from CASL. If you're sending email to anyone who resides in Canada, your sending practices must abide by these rules.

CASL, the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation, and it went into effect July 1st, 2014. To help businesses figure out how to be in compliance with this, and other spam laws, we have a few tips.


The law

First, take a deep breath and relax. If you’ve been mailing through VerticalResponse or another ESP, you’re most likely already in compliance with CASL, and other laws around the world as well, but lets go over some of the specifics.

  • 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.
  • Your subject line must pertain to the content in the email. No part of the email message can be misleading or false.
  • 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.

This is similar to CAN-SPAM and other laws around the world, and if you’re using an ESP you’re already in compliance, they all provide tools to help you meet these rules. The one thing different 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 don’t send email.

Mailing lists

The biggest questions seem to be 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.

rtaImage.jpg 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.

rtaImage.png If you’re mailing to your customers/donors/clients and have been for awhile you’re okay, but you may want to reconfirm consent. Especially if you aren’t sure when or where they signed up, or you have no records if you need to prove anything. 

rtaImage.pngIf 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 that 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 get fancy, 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. Use the URL from your opt-in form to link the button so people can go right to your form and confirm.


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 to search your lists for addresses then end in .ca and create a list with that info. 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 they have to give permission before you send an email, so you can't ask to confirm to be on the list through your account.

Keep in mind that we aren’t lawyers, so don’t take this as legal advice, and 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.

Here are some resources you might find helpful:

FAQ about CASL:

They've also create this quick-answer infographic to help you when creating emails.




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