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UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code)

This Code must be followed by all advertisers, agencies and media.

The Code is enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority, who can take steps to remove or have amended any ads that breach these rules. 

Download a full PDF version of the Code here (PDF).

Please remember that the Advertising Codes are kept up to date on a regular basis. If you plan to work from downloaded copies we strongly advise that you sign up to receive our newsletters, to make sure you’re aware of any changes.

You can also use our online version of the Codes, which helpfully links sections to further advice, Help Notes and other relevant sections of the Code.

  Section Description Online version Download
codes Preface Information about the industry committee (CAP) that writes the Code and why they’re committed to high standards in marketing communications. View Online download
codes Scope of the Code What the Code does – and does not – apply to. How the ASA assesses ads, including targeting and audience. View Online download
codes 01 Compliance Rules relating to social responsibility; legality and fair competition. It also spells out that the ASA applies the Code in the spirit, as well as the letter. View Online download
maketing communications 02 Recognition of marketing communications Rules about making sure material is clearly identifiable as marketing communications / advertisements / advertorials. View Online download
misleading advertising 03 Misleading advertising A key and extensive section of the Code, containing rules such as substantiation (evidence to prove claims); pricing; the use of the word ‘free’; availability of products, comparisons, testimonials and more. View Online download
harm and offense 04 Harm and offence Rules to ensure that ads do not cause harm or serious or widespread offence. Includes rules relating to shock tactics, unsafe practices and photosensitive epilepsy. View Online download
children 05 Children Rules that must be followed if directing ads at children or featuring them. Includes rules about unsafe practices and unfair pressure; pester power and sales promotions for children. View Online download
privacy 06 Privacy Rules about depicting members of the public; referring to people with a public profile; implying endorsement and the Royal Family. View Online download
political 07 Political advertisements Clarification of when the Code applies to political advertisements. View Online download
sales promotions 08 Promotional marketing An important section about promotions (e.g. competitions, prize draws, instant wins, front page flashes, charity promotions etc) and incentive schemes. The rules cover the administration of the promotion, as well as the publicity. View Online download
distance selling 09 Distance selling Rules governing marketing communications that allow readers to place orders without face-to-face contact with the seller. Covers cancellation; fulfilment of orders and refunds. View Online download
database 10 Database practice A crucial section for anyone doing direct marketing and collecting or using customer information. Covers consent (opt in and opt out), retention of information and suppression requests. View Online download
environment 11 Environmental claims Rules about making ‘green’ claims for products or services. Rules cover evidence, the clarity of claims and ‘life cycle’ of products. View Online download
medicines 12 Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products A high level of scrutiny is applied to marketing communications for such products or treatments. These rules cover evidence levels (very high levels needed for medicinal claims); suitable qualifications for those claiming to treat; medicines rules; herbal and homeopathic product rules; cosmetics and hair growth / loss. View Online download
weight 13 Weight control and slimming Rules for ads for weight control, slimming foodstuffs and aids, including exercise; diets, clinics and medicines. Rules cover the targeting of ads as well as the content. View Online download
finacial 14 Financial products Rules for financial marketing communications that are not regulated by the FCA or Trading Standards. View Online download
food 15 Food, food supplements and associated health or nutrition claims Rules relating to health and nutrition claims in foodstuffs; claims for vitamins and minerals; infant and follow on formula and food and soft drinks marketing to children. View Online download
gambling 16 Gambling Social responsibility rules for gambling and spread betting. The rules cover content and targeting are designed to protect under 18s and the vulnerable. View Online download
lotteries 17 Lotteries Social responsibility rules that apply to lotteries (including The National Lottery; Gambling Commission licensed lotteries and locally registered lotteries) View Online download
alcohol 18 Alcohol Social responsibility rules for alcoholic drinks. The rules cover content and targeting are designed to protect under 18s and the wider population. View Online download
motoring 19 Motoring Social responsibility rules for motor vehicles, covering safety, speed and irresponsible or anti-social driving behaviours. View Online download
working 20 Employment, homework schemes and business opportunties Rules that require clarity of the nature of employment and business opportunities, including display of earnings and any commitments required from consumers. Section covers employment agencies, homework schemes, business opportunities, vocational training and instruction courses. View Online download
health 21 Tobacco, rolling papers and filters Rules to prevent promotion of smoking via ads for non-tobacco products. View Online download
health 22 Electronic cigarettes Rules that apply to the marketing communications for electronic cigarettes and related products. View Online download
system How the system works A full description of how advertising regulation works and the role of the Advertising Standards Authority, CAP and its funders. Information on the Independent Review procedure (of ASA adjudications.) View Online download
history History of self-regulation Details of how advertising self-regulation developed from the 1880s to today. View Online download
codes Appendix 1 - The CPRs and BPRs This section explains the law on misleading and unfair marketing communications. This law is reflected within the Code and the ASA has regard to the law when considering misleading, aggressive or unfair marketing communications. View Online download
codes Appendix 2 - Advertising rules for on-demand services regulated by statute Rules relevant to advertising carried on video on-demand services regulated by Ofcom. View Online download
codes Appendix 3 - Online behavioural advertising Rules relevant to Online Behavioural Advertising. View Online download

AdviceOnline Database

Bespoke Copy Advice

Need fast, confidential advice on whether your ad campaign complies with the rules?

Advertising Guidance

Check out our Advertising Guidance for formal regulatory guidance on the application of the Advertising Codes.

CAP eLearning

Involved in commissioning, producing or overseeing ads? Learn how to comply with the CAP Code and create responsible ads with our new interactive online training tool.