Anti-spam laws in the UK

The legal environment changes all the time, so the information and links below may be out of date. Be sure to check with your local regulatory authority or legal experts for the latest information.

The UK's interpretation and implementation of the EU privacy and spam regulations.


The British government implemented the relevant EU directive in December 2003 with the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. The legislation has attracted criticism for being too weak, for example by making it legal to send unsolicited email to businesses on a purely opt-out basis. Tougher legislation can be expected in the future. Mainstream advertisers also need to comply with industry self-regulation in the form of various codes of practice (see below for links).

Related categories:
Anti-spam resources

Key documents

Privacy and Electronic Communications
This page at the UK's Information Commissioner's Office directs you to relevant regulations, guidelines, FAQs and other documents governing the sending of commercial email in the UK.

Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations
Full text of the legislation, published as Statutory Instrument 2003 No. 2426.

Guidance notes
The above Office's official guidance documents for the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations.

Companies Act (Trading Disclosures)
Information on the additional trading information a company is required to disclose in any emails that can be considered business correspondence.

Direct Marketing Association
This page links to the UK DMA's various codes of practice. The main DM Code is obligatory for members, while the specific guidelines on email marketing best practices are recommendations.

British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing
The UK advertising industry's self-regulatory code for non-broadcast advertising includes direct and indirect references to email marketing. The code is enforced by the independent Advertising Standards Authority.