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Verbal Consent under GDPR

Does the GDPR allow verbal consent? Given the documentation requirements of the law, one might expect the answer to be no. However, it turns out that it is allowed as long as certain conditions are met. This makes sense since so much of business and customer service is conducted over the telephone. It would require a radical change in current practices if a company could not obtain consent to handle your account and process your data over the telephone by a customer service representative.


Oral consent is not explicitly prohibited by the GDPR Articles. Instead, the GDPR simply requires that there be sufficient documentation to demonstrate that consent was given. Recital 32 seals the deal to the question though by stating that an oral statement may be sufficient as a clear affirmative act sufficient for consent.

Additionally, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office indicated that answering yes to a clear oral consent request was sufficient to meet the need for opt-in. If oral consent is needed for various different purposes, the best practice is a separate opt-in for each. Silence or a blanket acceptance of terms and conditions cannot be relied upon in order to establish consent.

Because of the documentation requirement, the data controller will need to document that oral consent was given. The documentation should include a recording (where legally recorded) or other documentation by the recipient including the name of the individual providing consent, the date and time, the information provided before consent was given, and any other information necessary to obtain valid consent (for example, in the case of a child, their parent or guardian’s consent).

For additional information, check out our best practices for consent under GDPR.

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