Understand telemarketing rules for compliance

The National Do Not Call List (DNCL) is designed to reduce the number of unwanted telemarketing calls and faxes Canadian consumers receive.

The National DNCL is a key part of the CRTC's Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules. These rules include the Telemarketing Rules, National DNCL Rules, and Automatic Dialing and Announcing Device Rules.

Consumers must sign up to have their cellular, home phone or fax numbers included on the National DNCL. Once they register, their information is added within 24 hours. For each new registration, telemarketers have a 31-day grace period to update their own calling lists. Prior to September 30, 2013 the rules stated that registration of a number would be for a period of five years. However, on September 30, 2013 the CRTC extended the registration period to six years. This means that registrations due to expire have been expended for a year. This extension has been granted while the CRTC evaluates the possibility of making registration on the National DNCL permanent.

There are two types of telemarketers: regular and exempt

  • regular telemarketers are those who make calls or send faxes to sell or promote a product or service, or to request donations. Regular telemarketers are exempt where they have an existing commercial relationship with consumers.
  • exempt telemarketers include registered charities, newspapers, political parties, as well as organizations that conduct market research, polls and surveys. 

Am I a regular telemarketer?

You are a regular telemarketer if you:

  • use telecommunications technologies to make telemarketing calls or send faxes to consumers for the purpose of solicitation (the act of selling or promoting a product or service or requesting money or equivalent directly or indirectly, for oneself or for another party), or
  • hire a third-party agency to make telemarketing calls or send faxes on your behalf.

 Both you and the agency must follow the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules.

Calls made for the purpose of market research, polls or surveys are not considered telemarketing calls.

Am I an exempt telemarketer?

Certain telemarketing calls and faxes are exempt from the National DNCL rules, and those who make them are referred to as exempt telemarketers. Exempt telemarketers include:

  • registered charities raising funds
  • newspapers looking for subscriptions
  • political parties and their candidates
  • companies who only make telemarketing calls and send faxes to businesses

Also exempt are companies who make telemarketing calls or send faxes only to consumers with whom they have an existing business relationship. A company has an existing business relationship with a consumer if the consumer:

  • has purchased, leased, or rented a product or service from the company in the last 18 months
  • is in possession of a written contract with the company for a service that is still in effect or has expired within the last 18 months, and/or
  • has made an inquiry or has submitted an application to the company about a product or service within the last six months.

Being an exempt telemarketer does not eliminate your responsibility to maintain your own internal do not call list.

Don't assume that your calls or faxes are exempt. For full details, see Part II of the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules and the Telecommunications Act.


Registration and subscription

All telemarketers must register with the National DNCL.  Even if you only make exempt calls or send exempt faxes, you must still register. Register online at www.LNNTE-DNCL.gc.ca. There is no charge for registration.

If you’re a regular telemarketer, you must purchase a subscription for the area codes you intend to call. Fees will be based on the subscription model you choose. You must also download the numbers from the National DNCL and delete them from your calling lists. The version of the National DNCL that you’re using must not be older than 31 days.

If you’re only making telemarketing calls or sending faxes that are exempt from the National DNCL, you don’t have to purchase a subscription to, or download, the National DNCL.

For more information, see Part II of the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules.


Rules all telemarketers must follow when making a call or sending a fax

Among other things, you must:

  • identify who you are and, upon request, provide a fax or telephone number where the person being called can speak to someone about the telemarketing call
  • display the telephone number that you’re calling from or that the consumer can call to reach you, and
  • only call or send faxes between 9:00 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. on weekdays and between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on weekends.

You must comply with the Telemarketing Rules at all times.

You must also comply with the Automatic Dialing and Announcing Device (ADAD) Rules, which are devices that dial telephone numbers automatically and deliver a pre-recorded message.


Other responsibilities

You’re responsible for making sure your calling lists are current and that you don’t call the home phone, cellular or fax numbers of consumers on the National DNCL.

You must also maintain your own internal do not call list even if you only make calls or send faxes that are exempt from the National DNCL. If a consumer asks not to be contacted, you must add their name and number to your own internal do not call list within 14 days. You can’t call or send faxes to the consumers on your own internal do not call lists.


Complaints and enforcement

Canadians can make a complaint through the National DNCL website (www.LNNTE-DNCL.gc.ca) or by calling the toll-free numbers 1-866-580-DNCL (1-866-580-3625) or 1-888-DNCL-TTY (1-888-362-5889).

The CRTC investigate complaints and can penalize telemarketers found to be in violation of the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules, which include the Telemarketing Rules, National DNCL Rules and Automatic Dialing and Announcing Device Rules.

The CRTC can levy penalties of up to $1,500 for an individual and up to $15,000 for a corporation, for each violation.

If you’re able to show that you exercised due diligence to prevent the violation, the judgment may be overturned. You’re also entitled to take your case to the Federal Court. For more information on the appeal process, refer to Telecom Decision CRTC 2007-48.


Checklist for regular telemarketers

If you engage in telemarketing for the purpose of solicitation, or hire an agency to do so for you:

  • You must register and subscribe to the National DNCL.
  • Non-compliance can result in significant financial penalties – so be sure you understand your responsibilities.
  • You’re responsible for making sure you do not call or send faxes to any numbers registered on the National DNCL or on your own internal do not call list.
  • If you think your calls or faxes may be among those exempt from the List, refer to the full details on exemptions in Telecom Decision CRTC 2007-48
  • The National DNCL does not eliminate your responsibility to maintain your own internal do not call list.
  • Every call made and faxes sent to consumers must follow the CRTC’s Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules.

Checklist for exempt telemarketers

If you engage in telemarketing:

  • You must register with the National DNCL.
  • If you think your calls or faxes may be among those exempted from the List, confirm by getting the full details on exemptions; see Part II of the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules and the Telecommunications Act.  
  • Even if you’re exempted from the National DNCL you’re still required to maintain your own internal do not call list.
  • Every call made or fax sent to consumers must follow the CRTC’s Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules, including identifying yourself and the purpose of the call to the consumer at the beginning of the call and respecting the time limitations.
  • Non-compliance with the Telemarketing Rules and ADAD Rules can result in significant financial penalties—so be sure you understand your responsibilities.