Browse topics

  • Governing law
    NameLaw or Code?

    The Criminal Code

    Law (federal)

    The Competition Act

    Law (federal)

    Act Respecting Lotteries, Publicity Contests and Amusement Machines

    Law (province of Québec)

    Charter of the French Language

    Law (province of Québec)

    Canada's Anti-Spam Law

    Law (federal)
    Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act

    Law (federal)

    Various provincial privacy legislation

    Law (provincial)

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Extra-territoriality

    Regulators can attempt to enforce the laws against foreign entities, although there are few published examples of such enforcement activities.

    The province of Québec, in particular, has specific rules dealing with foreign entities and, for example, requires foreign entities to pay a bond if the value of the prizes exceeds certain thresholds.

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Skills competitions

    Yes, and this avoids the need to impose a skill-testing question requirement prior to awarding a prize. However, it likely does not overcome the 'no purchase entry' requirement unless the amount of the potential prize is no greater than the purchase amount.

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Prize draws

    Yes, but before being awarded a prize, contestants must correctly answer a skill-testing question. The question must be a true test of skill, and ideally should be administered within a limited amount of time.

    Also, contestants must be able to enter the draw without paying any money or providing any other form of consideration.

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Selection of winners

    There are no specific requirements for how winners are selected, except that:

    • The selection must be done fairly, giving each entrant an equal chance of winning

    • The selection process must be disclosed clearly in all rules, advertisements, and point of purchase materials, and

    • Winners must be notified within 30 days

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Judges

    There are no specific requirements for judging, except that:

    • The judging must be done fairly, and

    • The criteria and method of selection must be disclosed clearly in all rules, advertisements, and point of purchase materials

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Prizes

    There are no specific restrictions on prizes. However, the number of prizes and their approximate retail value must be disclosed clearly in all rules, advertisements, and point of purchase materials.

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Registration requirements and fees

    The only jurisdiction in Canada that requires registration is Québec. Registration and payment of a registration fee at least 30 days in advance is required if the total value of the prizes exceeds a minimal threshold (currently CDN$1000 (approx. US$760)). It may also be necessary to pay a bond in some cases.

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Other local requirements

    As mentioned above, Canadian contest law generally requires a no-purchase entry option and correctly answering a skill testing question prior to being awarded a prize.

    Canadian law also requires the following to be disclosed in all rules, advertisements, and point of purchase materials:

    • The conditions for entering the contest

    • The prizes

    • The method of awarding the prizes

    • The number and approximate value of retail value of the prizes

    • Whether any purchase is required

    • Whether there is a skill-testing question

    • The chances of winning

    • The contest closing date

    • The place where full contest rules may be obtained, and

    • Any other relevant information

    Canadian privacy law requires consent prior to collecting, using and disclosing personal information from any individual, including a contest entrant.

    Canadian anti-spam laws require individuals and entities (including contest providers) to obtain consent before sending any commercial electronic messages to or from Canada (including to contest entrants), and to provide certain disclosures and unsubscribe mechanisms in those messages. This must be done in a particular way.

    The age of majority in Canada is 18 in some provinces and 19 in others. Minors can participate in a contest with parental consent; however, in general, contracts signed by minors are unenforceable. Therefore, contest entries and prize waivers/releases should be signed by parents/guardians and should contain personal indemnities from the parents/guardians.

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Timing

    Yes, if the contest will be open to Québec residents, then registrations are required at least 30 days prior to the contest commencing.

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Translations

    Yes, all relevant documentation must be translated into French if the contest will be open to Québec residents.

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Penalties for non-compliance

    Violation of Canadian contest laws can be a criminal offence, which is punishable by a fine or by imprisonment of up to two years. There appear to be few cases where imprisonment has been imposed, but even for those without imprisonment, then court has issued fines and criminal records against the contest providers.

    The consequences for misleading advertising under the federal Competition Act can include a penalty of up to CDN$10 million (approx. US$7,600,000) for a first offence. Typically penalties are much lower than the maximum, but still significant; for example, one contest provider was fined CDN$170,000 (approx. US$130,000) for running misleading contests.

    The consequences for violation Canada's antispam legislation can include a penalty of up to CDN$10 million (approx. US$7,600,000) per occurrence. To date, the largest penalty issued under the legislation has been CDN$1.1 million (approx. US$838,000).

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Restrictiveness of regulations

    Canadian contest laws are slightly more onerous than those of other countries, due to the no-purchase entry option, the skill-testing question requirement, the disclosure requirements, and the privacy/anti-spam restrictions.

    Quebec contest laws are significantly more onerous because they require registration, translation and bonds. Accordingly, many contests in Canada exclude Quebec registrants.

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Regularity of sanctions

    Fines and prison sentences are rarely imposed, but they can be quite serious when they are imposed.

    Last modified 10 Feb 2017

  • Key contacts
    Chris Bennett
    Chris Bennett
    Partner DLA Piper (Canada) LLP [email protected] T +1 604 643 6308 View bio
    Dave Spratley
    Dave Spratley
    Associate Counsel DLA Piper (Canada) LLP [email protected] T +1 604 643 6359 View bio

Governing law

What are the applicable governing laws or codes for prize promotions?

Canada

Canada

NameLaw or Code?

The Criminal Code

Law (federal)

The Competition Act

Law (federal)

Act Respecting Lotteries, Publicity Contests and Amusement Machines

Law (province of Québec)

Charter of the French Language

Law (province of Québec)

Canada's Anti-Spam Law

Law (federal)
Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act

Law (federal)

Various provincial privacy legislation

Law (provincial)