Email is no doubt one of the most effective forms of marketing channels available.

It is incredibly quick and easy to get started with email marketing. Today’s new tools make it all the more easy for marketers be it first timer or experienced to create a campaign, update the list, and send it out.

However, before you start sending out emailers, it is important to have a basic understanding of the legalities around email marketing to ensure your brand isn’t breaking any and doesn’t face a problem.

To know about the ultimate guide to email marketing, click here.

The wild notoriety and longevity of email marketing has led to numerous complaints and lawsuits that, in turn, prompted to the establishment of email marketing guidelines in almost every part of the world. In this guide to email marketing, we're looking at legality.

The Law

Laws have now been set up that forestalls this sort of business, predominantly through the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. This was set up by President George Bush as a way of setting the national standard for sending commercial email. It’s short for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing and is a play on words to “can” i.e. get rid of the spam

The law

The law has made email marketing a little trickier for companies, but has reassured customers that their inboxes won’t be full of irrelevant or dangerous spam upon opening. Since the laws were made, trust has slowly been building back up and customers are happier to give their email address and other data to companies that they want to hear from. So we're back in the loop where those addresses that you do hold and can genuinely market to resemble gold.

To ensure that you don’t violate the laws and upset your customers with your email marketing campaign, it is very important that you are clued into the legal stipulations. It is $16,000 per infringement per individual email sent, so you really don’t want to be getting on the wrong side of the law here!

To save you from this we have listed out 7 Email Marketing Spam laws you need to know:

1. Ensure you have permission to email the people on your list

Most country’s email marketing laws specify that people need to give you permission to email them in order for you to send them campaigns.

The definition of permission varies between each country’s laws; however, there are generally two types of permission: implied permission and express permission.

Implied permission describes those with whom you have an existing business relationship. This could be because they are a current customer, donate to your charity, or are active member of your website, club, or community.

Express permission is granted when someone specifically gives you permission to send them email campaigns, potentially by entering their email address in a subscribe form on your website or entering their details into your in-store newsletter subscribe form.

1. Ensure you have permission to email the people on your list:

Remember that a customer’s consent to receiving information from you can be oral or written. The written side includes ticking a checkbox on a web form.                         

2. Don’t use misleading header information

Email marketing laws stipulate that you must not include incorrect or misleading information in these fields to try to trick people into opening your email campaigns.

Customers reserve a right to know whom the email has come from, so your “From”, “To”, and “Reply-To” must represent your company; or specifically, the company or individual who sent the message. Your data should be clear, including the origination domain name and email address.


3. Don’t use deceptive subject lines

Intriguing subject lines are the easiest way to get people hooked. Craft the subject lines in such a way so that it builds curiosity and the viewer ends up reading the mail. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.

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( Also Read : All You Need To Know About Content For Email Marketing )


4. Identify the message as an ad

Almost everyone identifies an ad as an email once they receive it and end up not opening it. However, over a period of time marketers have developed techniques and skills to draft the emailer in such a manner that it looks like a recommendation than an advertisement. The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.


5. Tell recipients where you’re located

The law clearly stipulates that you must clearly include a valid postal address for your business in your email campaigns. This can be your street address, a post-box address, or an address with a registered commercial mail-receiving company.


6. Tell recipients how to opt-out of receiving future email from you

Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting an email from you in the future. In the end, it is all about what the customer wants. They signed up voluntarily and if they chose to opt-out of the same, you should provide valid and clear instructions to do so.

Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you


7. Honor opt-out requests promptly

Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must make the opt-out as easy as possible and you cannot charge any fee against it nor can you pass on any personal data to anyone, apart from any company whom you have hired to assist you with the CAN-SPAM Act compliance.

The CAN-Spam act is practiced in the United States of America, however, with its precision, they are now considered as the general rules and regulations one must follow before sending an emailer.

The Email Marketing Laws are different for each country, listed below are email marketing laws practiced by 28 countries:

Sl. No.







1600 USD



Anti-Spam Legislation

1 Million CAD for individuals

10 Million CAD for Businesses



Spam Act of 2003

2.1 Million AUD


New Zealand

Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act

500,000 NZD + compensation for loss and damages


European Union

E-Privacy Directive

Determined by member states


United Kingdom

Data Protection Act

500,000 GBP and spamming is considered as a criminal offense



Article 22 of the “Loi du 21 juin 2004 pour la confiance dans l’économie numérique

750 EUR per individual




Federal Data Protection Act,

The Act against Unfair Competition, and

The Telemedia Act.

4,000 EUR per individual




Austrian Telecommunications Act 1997 and The Federal Act against Unfair Competition 2007.

37 Million EUR



The Federal Law against Unfair Competition 2007 and the Telecommunications Law – 2003 Amendment

3 years in prison or CHF 100,000



The Spanish Act on Information Society Services and Electronic Commerce 2002

600,000 EUR



The Italian Personal Data Protection Code 2003

3 years in prison or 90,000 EUR



The Dutch Telecommunications Act 1998

450,000 EUR



The Law of March 11, 2003

50,000 EUR



The Marketing Control Act 2009, and the Electronic Commerce Act 2003

6 months in prison. Fine amount not described.



Regulation of Electronic Commerce 2014 No 6563

15,000 TRY for repeat offenders up to 10x



Russian Civil Code (art.309).

Not Described



The Measures for the Administration of Internet email Services 2006 and

The Consumer Rights Protection Law 2013

10,000 to 30,000 CNY per individual email



Information Technology Act 2000

500,000 INR and 2X for repeat conviction



Relevant regulations are Decree No. 90/2008/ND-CP 2008 on anti-spamming and Decree No. 77/2012/ND-CP supplementing and amending the formerly mentioned regulation.

10 Million To 50 million VND, except for those misusing the name and email of another organization it is 60 Million to 80 Million VND


South Korea

Act on Promotion of Information and Communication Network Utilization and Information Protection

5 Million KRD



The Regulation of Transmission of Specified Electronic Mail 2002

1 year in prison or

1 Million JPY for Individuals,

30 Million JPY for Businesses




The Unsolicited Electronic Communications Policy in 2010

10 Million AED



Movimento Brasileiro de Combate ao Spam

Not Described



Personal Data Protection Act

1,000 to 100,000 ARS



The Law n° 09-08 of 18 February 2009

Not Described



The Nigerian [Cybercrime Act 2015]

3 years in prison and/or 1 Million NGN


South Africa

The Consumer Protection Act,

The Protection of Personal Information Act and the Electronic Communications and

Transactions Act.

1 Year in prison or fine amount (not described)


These were the rules and regulations followed by different countries so before you engage in email marketing activities abroad, make sure you are familiar with SPAM legislation in your countries of operation. Still, do not forget that this is not the only aspect you should investigate.

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You obviously don’t want to be that company that violates their customers’ personal space! Before sending an email, make sure you are complying with all the rules and regulations as stated by the CAN-Spam Act. It’s not too complicated and in the long run, helps your business establish trust and build brand value.

Learn more about email marketing here.

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