Email Spam Regulations in New Zealand

In New Zealand, the spam email regulations are very clear; you must have consent from your email recipients before sending them an email. Under the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007, consent is required if the message is of a commercial nature, whether it is sent in bulk or just a single message. There are three distinct types of consent in NZ:

  • Express - when you have been asked to send the person email messages. This usually occurs through a sign up page on a website where there has been an opt-in, sign up and confirmation procedure.
  • Inferred - when sending someone emails makes sense because you have a prior business relationship with them. 
  • Deemed - like a cold call, you can send relevant email messages to an address that is available in an official capacity. This address is usually seen on a live website and you are required to record details of how you found it in case you are asked. 

Definition of Spam in New Zealand

The Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2017 refers to spam as 'unsolicited commercial electronic messages'  which are sent with an NZ link (to, from or within NZ). This includes messages sent via email, text, fax and instant messaging. 

Spam is not:

  • replying to someone who asked you for a quote 
  • messages confirming a transaction the recipient agreed upon
  • sending information about warranties, product recalls, or other security and safety issues related to a product or service the recipient has received
  • details about a membership or subscription, loan or other ongoing relationship
  • information on the recipients employment or benefit plan they have
  • delivering goods or services the recipient is entitled to receive

Requirements for All Email Marketing 

There are three key requirements a commercial email must have in NZ:

  1. Consent - you must have at least one type of consent, as detailed above.
  2. Functional unsubscribe link - commercial emails need to provide recipients with the ability to unsubscribe from all future emails.  Once someone has unsubscribed, there is a grace period of five days but any emails sent afterwards are deemed to be spam.
  3. Senders contact information - you need to include a working contact address and name who authorised the sending of the email.

What Happens If You Send Spam Emails in NZ

In New Zealand, the Department of Internal Affairs or DIA is responsible for investigating complaints about spam sent within NZ. They can only act upon spam sent within the NZ boundaries, not from overseas. The steps they will take if they identify someone has knowingly sent spam include:

  • giving a formal warning
  • having the sender agree that they won't send spam again in writing
  • giving a fine to the individual or business who sent the spam
  • taking the sender to court

Reporting Spam Email Marketing in NZ

If you are the recipient of email spam, please report it directly to the Department of Internal Affairs. On their website, they have an online form you can complete, or you can forward them the spam email directly. 

  • Online DIA form: visit the DIA site and enter details including your name, email address, phone number and a summary of your complaint.
  • Email DIA directly: email the spam email you have received directly to complaint@spam.govt.nz 
From here your complaint will be allocated to an investigator who will look into it further. They will decide whether or not to take action and what their next steps would be.

For further information on the regulations regarding spam, please visit the DIA website

Posted: Wednesday 10 March 2021