December 28, 2013

Giveaway Laws in the US and Other Countries

Giveaways have become really popular on blogs.  They're a great way for a blog to get more traffic and for shops (both small and large) to promote their products.   But what laws govern giveaways?

OK, lets start by saying that I'm no lawyer, and none of this should count for legal advice.  But here are some resources I found to answer those questions:

These are great articles overviewing both laws in the US and some concerns about international giveaways:

-Givewaways: Official Rules and Legal Stuff
-Is Your Giveaway Legal?

If you want to make your giveaway open in other countries, things get more complex.  The following articles were helpful as a general overview:

Challenges of Running and International Sweepstake:
Part 1: Overview
Part 2: Language & Taxation Issues
Part 3: Fulfillment and Compliance Issues

Basically, you have to research the laws governing giveaways in whatever country you are opening your giveaway to.  I have found some info on a few countries you can start with.

Countries That Require Translation Into Official Language:
Giveaway rules and in some cases related advertisements, websties, and other related materials. must be translated into the official language of these countries to be legal:  Argentina, France, Mexico, and Poland.  I'm not sure what other countries may share this requirement, and the countries listed above may have additional legal restrictions.   (Source)

Countries That Tax Winner of Prize
India, Norway, and the United States all tax winner's prizes.  Other countries may do this as well. So it's important to state that taxes are the responsibility of the winner (unless of course you plan to pay them).  (Source)

Countries That Tax Prize Provider or Giveaway Host
Some countries,  including Brazil, Mexico, Spain, and parts of Australia  impose taxes directly on the marketer and may even require pre-registration with local tax authorities. (Source 1, 2)

THE U.S. Government Has Trade Restrictions With Some Countries
The US government also severely restricts trade with several countries, including Cuba and North  you probably could not mail your prize to these countries if you live in the US. You can find a list of countries with special restrictions here and learn more about trade restrictions here

Lack of Adequate Postal System 
Just because someone from an area can access the internet, doesn't mean that they have a viable means to receive physical mail.   There are many places around the world where the postal system is shoddy or non-existent.  (Cambodia is one country I've been told is hard to get mail to people in). 

Basically, that leaves me thinking that truely WW (worldwide) giveaways that are also legal are a myth.  World Wide usually actually means, world-wide with exceptions.  


Canada requires that there be some aspect of skill.  You can ask Canadians a 3 part math question to reach that requirement.  More info here. Unfortunately there are stricter rules for Quebec, including registering and paying a fee up to 10% of the prize value.  More here.

United Kingdom
Giveaways are regulated by the Gambling Act of 2005.  The good news seems to be that if you're giveaway is free you are most likely OK.  You just have to make sure that entries you have won't be seen as having a monetary value.  This conversation helped me out.  It says that according to the Gambling commission in the UK, entries via Twitter, Facebook, etc. are considered free entries.

In some Australian states you need a permit.  In others you just need to notify them.  In others it depends on what type of raffle method you are using.  This post on Crast Test Mummy gives a good overview..

I'd love to learn about how to open my giveaways up in more places.  If you know anything about giveaway laws in other countries, please leave a comment below and share! 

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