What You Need to Know About Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL)

Canada’s new spam law, better known as CASL, is set to take effect on July 1, 2014. Similar to CAN-SPAM here in the U.S., Canada’s upcoming legislation is a way for regulators to help consumers dodge unsolicited commercial electronic messages sent via email, text and other channels. Here’s a quick overview.

What is CASL?

CASL is a Canadian anti-spam law that protects Canadian email subscribers (those who have an email address using a .ca top level domain). The law is broken down into three parts that will require email marketers to have:

  • Consent – Senders need to get recipient approval to send marketing messages
  • Identification – Identify who you are and whom you’re sending on behalf of
  • Unsubscribe Link – Every message must have a valid unsubscribe option

Does CASL only apply to email?

No, CASL also affects commercial electronic messages that are sent to other forms of electronic addresses. An electronic address is defined by CASL as an email account, telephone account, instant message account and some social media accounts. For example, Facebook messaging or LinkedIn messaging would fall within CASL’s restrictions.

Who needs to worry about CASL?

Pretty much anyone who has no user consent or does not track or store this data. Likewise, those who purchase subscribers through other entities will be affected. Marketers who don’t clearly identify who they are or don’t use unsubscribe links should also take caution.

Steps you can take inside your AWeber account

At any time, you can log in to your AWeber account to check opt-in confirmation for subscribers who have a .ca email address. From your account homepage:

  • Select “Subscribers” from the top menu
  • Choose “Manage Subscribers”
  • From the “Select field” drop down menu, choose “email” “ends with” and type .ca
  • View the Subscriber Information for each user to obtain opt-in date, opt-in ID and the IP address that was used to confirm opt-in

Best practices

Although it is not required by CASL or CAN-SPAM, industry best practice says marketers should re-engage their email subscribers every six months to confirm they want to continue receiving content. What better way to ensure you’re giving subscribers what they want than by asking? Check out How Can I Re-Engage Inactive Subscribers?

More information

The AWeber Service Agreement may differ from what’s required by CASL so be sure to visit Canada’s anti-spam legislation website for additional guidelines and steps you should take to ensure you’re CASL compliant.

This post was updated on 6/20/14 to further clarify CASL and how it will affect commercial electronic message sending.


  1. Jermaine Pleas

    6/19/2014 6:57 pm

    You can always count on Aweber to stay on top of things in everything about email. Splendid steps you have outlined Andrea, will definitely inform my friends about this.

  2. Sonia Simone

    6/30/2014 2:27 pm

    Great article and I was glad to link to it in our own analysis over at Copyblogger. 🙂

    One point of clarification — it’s been pointed out to me, by those who have read the law much more closely than I have, that the law applies to all residents of Canada, not just those using a .ca domain address. Whether or not that can be enforced is a whole different question, and of course these are things we should be doing *anyway*, but just thought that might be a useful point for your readers.

  3. Forest Linden

    7/2/2014 11:13 pm

    Great post here!

    One thing that I’m confused about regarding this new law: when I first read about it, I took it to mean that it means we always have to use double opt-in now…for everyone…because you never know which prospects coming onto your list are Canadians or not.

    But the “consent” section of the law, as you’ve summarized it here, doesn’t mention anything about needing to use double opt-ins. It just says that we need to get permission from folks in Canada in order to email them.

    We use double opt-ins most of the time, but for some launches, we use a single opt-in process so that prospects can access free content immediately after hitting the submit button to submit their name and email address.

    My question is this: is the CASL law’s need for permission to email covered by a single opt-in sign up process, or does it have to be a double opt-in sign up process?

    Thanks much for any insight into this, and thanks, Sonia, for recommending this post 😉