Deliverability Update: CASL Law Effective July 1, 2014

Chris Kolbenschlag, Director of Deliverability

Starting July 1, 2014, Canada’s Anti Spam Law (CASL) will come into full effect. With this new law comes some tough challenges to comply with.  Although the law takes effect on this date, it does not mean you must obtain the correct consent by this date. I’ll explain this more in detail below.  So, whether sending to a person in Canada, sending from Canada or even if your email passes through Canada, this new law will apply to you.

Since CASL is all about permissions, it’s important to understand the definitions:

  • Implied: person who enters into a business relationship by buying something from you or entering into a contract with you but never specifically signed up for marketing emails.
  • Explicit: someone who directly gave you permission to send them marketing emails by entering their email address into a web form clearly marked as a email newsletter sign up box or by checking a box agreeing to receive marketing messages.
  • Conspicuous Publication: If a person has published their email address and doesn’t state that you can’t send them email, you can email them with information that is relevant to their profession/business. (NOTE: Role accounts [sales@, info@] do not fit this description)
Here are the main points and recommendations on how you should prepare for CASL:


  • Always get clear explicit (non-questionable) permission. Get people to take action to sign up, rather than signing them up automatically. If they buy something from you, let them decide (via an unchecked box) by selecting to receive promotional emails.  
  • Confirm subscriptions by sending an email asking them to re-confirm their permission. This is an excellent method to collect engaged subscribers and help you comply with CASL.
  • Since CASL requires proof of consent, verbal consent will be tough to prove unless you are recording the call. If you are not recording the call, you can send an email and if they click a link to confirm, you have the proof needed. Same for business cards etc, just because you have an address doesn’t mean you have consent. The burden will be on the marketer to prove they collected explicit consent.
  • Reconfirm implied consent addresses.
  • Uncheck your subscription boxes! A very simple way to collect explicit consent is to require users to check a subscription box, Yes, your list won’t grow as fast, but CASL isn’t about growing your list quickly it’s about growing your list correctly. See more here.
  • If you continue to collect implied consent, send a follow up email confirming permission.  (NOTE: sending a follow up email saying ‘if you do not want marketing emails to ‘click here’ will not satisfy explicit consent.)


  • If called upon, you must have proof of explicit, implied or conspicuous publication consent.
  • Record where and how people signed up or provided their consent.
  • If collecting via phone calls, conferences, hotel check-in desks etc, make sure you have data to back it all up.


  • Must have a working unsubscribe mechanism (link or reply to address)
  • You will have 10 business days to honor the opt out request.
  • The unsubscribe link for each email must work for 60 days from the send date.


  • Transactional emails must have an unsubscribe or preference page link from which they can unsubscribe from your promotional emails.
  • If your transactional email contains any marketing/promotional content, then that transactional email becomes a marketing message and falls under CASL regulation.


  • If you collected implied consent prior to Jul 1, 2014, you will have 3 years to collect explicit consent. If you collect implied consent after July 1, 2014, you will have 2 years to collect explicit consent.
  • Explicit consent collected prior to July 1, 2014, is acceptable after July 1, 2014 (when CASL becomes effective)
  • If during the 2 or 3 years that CASL allows you to collect explicit consent, and that same person buys from you again, then the 2 year clock resets and you have 2 more years from that point to collect explicit consent.


  • CASL allows ‘forward to a friend’ emails if they are exactly that, to a friend or family member.  You will have to prove the recipient of this email was indeed a friend or family member. Sending to a co-worker or a group will most likely be outside of CASL compliance.
  • The family member or friend must be defined in the message.
  • Rewarding someone for forwarding the email can induce CASL regulations and therefore the need of proof of consent by the recipient.

The new Canadian law will pose challenges to marketers for collecting explicit permissions and recording them. Be prepared to collect explicit permission when initially collecting email addresses. By doing so, you’ll reap the benefits of having engaged subscribers and avoid any issues with CASL compliance.

Have any additional questions about CASL? Please comment below.


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