Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation: Who Can You Send Your Emails To Now?

by | Advertising, Email Marketing

Under Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), Commercial Electronic Messages (CEM) include email, SMS, social media or instant messaging to send commercial or promotional information about your organization to reach customers, prospects and other important audiences.

The following information comes directly from the website and provides additional clarity around who you can, and who you can’t, send CEM to and what kind of consent you need. Some information has been rewritten for clarity and emphasis has been added to highlight certain areas.

Print version of CASL’s “Three Things to Think of When Sending Messages” (image of same included at the bottom of this article)

Do you have Express or Implied Consent?


Did they give consent? Do you have a record of this consent?

  • Did they say ‘yes, please contact me’?
  • Did they publish contact info online or did they give you a business card*? (Look closely for any ‘don’t contact’ instructions)
  • This means no automated address generation or collecting!

(*Author’s Note: A business card can qualify as express consent under CASL. As with all forms of Express Consent, be sure to retain the documentation – the business card – for your records. It makes sense to include a few notes about how/where you met the person too. Better yet, ask them for permission to add them to your email list, explain they can unsubscribe at any time and note their permission on their business card. While this is not a stated requirement under CASL, it is a good business practice.)



Do you have an existing business or non-business relationship?

  • Customers, clients, associates, donors, supporters, volunteers or members from the past two years.

Under Implied Consent, and during the 36-month transition period, you can continue to use your current email list to send email to those you have an existing business or non-business relationship with, IF:

  • you have previously provided your products or services to them (in the past two years) and
  • they haven’t told you to stop sending them email.

Over the next few years focus on obtained Express Consent from those you now have Implied Consent from. Once the transition period is up, Express Consent will be required.


Are you sending Commercial Electronic Messages?

  • Is it sent to an electronic address? (e..g., email, SMS, instant messaging or similar platforms)
  • Is it commercial or promotional? (Commercial or promotional information including marketing, sales, offers, solicitations or similar activities)
  • Ensure that no part of the message is false or misleading.


What You Must Include In Your Commercial Electronic Messages?

  • Identify your name and business, the name of anyone else on whose behalf you are sending the message, and a current mailing address. Also include a phone number, email address, or web address. Ensure they are accurate and valid for a minimum of 60 days after sending the message.
  • Include details on how to unsubscribe
    • In each message
    • Action every unsubscribe request within 10 days or less and at no cost to the recipient.

Essentially, include your contact information in all CEMs and make it easy to unsubscribe from your emails, for free!


For more information, go to

Fast Facts About CASL from the Fight Spam website

Fact: You can continue to use email if you have express or implied consent from recipients. During the 36-month transition period, you can continue to use your current email list if

  • you have previously provided your products or services to them and
  • they haven’t told you to stop.

Fact: It is not illegal to send commercial electronic messages, but you need consent.

  • CASL applies to emails, text and instant messages, and any similar messages sent to electronic addresses.
  • CASL does not apply to promotional information you post online in places like blogs or social media.

Fact: Express consent received before July 1, 2014, remains valid and does not expire until the recipient withdraws it.

**Check with the CASL website for specific conditions, legislation or regulations that may apply.