How to stop unsolicited ads in Europe

Mail ads for clothing catalogues, unsolicited phone advertisements for promotional offers or private lotteries, order forms for miraculous products: in every EU country you may receive a flow of ad mails in your letterbox, etc.

Update : Oct 2016

If you do not want to receive such mail anymore, you can register to a Mail Preference Service (MPS) list or a National Do Not Call Registry.

Unfortunately there is no pan-European List including all communication channels, therefore you will have to register on your domestic Lists and if you receive ads from other EU countries, you will have to register in each Member state.

How to register on the list

No specific regulation

Click on the map to have more information.

Austria

The so-called Robinson List contains the name and address of Austrian people and companies who intend to avoid personally addressed mail. It is operated by the Professional Association and Marketing Communication Industry of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber. Cold calling for commercial purposes is not allowed without the prior consent of the subscriber in Austria.

Applicable law:
Sect. 107 of "Telecommunication Act, Austrian Federal Law Gazette No. 70/2003 " (Telekommunikationsgesetz 2003 - TKG 2003, BGBl. I Nr. 70/2003 as amended by BGBl. I Nr. 133/2005)

Contracts connected to winnings, bets or lotteries, which are concluded on the telephone, are not allowed.

In addition, phone calls with the aim of cold calling/unsolicited calls are forbidden if the trader doesn’t ask for the permission of the consumer.

Belgium

There are 2 different lists in which consumers can register themselves to avoid any commercial solicitation.

  • Consumers who no longer wish to receive commercial solicitations by regular mail can register to the Robinson mail list:         
    LISTE ROBINSON

    Belgian Direct Marketing Association (BDMA)
    Noordkustlaan 1,
    BE-1702 Groot-Bijgaarden
  • Consumers who want to avoid direct marketing by phone from any company, can register to the “Do not call me” list.
    https://www.ne-m-appelez-plus.be/
    Tel: 078/77 00 12
    ASBL DNCM
    Noordkustlaan 2B
    BE-1702 Grand-Bigard

Regarding direct marketing by email, fax or SMS, the consumer has to contact the respective company directly and ask for deleting his/her personal data from their data base.

The use of automatic call systems without human intervention for marketing purposes is not allowed unless the consumer gives his/her authorization.

Bulgaria

No specific reglementation.

Croatia

When a trader contacts a consumer via telephone, it is necessary to state his/her identity or the identity of the person on whose behalf he/she is contacting the consumer. Also, certain pre-contractual information obligations have to be respected during the telephone call, more precisely, need to be pointed out the nature of the goods in question, information about the trader, the price of the goods as well as the conditions, deadlines and procedure for the consumer to exercise the cooling-off right to be able to withdraw from the contract. Also, it is obligatory to deliver all the pre-contractual information on paper or other appropriate durable medium after the arrangement over the phone.

Since October 2015, if the consumer doesn’t want to receive offers or ads from tele-operators via phone or e-mail, he/she can register with a special Do Not Call Registry lead by the Croatian Regulatory Authority for Network Industry. This registry consists of a list of consumers who expressly stated their desire not to be contacted by teleoperators. Therefore, before contacting consumers, the professionals will have to check the registry.

Cyprus

The only way for consumers to have their personal details deleted or excluded from direct marketing is by contacting directly the company in question and requiring such a deletion and/or exclusion.

Czech Republic

There is no Robinson list in the Czech Republic.

The general rule is that traders always need the consent from the consumer to be allowed to speak to him/her and try to present him/her any commercial communications. In practice, this means that each phone call should start with a question whether the consumer agrees to such a phone call.

Denmark

The Robinson list is administered by the Danish Civil Registration System and is updated on a quarterly basis.

The phone selling requires prior consent but there are a few exceptions:

Traders may not, without a prior request communicate in person or by telephone with a consumer at his residence or workplace or another place to which there is no public access with a view to obtaining, immediately or subsequently, an offer or acceptance of an offer to conclude a contract.

However, this does not apply to communications by telephone concerning

  1. ordering books
  2. subscribing to newspapers, weeklies and periodicals
  3. brokering insurance contracts
  4. subscribing to rescue services or ambulance transport

Estonia

It is not possible for a consumer to ask the Estonian Direct Sales Association (EDSA) to delete his/her personal data as EDSA doesn‘t collect, process and use any personal data of consumers and doesn‘t have access to direct sales companies databases/lists. If a consumer wants to delete his personal data to be deleted from direct sales company(ies) database(s), he/she shall refer directly to the respective company(ies).

Finland

The self-regulatory organization called ”Asiakkuusmarkkinointiliitto” (Direct Marketing Association) manages Robinson registers.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The Direct Marketing Association maintains a register of individuals who do not wish to receive addressed direct marketing and a register for refusals of telephone marketing. Addressed direct marketing and telephone sales calls may be refused for 3 years at a time.

Consumers can add themselves to the register.

Telemarketing of mobile phone subscriptions is banned for a period of three years (1.8.2012 – 1.7.2015). The legislation for a marketing ban was initiated due to problems that have merged in telemarketing.

The ban applies to telemarketing for new customers. The ban will not apply to telemarketing to an operator’s old customers or to marketing a customer or to marketing a customer has specifically requested.

The members of the Direct Marketing Association honour the refusals in these registers.

France

For the French legal situation please read the article “unsolicited ads in France”.

Germany

The "Robinson list" is managed by the Deutsche Dialogmarketing Verband e. V. (DDV). The registration to this list can be done for 5 years and for free  :

Phone calls, fax and SMS are allowed only if the consumer agrees to it (if it was not agreed, the consumer can report to the competent authority: http://www.wettbewerbszentrale.de/de/Beschwerdestelle/Hinweise/).

Cold calling is forbidden.

Greece

In Greece, phoning or sending SMSs to consumers for product-selling or general commercial purposes is forbidden without prior consent. A consumer is considered to have consented, if he/she has previously been asked and clearly has agreed to disclose his/her phone contact details for product-selling or commercial purposes. If a consumer has once consented, he/she retains the right to withdraw such consent whenever he/she wishes in the future. If a consumer has not consented and yet receives unsolicited calls and SMSs for product-selling or commercial purposes, he/she is entitled to submit a complaint to the competent authorities (which in Greece is the Data Protection Authority).

E-mailing consumers for product-selling or general commercial purposes is allowed without prior consent, provided that: (a) e-mail addresses have been collected in the context of previous legal transactions, (b) consumers are given the right to oppose to future use of their e-mail addresses for product-selling or commercial purposes.

Hungary

No specific reglementation.

Iceland

The Registers Iceland maintains a registry of individuals who object to their names being used for marketing purposes. Everyone can ask to be in that registry and companies who use direct selling and marketing are obliged to check the registry. Individuals have the right to object to the processing of personal data relating to them which the controller (company etc.) anticipates being processed for the purposes of direct marketing.

Ireland

In Ireland, all phone numbers contained in public phone books or available through directory enquiries are held in a central record known as the National Directory Database (NDD). The NDD also maintain  the ’do not call’ direct marketing  register, so that consumers who are not willing to receive cold calls and unsolicited calls for telemarketing/direct marketing purposes can contact their telephone provider in order to make sure that this is recorded in the NDD. Direct marketing companies are required to purchase a copy of the NDD to see which phone numbers do not want to receive ‘cold calls’ and make sure that they do not call them.

Italy

By registering his/her name on the Public Register, a citizen chooses not to be contacted for commercial or promotional purposes or for carrying out market research through calling.    

Regarding other kinds of direct marketing, the citizen/consumer has to contact the respective companies directly and ask for the deleting his/her personal data from the company's data base.

Latvia

Before a service provider can contact a consumer, the consumer needs to give his/her consent. For this the service provider is required to provide the following information: name and address of the legal person in the name of which the commercial communication is distributed, product or service which will be advertised, means of electronic ways the commercial communication will be sent by. This information gives the consumer the possibility to evaluate if he/she wished to give a free and distinct consent to receive the concrete commercial communication.

Lithuania

No specific reglementation.

Luxembourg

If the trader has received contact details from the consumer, he/she has the permission to use them in order to sell similar goods to the ones the consumer bought from the trader. However the trader has to inform the consumer of his/her that he has the right to oppose to the use of his/her contact details at any time and for free.

Malta

Traders must at the beginning of the conversation provide the consumer with a set of information such as his/her identity, geographical address, contact details, the commercial purpose of the call and if the sales contract provides for a right of withdrawal or not, if yes the trader must provide consumer with the time limit and procedure for withdrawing.

A consumer may ask a trader not to make any distance contract solicitation addressed to him/her.

Netherlands

3 lists exist in the Netherlands:

1) the Bel-me-niet register (Do not call me register)

2) the Postfilter (Mail filter)

3) and from the Post and Telecommunications Authority. (Spam complaint)

Sellers have to inform the consumer on behalf of which trader they are calling and what the purpose is of the phone call (to sell something). During a telephone conversation sellers have to ask at any time if they are allowed to call the consumer again and if the consumer wants to be registered in the “don’t call me register”. Sellers are not allowed to call consumer who are registered in the “Do not call me register”.

Norway

A consumer can register all relevant telephone numbers through the website http://www.brreg.no/english/ which will exclude contact from traders using direct selling or marketing. If the company does not stop the advertising, the consumer may submit a complaint to the Ombudsmann (National CPC).  There is no way for the consumers to reserve themselves from selling and marketing over e-mail, fax and mobile phones, but it is not legal for companies to market themselves on these platforms if the consumer has not given his/her consent. If the consumer receives advertisement on these platforms, they may complain to the national CPC. They may also complaint to the national CPC if the company responsible for the marketing and selling is registered outside of Norway.

There are some exceptions such as if the trader has to update phone lists.

No one should be called after 8 P.M. on weekdays and on weekends. One of the most important exceptions is that the seller must not call the consumers that have opposed to this kind of phone calls.

Poland

The Polish Robinson's List (listarobinsonow.pl) is run by the business organization Direct Marketing Association since 1996, when it was registered by the General Inspector for Personal Data Protection. It contains names of people who do not wish to receive unsolicited mails with special offers and other advertising materials but only from companies that are members of this association. Other traders may also submit to its requirements but it is not obligatory tor them.

Traders during the phone call should provide a consumer with such details such as:

  • Full name of the company, company address and the body which registered the business activity, and the number under which the trader is registered;
  • The essential characteristics of performance and its object;
  • Price of goods or services (including taxes);
  • The basis of payment of the price or remuneration;
  • Cost, date and manner of delivery;
  • The consumer’s right to withdraw from the contract within ten days period;
  • The costs arising from the use of distance communication means of distance if they are calculated differently according to the normal fare;
  • The date on which the offer or the information on the price or remuneration are binding;
  • The minimum period for which the contract is to be concluded for the provision of continuous or periodic service;
  • The place and ways of filing complaints.

Furthermore, the above information should be clearly formulated in an understandable and easy to read manner. The trader is obligated to confirm to the consumer in writing all above information at the lates at the moment of performance of the contract.

Portugal

The Portuguese systems contains:

  • The System opt-out – a system based on the existence of a list. A consumer who doesn’t want to receive advertisement communications, by phone or by post mail, registers her/his name in the “Robinson” list.                                                            
  • The System opt-in – this system concerns unsolicited communications for direct marketing purposes, by means of automated calling and communication systems without human intervention (automatic calling machines), fax or electronic mail. Such communications are allowed only in respect of subscribers or users who have given their prior consent.

Applicable law

The “Robinson” list was imposed by the Portuguese law nr. 6/99 of January, 27 and the “Associação de Marketing Direto” (Direct Marketing Association).                                                                                 

 

Opt-in system : law 7/2004, of January, 7, last amended and republished on August , 29, by Law no 46/2012

 

 

Romania

No specific reglementation.

Slovakia

The Slovak Personal Data Protection Act (Bill No. 363/2005) does not foresee the existence of such a Registry, in which persons wishing not to be included in lists used by traders for distance promotion/provision/selling of goods and services can be registered.

Applicable law

Bill No. 428/2002

The trader shall provide to the consumer the information regarding to the identity of the trader, the commercial purpose of the call, the main characteristics of the goods or services, the total price, the right of withdrawal, the duration of the contract and, if the contract is of indeterminate duration, the conditions for terminating the contract. If a distance contract is to be concluded, it places the consumer under an obligation to pay, the trader shall make the consumer aware in a clear and prominent manner, and directly before the consumer places his order. The trader shall provide the consumer with the confirmation of the concluded contract, on a durable medium within a reasonable time after the conclusion of the distance contract, and at the latest at the time of the delivery of the goods or before the performance of the service begins.

Advertising of goods or services must not be disseminated by automatic telephone call systems, fax or electronic mail without the previous consent of their user who is the recipient of the advertisement.

 

 

 

Slovenia

In telephone conversations, a person who on behalf of a company establishes telephone contact with a consumer with the purpose to conclude a distance contract, must present at the beginning of the conversation the company and the commercial purpose of the call. Also some other essential information must be given, such as the  main characteristics of the product or service, the total price of the product or service, eventually delivery costs, right to withdraw, duration of the contract, …

For the purpose of concluding the contract the phoning company must send the consumer an order confirmation on a durable medium. The contract is concluded when the consumer signs the contract or writes a statement that he/she accepts the offer.

By registering its name in a telephone book, a consumer can choose not to be contacted for commercial or research purposes through the use of the phone.   

Spain

A specific association called “Asociación Española de Economía Digital” manages the “Robinson list”. Consumers can ask this association for being deleted from the list of specific companies who send regularly advertising by e-mail, post or mobile phone.

On the other hand, consumers have not the possibility of being on a list that excludes them from all offers, the request must be related to specific companies.

Morever, traders have the following obligations:

  • They shall disclose their identity and the commercial purpose of the call at the beginning of the conversation with the consumer;
  • They are obliged to make the calls from an identifiable telephone number;
  • They have to inform the consumers about their right to request not to receive further commercial calls;
  • Telemarketing calls cannot be make : before 9:00 AM, after 9:00 PM, during weekends or holidays.

Sweden

The self-regulatory organization "SWEDMA" manages Robinson registers. The Direct Marketing Association maintains a register of individuals who do not wish to receive addressed direct marketing and a register for refusals of telephone marketing. Addressed direct marketing and telephone sales calls may be refused for 3 years at a time. The members of the Direct Marketing Association honour the refusals in these registers.                                                                                                                            

  • To avoid advertising, a consumer can call Sema Group Info Data AB (telephone: 08-738 50 00, address: Box 34101, 100 26 Stockholm) or SWEDMA’s Nix register (telephone: 020-55 70 00) and ask to be added to the list of people who do not wish to receive advertising addresses to them. Consumers can also contact directly the company involved.                                             
  • Regarding unaddressed addvertising, you can attach a sign saying ”Nej tack – ingen reklam” (“No thanks – no advertising”) to your letter box.                                                                                                      
  • Concerning telephone sales calls, call 020-27 70 00. You can also write to Nix-telephone (Box 14038, 104 40 Stockholm) and request not to receive sales calls.
  • Last but not least, it is forbidden to e-mail advertisements to people who have asked not to receive any such advertisements.

Contracts regarding management or advice relating to certain pension products will only enter into effect after the consumer has confirmed the contract in writing.

United Kingdom

The telesales are regulated by OFCOM, the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries.

Although companies and organizations are allowed to make live telesales calls, they cannot call you if you have:

  • Told them previously that you want to receive telesales calls from them; 
  • Registered your number with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) or Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS), unless you have previously given a company permission to make marketing calls to you (e.g. by ticking or unticking a tick box on a form when starting a new service or getting a product from the company).

The law makes a distinction between live telesales calls (where there is a person on the line) and automated marketing calls when a recorded marketing message is played. Automatic recordings are not allowed.

We thank the European Consumer Centers for the provided information. Utmost care has been dedicated to their composition. However, the ECC France does not guarantee the accuracy of the information.

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