New Changes to Email Regulations in Canada – CASL

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about the recent changes to the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL). While we don’t deal directly with email marketing and its logistics, it’s something that is very relevant to some of our clients. We’ve done some looking into this issue, and the first thing we want to say is – don’t panic. Most people are already applying great practices with their emails – such as always including an unsubscribe option and listing a mailing address with each outgoing communication. You’re more than half way there.

The big change seems to be really around managing the consent for your subscribers.  You are now required to keep a record of the consent you’ve received for each and every subscriber that is on your list. This is problematic for people who have email lists that they’ve been managing or growing for many years – before this requirement was in place.

According to CASL, consent falls into two types: implicit and express.

Its really important to note that implicit consent comes with an expiry date – 36 months for emails added prior to July 1, 2014, and 24 months for emails added after this date.

Consent can be implied in the following situations:

  • The recipient has within the previous 24 months purchased a product, service, or made some other business deal with you, been a party to a contract with you, or has had a membership.
  • You are either a registered charity or political organization and the recipient has made a donation or gift, volunteered for, or attended a meeting organized by you.
  • The message sent is related to the recipient’s professional or official role, and the recipient has not told you or published that they don’t want to receive unsolicited messages, and the recipient has either directly given you their address or has conspicuously published it.

If you do not meet any of the above criteria, then you must obtain express consent before you can send any emails.

Express Consent can be obtained only by giving the recipient:

  • A clear and concise description of your purpose in obtaining their consent (tell them what you will be sending).
  • Your name.
  • Both the physical mailing address and either a telephone number, email address or web address of the person seeking consent or the person on whose behalf it is sought.
  • A statement that the recipient may unsubscribe at any time.

You must maintain a record of the recipient agreeing to the above.

For those who use a third party platform for your emails (such as MailChimp or Constant Contact) many of these records may be already in place; however, there may be cases where people were added manually to the list and proof of consent may not be available. You may wish to take caution in assuming that you have express consent.

Once you have received consent, your email communications must include the following:

  • Your name
  • If you are sending on someone else’s behalf, that person’s name.
  • Your physical mailing address and either your telephone number, email address or web address, or that belonging to the person on whose behalf you are sending.
  • An unsubscribe mechanism that works by either allowing the recipient to send a reply message or click on a link, that option remains open for at least sixty (60) days from receipt of that message, and once exercised is effective within ten (10) days.

If you already use a program such as MailChimp or Constant Contact, you will most likely already have many of these points in place already.

We recommend that you have a look at the new regulations to make sure you fully understand how they apply for your specific business model.

To learn more about CASL, please visit:

fightspam.gc.ca