Business Owners: What You Need to Know About CASL

Judging by the amount of questions from our clients regarding the impending Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), there is some confusion relating to compliance. This legislation, which comes into effect July 1, is a little ambiguous, and our aim is to provide some clarity on how it will impact your business, what steps should be taken, and strategies to consider to ensure you are compliant.

There are three areas of regulation:

1. Commercial electronic messages (CEM)

  • Not just email — includes text, sound, voice, and images
  • Do not need to be exclusively commercial or have an expectation of profit (e.g. an email driving to a blog post with a soft sell/informational approach would also count)

2. Installation of computer programs

  • Installing software on another person’s computer in the course of commercial activity

3. False representations

  • Sender information, subject matter information, sender location, etc.


  • Fundraising messages by a registered charity
  • Response to an inquiry by individual engaged in commercial activity
  • Emails to countries without spam legislation
  • Some messages within and between businesses
  • Messages as part of a product/service delivery/transaction
  • Factual information (e.g. subscription/membership information)
  • First CEM following a referral

Keep in mind emails that fall into these categories must still be CASL form compliant. This means they must contain sender/business name, mailing address, phone number, website, and unsubscribe option. Unsubscription mechanism must be free, easy, and take effect within 10 business days.

For all other messages, you will need express consent, implied consent, or “special” consent.

  • Express consent
    • Individual has physically checked a box or clicked a link to opt-in for future communications. This gives you the ability to communicate with them until they unsubscribe. In your request for express consent you must state your purpose, your name/contact information, and indicate that consent can be withdrawn
  • Implied consent
    • Existing business relationship (transactions within the past two years)
    • Existing non-business relationship (inquiries within the past six months)
    • Recipient’s email is conspicuously published (without disclaimer)
  • “Special” consent
    • Applies to lists purchased via a third party (list broker) and sharing contact lists. You must state your purpose, identify the business that originally obtained consent, and provide the option to unsubscribe from all third party emails. It gets a little tricky here as the onus is on the sender to confirm that consent exists and was obtained prior to sending the email. When dealing with list brokers, consider working in verbiage that alludes to this in contracts relating to third party email purchases

Emails must be CASL form compliant.

With serious financial implications for CASL violations, your best bet is to take a proactive approach:

  • Pursue express consent
    • For contact without implied by July 1, 2014
    • For contacts with implied by July 1, 2017
    • Update corporate email template to include form compliance
      • Name/business name
      • Mailing address
      • Phone number/website
      • Unsubscribe mechanism
  • Develop process for documenting consent
    • Verbal
    • Email
    • Website
    • Business cards
    • Conference registration
    • Point of purchase
  • Develop process to track consent and unsubscribes
    • Date implied consent expires
    • Last date of contact
    • Unsubscribes
  • Review contracts with third party list suppliers to ensure they are compliant

OK, lots of information, but hopefully this provides some high-level understanding of CASL. For more detailed information, refer to the official CASL site (

At Acart, we have high hopes for the Canadian email landscape post-July 1, 2014. The pressure is on to output quality. Ideally, we should start receiving emails that are better targeted to us and have higher quality content than ever before. Otherwise, it will become very difficult for businesses to keep their base opted in.

Need help preparing for CASL? We can help.

Contact Our Team Today

[Image via Marketing Cloud Blog]

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