The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (Office of Protocol) presents its compliments to Their Excellencies the Heads of Diplomatic Missions and Chargés d’Affaires, a.i. accredited to Canada and has the honour to notify a change to the documentation issued to honorary consular officers.
Effective May 30, 2010, honorary consular officers will no longer be issued White Identity Cards, although the Department will continue to list their names in the monthly “Diplomatic, Consular and Other Representatives in Canada” publication and related Internet links. The Department will also relay these names and other relevant information, such as the consular district, to provincial protocol offices and other competent authorities to enable honorary consular officers to carry out their consular duties.
Honorary consular officers who currently hold an Identity Card are not required to surrender it until it expires.
Related policies such as the Department’s Guidelines on the Appointment of Honorary Consular Officers and the Guidelines on the Issuance of Licence Plates will soon be amended to reflect the change outlined in this Note. Questions regarding this notice should be directed to the Accreditation Unit of the Office of Protocol at 613-944-0096.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (Office of Protocol) avails itself of this opportunity to renew to Their Excellencies the Heads of Diplomatic Missions and Chargés d’affaires, a.i. accredited to Canada the assurances of its highest consideration.
Ottawa, May 4, 2010
This section offers answers to frequently asked questions about the above Circular Note.
Q1. How do I prove to federal, provincial, local and public authorities that I am an honorary consular officer?
The Department issues a Note of Definitive Recognition (exequatur) to each honorary consular officer in order that he/she can carry out his consular duties. The provincial protocol offices within the consular district of the honorary consular officer are also notified of the appointment.
In addition, the Department publishes the names of all honorary consular officers on the “Foreign Representatives in Canada” webpage and in the monthly “Diplomatic, Consular and Other Representatives in Canada” publication.
DFAIT has no objection if honorary consular officers hold business cards identifying themselves in that capacity. This is convenient when interacting with clients, as well as with public and private sector officials.
There are also well-established frameworks of collaboration between police forces across the country and both the RCMP and DFAIT to validate the status of honorary consular officers when needed.
Q2. Does Canada have a legal obligation to issue an Identity Card to honorary consular officers?
Under Article 10(2) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR), “the formalities for the appointment and for the admission of the head of a consular post are determined by the laws, regulations and usages of the sending State and of the receiving State respectively.” The issuance of an Identity Card is not required under the VCCR.
Given that the formalities for the appointment and for the admission of honorary consular officers are not clearly delineated under international law, this allows for a large measure of difference in how they are implemented in different countries.
Q3. Would an Identity Card issued to me honorary consular officers not improve my ability to re-enter Canadian land or air points of entry?
The Identity Card, when issued, was never intended as a travel document conferring the legal right to leave or enter Canada.
Honorary consular officers who currently have an Identity Card valid until 2011, 2012 or 2013 must not present it at ports of entry.
Q4. Hotels will only secure tax exemptions if I present an Identity Card showing that I am an honorary consular officer. How can I practically obtain such exemption without an Identity Card?
Under generally accepted principles of international law and practice, honorary consular officers do not enjoy any exemption from customs duties and consumer taxes.
Q5. Airports will only allow access to special parking facilities if I present an Identity Card showing that I am an honorary consular officer. How can I practically obtain such benefit without an Identity Card?
DFAIT, where necessary, provides the list of honorary consular officers directly to airport security authorities that grant special parking facilities to such persons.
Q6. Don't I need a DFAIT-issued Identity Card in order to obtain special licence plates?
Honorary consular officers are not precluded from receiving provincially-issued special licence plates in the absence of an Identity Card. In order to obtain more information on the requirements for special licence plates, a courtesy extended by certain provinces, please consult the relevant provincial protocol office.
Also, the Government of Canada holds the view that most instances of driving and operation of a motor vehicle by honorary consular officers, including the journey to and from work, are not considered as “official acts” or “consular acts”. In keeping with this, honorary consular officers will generally be treated as ordinary Canadian citizens or permanent residents on matters of traffic laws.