Foreign states wishing to establish diplomatic or consular premises in Canada must obtain written approval from the Government of Canada. This section contains information on the requirements and procedures involved in opening an embassy, high commission or consular post.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT), which conducts Canada’s diplomatic and consular relations and is responsible for official communication between the Government of Canada and the government of any other country, delegates to the Office of Protocol responsibility for processing, first of all, requests from foreign states to open diplomatic or consular premises.
A foreign state wishing to open a new diplomatic mission or consular post must send a request to the Office of Protocol by way of Note.
In the case of an embassy or high commission, the request may be issued by the Foreign Affairs ministry of the sending state, from its Permanent Mission to the United Nations, or from its embassy in Washington, D.C.
In the case of a consular post headed by a career consular officer, the request must in principle be issued by the diplomatic mission accredited to Canada and must contain the following information:
The Office of Protocol will relay the Canadian government’s decision by way of Note, normally within four to six weeks.
Once a foreign state has received permission to open a diplomatic mission or consular post and has identified its location, that is, the real property to be used as its premises, that state must obtain written approval to purchase the property.
This topic is examined in detail in section 3 of the Guidelines on Property: Acquisition, Disposition and Development of Real Property in Canada by a Foreign State.
In international law, establishing a diplomatic mission, like establishing diplomatic relations themselves, “takes place by mutual consent,” in accordance with Article 2 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
In the case of consular posts, Article 4 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations states the following:
The Canadian government has no obligations in terms of protection and security or taxation matters as regards a diplomatic mission or consular post that has not been established in accordance with Article 2 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, or Article 4 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, as the case may be.
Before a move—even a temporary one—to new diplomatic or consular premises, approval must be obtained from the Government of Canada. In the event that a foreign state establishes or relocates a diplomatic mission or consular post without written approval from Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, such premises are not considered inviolable.
Canada does not grant special status or immunity to trade, cultural, tourism or information offices of foreign governments, or to members of their staff. However, a foreign state may request approval to open a trade, cultural, tourism or information section of an existing diplomatic mission or consular post, provided that such a section is established at the same location as the diplomatic mission or consular post. Other conditions may apply.
To view the list of diplomatic missions and consular posts accredited to Canada, see the publication entitled Diplomatic, Consular and other Representatives in Canada posted on the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada website under the heading Office of Protocol.
The Office of Protocol’s Privileges and Immunities Unit answers your questions regarding the opening and moving of diplomatic missions and consular posts. Services are normally available between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. You can also send an email and will usually receive a reply within 48 hours.
Telephone: 613-944-1159 | 613-944-0096
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org