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Scope of Immunities & Summary of Law Enforcement Measures - Bilateral Postings

This chart is intended as a guide for law enforcement, border and other authorities who require information to establish the level of immunity granted to foreign representatives. The status of accredited foreign representatives, and hence the level of immunities, is determined by the entry under "designation" and category of Acceptance/Identity Card, not by the colour or the serial letter on such documents.

Law enforcement officers requiring advice on the immunities of accredited foreign representatives should consult:

RCMP Security and Safety Liaison Officer
Diplomatic Corps Services, Office of Protocol
(613) 992-8055

This interpretation chart is not the law; the law is contained in the Acts themselves, such as the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act and related Orders in Council. However, this chart can generally be relied upon as reflecting DFAIT's interpretation of the law to be applied on a consistent basis by its staff.

DesignationDiplomatic Agent*Admin & Tech StaffService StaffCareer Consular OfficerHonorary Consular OfficerConsular Employee
Documentation issued: Category of Acceptance and Identity CardDJJCNoneJ
National Service: Immune from national service obligationsYesYesYesYesNoYes
Legal Process & Criminal/Civil Proceedings: Can be arrested and detainedNo (see note 1)1No (see note 1)YesYes (see notes 1 and 2)2Yes (see note 3)3Yes
Immune from legal process, whether criminal or civilYesYes, subject to limitations under Art. 37(2) of the VCDRYes, in respect of acts performed in the course of official duties onlyYes, in respect of acts performed in the exercise of consular functions onlyYes, in respect of acts performed in the exercise of consular functions onlyYes, in respect of acts performed in the exercise of consular functions only
Can be compelled to give evidence as witnessNoNoYes, unless related to official dutiesNoYes, unless related to consular dutiesYes, unless related to consular duties
Immune from jury dutyYesYesYesYesNoYes
Searches, including at Canadian Airports: Subject to personal search (everywhere except at airports)NoNoYesNoYesYes
Subject to pre-boarding screening at airportsYesYesYesYesYesYes
Subject to office entry and searchNoNoNoNoYes (see note 4)4No
Subject to residential entry and searchNoNoYes, unless part of the diplomatic mission or official residenceYesYesYes
Subject to private motor vehicle searchNoNoYesYesYesYes
Subject to personal baggage searchNo (see note 5)5Yes (see note 6)6Yes (see note 6)No (see note 5)Yes (see note 6)Yes (see note 6)
Immigration: Immune from immigration and aliens restrictions, including at Canadian points of entry (see note 7)7NoNoNoNoNoNo

*Includes Members of the Administrative and Technical Staff of the United States of America, in accordance with the Administrative and Technical Staff of the Embassy of the United States and Families Privileges and Immunities Order.

1 However, a person enjoying personal inviolability such as a diplomatic agent, career consular officer or member of the administrative and technical staff, may be temporarily taken into protective custody in order to prevent the repitition or continuation of an offence, and until such time as a responsible member of the mission or post arrives to relieve the police of this responsibility.

2 Career consular officers cannot be arrested or detained pending trial unless a judicial warrant has been obtained in advance and the charges is for a "grave crime" (one for which the maximum penalty is five years or more), and issues of public safety are involved, in accordance with Art. 41(1) of the VCCR.

3 Honorary consular officers should be treated as ordinary Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents of Canada, except when clearly acting in their consular capacity. The Government of Canada’s view is that most instances of driving, including the journey to and from work, are not considered as “official acts” or “consular acts”. It follows that honorary consular officers will most likely be treated as ordinary Canadian citizens or permanent residents on matters of traffic laws.

4 Consular archives in the custody of honorary consular officers must not be searched, provided that they are kept separate from all other office records and clearly marked as consular documents.

5 Canada expects diplomatic agents and career consular officers to comply with normal security measures instituted at Canadian airports. This includes submitting their carry-on luggage through x-ray.

6 The search of baggages of any person associated with a diplomatic mission or consular post must take into account that the person may be carrying "archives", i.e. files or correspondence, and these documents must not be manually searched. If a person claims to be carrying "archives", these must be excluded from manual search. With respect to diplomatic bags, please consult the following link Circular Note NO. XDC-0144 of January 28, 2011.

7 Accredited foreign representatives are however exempt from work permits.

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Date Modified:
2012-10-22