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Policy on the Designation of Home-based Staff and on the Terminology Relating to Diplomatic and Consular Premises

Circular Note No. XDC-1760 of October 30, 1997

Most recent date of change: April 28, 2011

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade presents its compliments to the Heads of Diplomatic Missions accredited to Canada and has the honour to refer to Government of Canada's policy on the designations for the staff and the terminology for the identification of the premises of diplomatic missions and consular posts. This document replaces circular document XDC-2548 of 21 June 1990.

  1. Designations for Diplomatic Agents
  2. Designations for Consular Officers
  3. Designations for Support Staff
  4. Terminology for the identification of the premises of the Diplomatic Missions or Consular Posts 

1. Designations for Diplomatic Agents

In accordance with Article 1(e) of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, a diplomatic agent is the head of the mission or a member of the diplomatic staff in the mission. 

Canada requires that diplomatic agents be in possession of a diplomatic passport. Otherwise they will be recognized as members of the support staff (see Designations for Support Staff).

The common designations under international practice and which the Canadian Government accepts are:

 In addition to the above, the Canadian Government also recognizes the following titles: 

  • Deputy High Commissioner (for High Commissions)
  • Deputy Head of Mission (for Embassies)
  • First Counsellor
  • Second Counsellor
  • Third Counsellor
  • Assistant Attaché 

There may also be other designations and these will be examined on a case by case basis.

Finally, there are members of the mission who are considered as Military Attachés and their designations are quite varied. The most common designations accepted by the Canadian Government are: Air Attaché, Army Attaché, Naval Attaché, Defence Attaché, Military Attaché, Air Advisor, Army Advisor, Naval Advisor, Defence Advisor and Military Advisor. There are also cases where a person may represent more than one branch of the armed forces and will therefore have a multiple designation such as "Air, Naval and Military Attaché".

A second category of military personnel are the assistants and these would utilize the same approved designations as the primary officer but preceded by "Assistant".

Examples: Assistant Air Attaché; Assistant Naval and Army Attaché.

N.B.: Attachés and Assistant Attachés representing the military require approval by the Canadian government before arriving in Canada.

2. Designations for Consular Officers

Consular Officers

In accordance with Article 1(1)(d) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, a consular officer refers to any person, including the head of a consular post, entrusted in that capacity with the exercise of consular functions.

Keeping in mind Article 9 of the VCCR, the Canadian Government recognizes the following designations for  consular officers:

  • Consul General
  • Deputy Consul General or Vice Consul General
  • Consul
  • Vice-Consul or Deputy Consul
  • Consular Agent     

There are also certain designations which are accepted but only if they are preceded by one of the designations mentioned above. These are:

  • Senior Trade Commissioner
  • Trade Commissioner
  • Deputy Trade Commissioner
  • Assistant Trade Commissioner 

Examples: Consul & Trade Commissioner; Vice-Consul & Assistant Trade Commissioner.

N.B.: There may also be other designations and these will be examined on a case by case basis. However, the Canadian government will not accept any designations pertaining to consular officers, assigned to a consular post, which have a connotation of diplomatic rank.

Example: Consular Attaché

3. Designations for Support Staff 

3.1 Members of the Administrative & Technical Staff are the members of the staff of the mission employed in the administrative and technical service of the mission. They are required to minimally hold an official, special or service passport.

3.2 Consular employee means any person employed in the administrative or technical service of a consular post. They too are required to minimally hold an official, special or service passport.

3.3 Members of the Service Staff are the members of the staff of the mission or the consular post in the domestic service of the mission or the consular post. Members of the Service Staff must meet all the following criteria otherwise they will be considered as private servants: 

  • be a citizen of the country represented by the mission or consular post in which he/she works;
  • be paid by the government for which he/she works, not the mission;
  • be in possession of a special, official or service passport of the country for which he/she works. 

Normally, Members of the Service Staff  include the following categories: 

  • Guards
  • Messengers 
  • Caretakers (incl. cleaners, janitors etc.)
  • Household personnel (incl. butlers, chefs, maids etc.) 

3.4 Private Servants are persons in the domestic service of a member of the mission or consular post.

3.5 Locally-Engaged Staff are those hired locally by the diplomatic mission or consular post. These persons are normally either Canadian citizens or landed-immigrants however the diplomatic mission or consular post may request permission to hire their own citizens who are in Canada as visitors. The persons in the last category must have come to Canada for reasons other then employment at the diplomatic mission or consular post. The missions/consular posts will be refused permission to employ those visitors who came to Canada specifically for such employment.     

4. Terminology for the identification of the premises of the Diplomatic Missions or consular Posts 

4.1 Diplomatic Missions 

Diplomatic missions must be located in the Ottawa-Carleton Region. Diplomatic missions are recognized as Embassies or High Commissions.

Offices/sections of the Embassies or High Commissions may not be located in areas outside of the Ottawa-Carleton Region.

Embassies and High Commissions require prior Departmental approval to purchase or lease a premise for a mission in the Ottawa-Carleton Region, and to open a section/office in a location other than in the premises of the mission. These offices/sections may not be identified as separate entities but rather as part of the Embassy or High Commission. 

Examples:

  • Not Acceptable: Defence Liaison Office
  • Acceptable: Embassy of (Defence Liaison Office);

Moreover, all relevant signs, stationery, directories (incl. telephone listings), business cards etc must identify the office/section as indicated above. 

4.2 Consular Posts 

Consular posts are normally located in cities outside the Ottawa-Carleton Region. Consular posts, headed by career or honorary consular officers, may be located in the Ottawa-Carleton Region only if there is no diplomatic mission present. Should such a consular post exist and a diplomatic mission be opened subsequently, the consular post must close. However, diplomatic missions may have consular sections.

Consular posts require prior Departmental approval to purchase or lease a premise for a consular post, and to open an office/section of the consular post in a location other than in the premises of the consular post. These offices/sections may not be identified as separate entities but rather as part of the consular post. 

Examples:

  • Not Acceptable: Tourism & Trade Office
  • Acceptable: Consulate of (Tourism & Trade Office) 

Moreover, all relevant signs, stationery, directories (incl. telephone listings), business cards etc must identify the office/section as indicated above.

OTTAWA 30 October 1997

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Date Modified:
2012-10-09