What are acceptable and unacceptable ways for Certified senders to gather email addresses?

Certified senders must only send email to subscribers who have opted in to receive it. 

Acceptable methods

Acceptable methods for getting consent from subscribers include:

  • Confirmed opt-in: Subscribers take a single step to confirm their subscription, such as selecting a check box.
  • Double opt-in: Subscribers receive a confirmation email once they opt in and must click a link to confirm their desire to be added to the list. This helps you make sure the subscribers on your list actually wants your mail (and did not accidentally sign up, feel pressured into signing up, or change their mind). This helps decrease the possibility of someone being on your list who does not want to be.
  • Pre-selected opt-in: You pre-select subscribers to receive your promotional emails by checking a box clearly stating this. By leaving the checked box intact, subscribers consent to receive your email. This option is not foolproof because not all subscribers will notice the check box. This practice is not permitted for co-registration.
  • Pre-selected opt-in with confirmation: This practice sends a confirmation email to recipients who left the pre-selected opt-in check box intact. This helps decrease the possibility of someone being on your list who does not want to be.
  • Co-registration: This practice gives subscribers the option to sign up and receive mail from a third party. Co-registration is acceptable only if acceptable forms of consent and disclosure are present and if the subscriber is only signed up to one list. Use co-registration with caution; it can be confusing to recipients if they do not remember leaving boxes checked and, in effect, accidentally signed up for emails they did not expect.

Even though these forms of consent are acceptable, subscribers may still complain if they accidentally opted in to receive email they did not want. Always make sure subscribers are fully aware of all the commercial email they will receive and who will be sending it.

Unacceptable methods

Some unacceptable methods of gathering emails are:

  • Renting, harvesting, or purchasing lists: These modes of gathering email addresses do not involve gaining active consent from recipients; therefore, they are not allowed.
  • Co-registration: This practice is unacceptable only if the sender uses one check box to sign up users to multiple third-party email lists. Recipients must be able to opt into one list at a time, as well as manage all parties they want to receive email from.
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