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What You Need to Know about Canada’s Super-Strict Anti-Spam Law

What Canada’s Anti-Spam Law Means for Your Email Marketing Program

Heads up, American online business owners!

Our neighbors to the north now have one of the toughest new anti-spam laws in the world. Canada’s government has been phasing it in gradually, and if and when the final provisions are fully implemented, individual spam recipients in Canada will be able to sue businesses for breaking the law.

That means you need to know the rules for email marketing to Canadian customers and clients.

Before we delve into the details of email marketing to Canada, if you’re not seeking Canadian customers already, now’s a good time to ask yourself why not—especially if you plan to expand into other countries later on.

US-based businesses earn about a third of Canadian consumers’ cross-border purchases, and Canada’s total e-commerce spend will reach $50 billion within two years. With a shared language in much of the country and similar holidays, it’s a good “starter” market for international sales expansion – as long as you play by the digital marketing rules.

What are the differences between US and Canadian anti-spam laws?

Each country’s anti-spam rules are detailed and cover a lot more ground in legal language than we can cover in a short article. Here are the main points for comparison.

In the US, the CAN-SPAM law, which stands for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing:

Meanwhile, Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL):

CAN-SPAM has been around in the US since 2003. CASL is more recent and has been phased in since 2014. CASL’s final phase – allowing individual spam recipients to sue senders – was supposed to take effect this summer. However, the Canadian government put it on hold for further review, saying it was concerned about the regulatory burden on businesses and nonprofits.

 

How can you stay on the right side of Canada’s anti-spam rules?

Compliance is important, not only for legal reasons but also because your email marketing service and  web host may close your accounts if you get flagged as a spammer. In general, if you follow CASL’s stricter rules you’re also probably CAN-SPAM compliant, although you should check with your business attorney if you have questions. Just remember that basic courtesy can help your business stay on the right side of your recipients—on both sides of the border:

Making sure your emails and texts comply with CASL takes some time, but the investment can pay off in the form of new customers–plus cross-border marketing and sales experience you can use to expand into even more markets abroad later on.