CASL is short for the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation that went into effect on July 1, 2014.

The law currently remains in effect with no changes.

July 1, 2017 marked the end of the “three-year transitional period” and you must obtain permission for all addresses you are mailing to regardless of how long or when you acquired the address.

What is CASL?

CASL intends to protect electronic commerce in Canada by deterring damaging and deceptive forms of spam, such as:

  • Identity theft
  • Phishing
  • Spyware

What does CASL require from businesses?

CASL requires all businesses to obtain and document consent to send commercial emails to Canadians.

This means that if you have Canadian email addresses in your email marketing database, the law is applicable to you even if your business is based in the U.S. or any other country outside of Canada.

What do you need to do to make sure you’re CASL-compliant?

We’ve build several tools and features to help you be CASL compliant. We’ve also created a new CASL Resource Center where you can find all the information you need to build an email marketing strategy with CASL in mind.

If you’re wondering what you need to do to be CASL-compliant today, there are three steps we recommend:

Step 1: Review your email address collection methods

For all Canadian email addresses added to your email marketing database before July 1, 2014, CASL requires you to document express consent from your customers.

For all Canadian email addresses added to your email marketing database after July 1, 2014, CASL requires you to document consent, either implied or express.

Implied consent is inferred based on actions, such as having an existing business relationship (making a purchase or donation, for example). In order to maintain implied consent, a contact must initiate a business action with you at least once every two years.  If express consent is not obtained within the two-year window, best practice is to move the contact to the “unsubscribe” state

Express consent is obtained when you explicitly ask your potential contacts for permission to send them email, and they agree. Once you obtain express consent, it is good forever or until someone opts out.

If you use the Constant Contact website sign-up form to collect email addresses it will contain the necessary information and you will have a record of express consent from your contacts that is documented within your Constant Contact account.

If you are using methods other than the Constant Contact website sign-up form, such as a third-party sign-up form, manually uploading a list, or a paper sign-up form, you’ll need to make sure you’re adding the appropriate CASL-compliant language to all of these sign-up methods and save documentation of the contact’s express permission.

Step 2: Obtain express consent

For contacts added prior to July 1, 2014, you must be able to document express consent before July 1, 2017 (three years after the law goes into effect).  After this date, all (Canadian) contacts older than two years without express consent must be moved to the unsubscribed state.

We recommend you start taking any necessary actions to comply with CASL sooner rather than later.

Review your email list and answer the following:

  • Do you have any contacts with an email address ending with .ca?
  • Do you have any contacts with a Canadian physical address or phone number associated with an email address?

If the answer is yes, we recommend sending a dedicated email to your Canadian contacts asking them to confirm their opt-in status by clicking a link within the email. When a contact clicks on the opt-in link in the email, the contact will be tracked as express consent by Constant Contact.

We created a special CASL template to make this process simple for you.

Step 3: Make sure ongoing communications have appropriate CASL required information

All marketing emails you send must contain the following information in order to be CASL compliant.

Make sure you can answer “yes” to the following questions:

  • Does the email clearly identify the person, business, or organization sending the message?
  • Does the email identify the Email Service Provider?
  • Does the email have a mechanism for people to easily unsubscribe at any time?
  • Does your email contain a valid mailing address and either a telephone number, email address, or web address?

Note: All emails sent through your Constant Contact account include the information above and will be in compliance with CASL.

Permission-based email marketing is the best route to developing long-lasting customer relationships.

We’ve seen that businesses that focus on permission-based marketing demonstrate that they value the trust and privacy of each and every customer. As a result, they have better open rates, less spam reports, and more opportunities to grow their business.

By building permission-based lists that follow CASL requirements, you’ll keep yourself safe by being in compliance and set yourself up for marketing success! Explore these resources specific to Canadian small business owners or common questions about Canada’s anti-spam legislation and skyrocket your business growth.