Are Your Emails or Websites Breaking French Language Laws in Quebec?

According to Canada’s last census, there are more than 7.5 million residents in Quebec. Perhaps some of them would like to do business with you.

But there’s a hurdle. The French language.

In 1977, the National Assembly of the Province of Quebec adopted the Charter of the French Language. In short, it sets a rule that French must predominate in any business taking place in the province.  Chapter 52 of the Charter requires business publications to be authored in French.  They can be provided with translations in other languages, but the French part is mandatory.

That means that email marketers should make standard practice of supressing residents of Quebec, abbreviated PQ, from their English-only distributions—or face fines of up to $1,400 per instance.

But Can’t Subscribers Opt-In for Non-Translated Communications?
Non. Consumers can’t excuse their favorite emailers from obeying the law. The goal isn’t to keep email subscribers happy; it’s to make you write in French if you’re marketing in Quebec. Sorry.

There are subtleties, and you should seek legal advice when considering compliance.  Trademarks do not need to be translated, and there are exemptions for non-profit speech and certain trade publications.  But don’t get your hopes up. In virtually all cases, you’ll need to use that French-English dictionary if you want to market in Montreal.

5 Responses to "Are Your Emails or Websites Breaking French Language Laws in Quebec?"

  • ????????? ???????

    November 27, 2009

    ???… ??, ??? ???? ???????, ? ??? ? ???? ??? 🙂

  • battery-stores

    May 21, 2010

    Your article is good, I like it very much!

  • Mitchell Schwartz

    September 29, 2010

    Dave, I’m reading this post from Montreal. Looks like you’ve now broken Bill 101. Just send me the $1400. I’ll forward to the Ministre du revenu.

  • Jan

    October 13, 2014

    A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment. I do think
    that you ought to write more about this subject, it may not be a
    taboo matter but generally people don’t speak about these issues.

    To the next! Best wishes!!

  • Stephenie Pang

    September 29, 2020

    Has anything changed with regards to this law in the past 11 years?

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