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What is CAN-SPAM opt out and how do you set it up?

What is CAN-SPAM opt out and what does it require? Find out how to set up for the US CAN-SPAM Act using the explanation and example below.

CAN-SPAM Act communication guidelines and opt out rules - iubenda blog

What is the CAN-SPAM Act?

The CAN-SPAM Act is a federal regulation that sets the rules for commercial messages, including email.
Under CAN-SPAM, you must provide the option to opt-out of further communication when sending any electronic commercial message of which the primary purpose is “the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service”.

CAN-SPAM opt-out, therefore, refers to the legally required option to opt out of contact, which must be provided to recipients in accordance with the rules listed below.

More on compliance for websites and apps

This article is a part of our series on compliance for websites and apps. Read also:

👉 Marketing Consent in the GDPR

What are the CAN-SPAM main requirements?

Under the Act, you do not need consent prior to adding users located in the US to your mailing list or sending them commercial messages, however, it is mandatory that you provide users with a clear means of opting out of further contact.

The main CAN-SPAM Requirements are listed below.

  • Use truthful header information: Your name, email address and routing information (including domain) must be accurate and correctly identify you as the sender of the message.
  • Do not use misleading subject lines: Subject lines must give an accurate depiction of message content.
  • Identify the message as an ad: The identification must be “clear and conspicuous.”, i.e obvious and easy for the recipient to see.
  • Tell recipients where you’re located: You must include your valid physical postal address.
  • Monitor what others are doing on your behalf: Even if you’ve out-sourced your email marketing to another company, the law may hold both you and the other company responsible.
  • Inform users of and provide a visible opt-out or unsubscribe option. The “unsubscribe” option must be east to see and must clearly explain how the recipient can opt-out of receiving future communication from you. This information must be easy for an average user to recognize, read, and understand.
    • The ability to unsubscribe should be free and should not be behind a login process. This means that users must be able to unsubscribe without paying a fee and without needing to log into their account to do so. The FTC states: You can’t charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an e-mail address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply e-mail or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request.
    • The unsubscribe link must be valid for at least 30 days after you’ve sent the email;
    • You must honor unsubscribe requests within 10 days

The law makes no exception for B2B (business to business) contact, which must, therefore, also follow the rules.

You can read about exemptions from the CAN-SPAM rules here.

Can-Spam opt out example

A practical way to implement CAN-SPAM opt out would be to simply include an “unsubscribe” link in the email or message, together with a statement informing the user of the option to opt out (as legally required).

For example: “You are receiving this business communication from [Business Name] as you have expressed your interest in [our products and services]. If you no longer wish to receive these communications, you can unsubscribe by clicking here”.

Other US (and EU) laws to take note of

  • If you have potentially have users based in the state of California, then the CCPA (Californian Consumer Privacy Act) could be relevant to you. Learn more about the CCPA and how to comply here.
  • Have EU users? Learn about EU commercial communication rules and how to comply here.

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