The way businesses send email in Canada is about to change. On July 1, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) will take effect and many email marketers are scrambling to understand how they can best prepare.

The bad news is that understanding CASL might require an internal legal team to really get a grasp on things. Reading the thick, 53-page document that is full of regulations and bureaucratic language can definitely feel like a bit of a chore. But the law is important to understand because it entails new compliance requirements for any business that emails Canadians and there are monetary penalties for breaking the rules. Montreal-based software firm CakeMail has come to the rescue by creating four infographics that explain the broad strokes of the legislation and if you can follow a flow chart, then you can figure out if you’re affected and what you need to do about it.


If you’re a Canadian business or your business is contacting Canadian customers, then you’ll be expected to follow CASL. To that end, if you email other countries then you’ll be expected to comply with the email laws of that jurisdiction.


Many businesses will be familiar with CAN-SPAM, the US law that fights spam. CASL is more stringent in that it requires express consent from the people you email. You’ll be able to send email and other commercial electronic messages to your existing customers until July 1, 2017 but need to have express consent collected by then.


If your customer has specifically asked to receive emails from your business, then that’s express consent and there’s no concern that it will expire. But if there’s a business relationship and your customer hasn’t asked for emails from your business, you can email that contact for two years before you need to renew that relationship or gather express consent.


Finally, use this checklist to prepare for CASL one step at a time. The legislation will seem less scary once you start taking steps to get ready for it.

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  • Thank you for this article — just a note on that infographic… Most email addresses in Canada do not end in .ca as the graphic states. In fact, very few do. Businesses will not do themselves any favours if they use that to geolocate email addresses.

    • cakemail_mireille

      Hi Susan!

      Thanks for the comment. You’re absolutely right that email addresses ending in “.com” are the most prevalent in Canada right now. There listed methods are three alternate methods that businesses can use, since not a single one of them is foolproof:
      – Asking clients: usually the best but if your contacts don’t answer, you’re in limbo
      – Using Geolocation (using IP addresses, for example), which causes issue, for example, with anyone using Gmail to open their emails – as they’re shown as being opened in California
      – Emails ending in “.ca” are the third method, since owners of “.ca” domains must meet Canadian Presence Requirements, and as such emails are likely to be established in Canada.