Ways To Restrict Contest Participants By Their Location

Brian McNeil-Smith
Brian McNeil-Smith
Contests and Sweepstakes are a proven and enjoyable way to build and reward your following whether you are catering to an international, national or local audience. With all the benefits that come with social media sharing, it only makes sense to conduct these campaigns online where exposure can be amplified. In this fashion, people from anywhere in the world can enter your contest if you don’t have the right controls in place. This can lead to embarrassment, headaches and extra costs when it comes time to pick your winners and fulfill your prizes. This article discusses how you can avoid these types pitfalls and how to tighten up your entry requirements.

First we are going to look at contests with entry forms

If you are running a contest with an online entry form, Easypromos provides you the ability to restrict access by country. This option eliminates entries by anyone outside of the country. Lets say a USA based multi-state credit union runs a campaign to all participants residing across all US states. When they arrive at the contest landing page and press on enter, they have full freedom to participate. However, if a person from another country, lets say Canada, once they click on enter they will be shown a screen informing them they are not eligible and cannot participate. Should the contest administrator wish to open the entry form to Mexico, USA and Canada they have that flexibility to do so.

Example of backend setting:


Country restriction message to non-participating country visitors:


We should note, in the original example, a person having travelled to the USA from another country during the active campaign as long as they are using a US connection they will be granted access to the promotion. There is an easy solution whereby the administrator will clearly define in the terms and conditions that the winner must be a US resident with a permanent address. They can define how this proof must be provided ie. address on driver’s license, etc.

What if the Credit Union described above has only 1 branch and wishes to restrict the contest to people within a 50 mile radius of the branch?

In this case it still makes sense to restrict the contest to the United States via the settings we showed above. However this will not stop someone outside the 50 mile radius from entering. Naturally the Credit Union will elect to contain their ads to target people within the radius so that can certainly help but this too doesn’t prevent outsiders from entering.

The fact is you won’t stop everyone outside the region from entering a localized online promotion unless you are handing out entry keys to a customer list, so what you need are an ironclad set of terms and conditions that are not only detailed properly but are visible to the public. Keep reading and we’ll come back to this point.

You can also ask users to enter their country, city or region of residence when filling in the entry form. This way you will be able to recognize invalid entries and eliminate them from the participants list in your Easypromos control panel. Additionally, it can assist in making your participants aware of the conditions of residence to enter the promotion.

Lets Shift Gears And Look At Contests With No Entry Form

Contests without entry forms are completely different by nature and typically live within a post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube or a Blog post where a comment on the post qualifies as an entry. But it can also include contests that request user generated content such as photos, videos or short comments to be hashtagged as the entry requirement. In all cases there is no formal entry form, thus no email is collected and no bounds to location can be enforced. Contest administrators receive a list of social handles from which they will select your winners.

The way to solve the issue of non-local entrants is similar to localized contests with entry form in that you rely on visible detailed terms and conditions that you will call upon at the time of selecting your winners to enforce restrictions. They protect you and keep your audience informed as well as satisfied of your requirements.

It is very important your terms and conditions are accessible and public. For this very important reason Easypromos provides a free terms and conditions creator that comes with a shortened link you add to your contest post. This achieves the following:

  1. Your contest is perceived as legit.
  2. You look professional.
  3. You have taken steps to protect yourself.
  4. You are promoting a good experience among the public.
  5. Should questions arise you have backup and a place to direct focus.


A company wishes to run a giveaway including Canada. Their prize value is $1000. It is their intent to exclude Quebec due to contest prize value filing laws. Regardless of exclusions many Quebec residents enjoy entering contests. (Please note many giveaways do include Quebec with proper filings with the Regis, we are simply using this example that anyone wishing to include Canada must take into consideration.)

  1. They run the contest with no clear terms and conditions, there is no way to physically prevent entries from Quebec residents. A winner is selected, they happen to be from Quebec. Things among others can happen. The Regis wants their filings and payment. You disqualify the winner and deal with the repercussions.
  2. The contest has a clear and visible set of terms and conditions stating Quebec residents are not eligible. A Quebec resident is selected as a winner. The contest admin uses the Easypromos winner selection tool with certificate of validation and removes the Quebec resident from the winner standings. They draw again from the pool of valid entries. The tool visibly documents this change backed up by the terms and conditions.

We hope this article is helpful and we wish you every success in your upcoming campaigns. Feel free to visit our website and ask us questions directly.