Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.


The CAP Code does not apply to marketing communications in foreign media and this exclusion relates to the country of origin of the media, rather than the marketer. A leaflet for a company that was headquartered outside of the UK but had been prepared and distributed by their approved UK agent and handed out to UK consumers at an exhibition held in the UK was considered to fall within the remit of the Code (Radiant Life Technologies, 16 February 2011).

Ads that appear in publications that, although available in the UK as imports and may feature ads from UK based companies, are actually published for an audience in another country, for example The New York Times, Le Monde or the US edition of Cosmopolitan would fall outside of the Scope of the Code.

Marketing communications that appear in ‘in-flight’ magazines on international flights (provided the magazine is intended to remain on the plane) and any ads appearing between the runway and passport control at an airport, would also fall within this exemption because in both cases the ‘media’ isn’t, technically-speaking, in the UK. Ads that appear in ‘in-flight’ magazines on domestic UK flights do fall within the scope of the Code.

Direct marketing communications that are sent to UK consumers but which originate outside of the UK are subject to the jurisdiction of the relevant authority in the country from which they originate. If that country has a relevant authority that is a member of the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA) the ASA will, in most cases, refer the matter directly to their counterpart in that country. If there isn’t a relevant authority to refer to, the ASA will take what action it can.

The same is true for sales promotions and marketing communications on websites that do not have a ".co.uk" address and are not operated by a UK based company but which seem to specifically target UK consumers, for example, by giving prices in Pounds Sterling or inviting consumers to contact a UK telephone number or address. Marketing communications on ".co.uk" websites are considered to be in ‘UK media’ in any event, as are marketing communications on websites operated by UK based companies regardless of the top-level domain (Zeetech Services Ltd, 19 March 2014).

More information on Cross Border Complaints can be found on the ASA’s website.

Updated 28 September 2016


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