Are You Ready for CASL Compliance?

Three years ago, on July 1, 2014, the Canadian Anti Spam Legislation came into effect.

Otherwise known as CASL, the law is attempting to regulate the amount of spam we get in our inboxes. It’s kind of crazy and awe-inspiring that we live in a day and age where its necessary to make laws around spam, but here we are!

That was three years ago, and I wrote a bunch of posts at that time around what was considered legal and what was not.

The idea is, if you are going to send emails to clients or potential clients, especially if you are using some kind of e-newsletter software program, like Constant Contact or MailChimp, that you need to have permission from the person you are sending the email to, to do so.

Prior to CASL, people were getting email lists in some pretty shady ways. For example, they’d buy lists of emails off of the internet. You still can.  A quick google search revealed at least half a dozen companies to sell me “fresh email lists” of between half a million to 1 million people for just $150. But purchasing a list like this in Canada could now result in 1 million dollars worth of fines.

Another way people get us on their lists is by asking for email at checkout, or by collecting business cards for contests or giveaways or at trade shows. This may or may not be legal, under a rule called implied consent.

CASL compliance relies upon one key point, and that is express consent. That means that the onus is on you, the person who is sending the enewsletter, to prove that you have that person’s express consent to send them emails.

This means that you need to keep records. So, for example, if someone signed up for your email list via a piece of paper you had at your point of purchase or something similar, you need to keep that paper as a record should you ever be asked to prove it.

If you use an enewsletter service like MailChimp or Constant Contact, and you have a signup box on your website, then you’re in the clear. All newsletter services offer something called the double opt-in.

When someone signs up for your newsletter, they then have to sign into their email and click an additional link before they are then added to your list.

Infographic courtesy of

CASL regulations came into effect three years ago, and this year, July 1, 2017, the “transition period” comes to an end. Basically what that means is the government gave everyone three years to get their lists in order, and to make sure that they are clean and have only names on there that were obtained using express consent.

You may have noticed that you’ve gotten a bunch of emails lately from people asking to re-subscribe, to reply and say that you want to remain on their list. This is one way people are ensuring they are CASL compliant.

By the way, it’s worthwhile to note that CASL applies to emails sent from other countries as well. So if you are an American retailer, and you’re sending emails to Canada, you must be CASL compliant.

According to CASL regulations, you also have to supply:

  • your business’ name and at minimum of 2 ways to contact you, meaning your physical address, your phone number, your website, and/or your email address.
  • a clear and simple way to unsubscribe

If you are using any e-newsletter service, this will be built-in.

It’s worthwhile to note that rules for non-profits and charity organizations are slightly different. For example, express consent doesn’t apply when you are a charity asking for donations.

For more information:

CASL Transition Period Ending July 1 — What You Need To Do Now

CASL – What you need to do before July 1st, 2017




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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

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