CASL Laws: What they are, and what it means for you.

Posted by June 25, 2014 Blog Comments
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First of all, relax. Take a deep breathe, and realize that the scary official start date, of July 1, 2014, has a buffer zone. Although the laws will be instated on that date, you will have some time to absorb all of the regulations and transition appropriately. There have been a lot of scary headlines out there meant to alarm and shock you into compliance.

I know it is a lot to take in, and if you need some immediate comfort…YOU HAVE 3 YEARS TO BECOME FULLY COMPLIANT!! There you go, I hope you feel a little bit more relieved.

Here is what you need to know to stay out of hot water. It can get a little tedious, but stick with me.

What is CASL:

Canadian Anti-Spam Law will be put into effect July 1, 2014 in order to reduce spam email. It also restricts other communication channels such as text messages and computer programs. This is an aggressive law, and it is a challenge because of the broad definition of “spam mail”.

It will require marketers to receive permission before sending an email to any recipient.

Recipients must  opt-in to receive emails, and they can opt-out at any time.

 To make your emails fully compliant they must have the following:

-Subject lines must be truthful and non-misleading

-Must contain name of sender

-Must contain a valid physical address as well as one other way to contact sender (email address, phone #, etc)

-Must have an unsubscribe button that is immediately honored and never expires

-You must keep record of when and how consent was given by recipient

-If emailing a lead from a referral, the person that made the referral must be stated in the message

These changes will impact anyone, in any country, that sends correspondence to a Canadian computer. This means you must be careful sending out offers or company newsletters. Remember, you may have to prove you were given consent!

It is easy to imagine that there will be confusion over these new laws. Many exceptions are already in place and we can expect more to pop up as time passes.

Exemptions from CASL:

-Messages sent from individual to individual in which a relationship exists

-Messages sent to a person that directly inquires about a good or service

-Internal communications within organizations

-Business to business communication where a relationship exists

-Messages sent in response to an inquiry

-Messages sent in regards to legal notice, obligation or enforcement

-Messages sent by registered Canadian charities (charities in other countries are not exempt)

-Messages sent by a Canadian political party

What can happen:

It will be illegal to send unrequested email.

Fines can be up to $1 million for individuals and up to $10 million for companies. Up to 5 years of jail time is possible.

When this law goes into effect:

Here is where the lines seem to get a little blurry. Yes, officially the law goes into order July 1, 2014. But that means different things for different types of contacts. There are two different categories that your contacts may fall under, explicit and implied.

Explicit Permission Contacts- They have asked to receive emails from you, understand who will be sending these emails, and were not tricked into an opt-in. An opt-in for an email subscription box may not be pre-checked!! They should give you a double opt-in from your welcome message. You can keep email these contacts as long as you would like, as long as they do not unsubscribe.

Implied Permission Contacts- If not all of the above conditions have been met, but you have a previous relationship, you can still claim implied consent if:

-Recipient has made a purchase with you in the last 2 years

-they have been involved in an investment with you in the last 2 years

-they entered into a written or electronic contract with you in the last 2 years

-they have made an inquiry within the last 6 months

While you can’t keep emailing these clients forever, you do have limited rights.

*For contacts captured BEFORE July 1, 2014, you will have 3 years (July 1, 2017) to convert them to explicit contacts or lose them.

*For contacts captured AFTER July 1, 2014, you will have 2 years from the date they became an implied contact, unless of course they buy something new or renew a contract or subscription.

What you should do now:

Now is the time to check into your database. It is best to get express consent from everyone, but remember that you do have 3 years to do this! You should be able to transition much of your current database in that time frame.

Sadly, any contact who does not at least fall into the implied consent category should get thrown to the curb. It’s ok though, they probably weren’t high value subscribers if they weren’t showing any interest.

 From here on out, make sure all of your new contacts give explicit consent:

-Check all of your landing pages, opt-in windows, and online and offline sign-up forms. Make sure they clearly state that subscribers are signing up to receive emails from you.

-They must manually check the opt-in box, it cannot be automatically checked.

-Your welcome email should have a confirmation link that the subscriber can click.

-You must be able to capture the time and date of the new sign up plus the subscriber’s IP address, and keep this for records

The list you have gathered using the above tactics will be good to go with explicit consent.

You will still have an implied consent list, you should keep these separate with the hope of moving emails over to explicit folder before expiration.


This new law is a bit of an overkill, the punishment does not seem to fit the crime. However, we are better off looking at the silver lining. Once all is said and done, our email lists may be smaller. But it is better to have a small highly interested list than a large list that doesn’t want to take the time to open correspondence.



  1. Leenterprises says:

    This is one of the best posts I’ve read on this issue so far.

  2. Joanne says:

    If someone on our database has already opted-in by manually checking the
    opt-in box, do we still need to get their express consent again?

    1. Gary Henderson says:

      Yes you need a double opt-in if they are in Canada.