The agrément process and other formalities relating to bilateral heads of mission
Last revision: March 1, 2017
Circular Note No. XDC-0394-4 of February 24, 2015
The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (Office of Protocol) presents its compliments to Their Excellencies the Heads of Diplomatic Missions and notified Chargés d’affaires, a.i. accredited to Canada and has the honour to clarify certain matters regarding the process of requesting agrément and other formalities relating to the first arrival and final departure of bilateral Heads of Mission.
Request for agrément
Requests for agrément should be made in the form of a note addressed to the “Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development” and hand-delivered to the Chief of Protocol of Canada by the current Head of Mission or Chargé d'affaires, a.i. In order to protect the confidentiality of the candidacies and the integrity of the process, requests are to be officially made in Ottawa and not at Canadian missions abroad.
Non-resident Heads of Mission or Chargés d’affaires a.i. are required to hand-deliver the request to the Head of Mission, or the Deputy, at either the Canadian diplomatic mission in Washington or in New York. In exceptional cases, where such a visit would prove impossible for a non-resident Head of Mission or Chargé d’affaires a.i. because his/her government would not have a diplomatic mission neither in Washington nor in New York, the note may be delivered by international courier services directly to the Office of Protocol. Please note that the Head of Mission candidate cannot present the note requesting his or her own agrément.
The request for agrément must be provided in one of Canada’s two official languages and must be accompanied by a detailed curriculum vitae (CV) of the proposed candidate including the following:
- Full name and surnames of the nominee
- Date of birth of the nominee as well as his/her place of birth (locality/city and country)
- A recent colour photo
- A copy of the business card (to attach) and/or full address and phone numbers
- A comprehensive chronological listing of all professional occupations (including previous assignments) and related promotions and awards with start and end dates
- Information on education and qualifications
- Information on military service, achievements, medals and awards
- Information on sports practiced and artistic, scientific or cultural hobbies
- A statement according to which the nominee is not a Canadian citizen or Permanent resident of Canada
- Marital status and the full name and surnames of his/her spouse and children (accompanying or not)
- A copy of the main page of the nominee’s passport containing his/her legal name (to attach)
The proposed Head of Mission’s name as appearing in the request and the CV should be exactly as it appears on the passport copy provided. If complete, the processing time for a request is generally 12 weeks from the date it is received. A complete request with a detailed CV will facilitate the process, accelerate visas issuances when agrément is granted, and assist with preparation for the ceremony of presentation of credentials of a Head of Mission-designate.
In order to make the necessary arrangements for the first arrival of a Head of Mission-designate, the Embassy or High Commission must relay, by diplomatic note, to the Office of Protocol, at least 1 week in advance, the information required to request Airport Courtesies, as part of the requirements relating to Airport Courtesies.
The Office of Protocol will advise the appropriate airport authorities and reserve the Canada Reception Centre at all relevant airports for the first arrival of a Head of Mission-designate. On arrival at the Ottawa International Airport, the Head of Mission-designate will be escorted to the Canada Reception Centre. An official from the Office of Protocol of Canada will be present to extend welcoming courtesies and escort the new Head of Mission-designate, if the arrival is scheduled between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. weekdays, excluding public holidays.
The Office of Protocol does not make arrangements for spouses and/or other members of the Head of Mission-designate’s immediate family unless they are travelling with him/her. The Embassy or High Commission is responsible for providing transportation for the Head of Mission-designate and his/her family from the airport to the official residence or hotel.
Courtesy calls (federal level)
Missions are invited to contact the Office of the Chief of Protocol of Canada at 343-203-3006 shortly after the arrival of the Head of Mission-designate, to arrange for a courtesy call. On this occasion, Heads of Mission-designate (with the exception of those who recognize Her Majesty the Queen as their Head of State) are required to present certified true copies of their Letters of Credence and Recall which should be addressed to:
His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston,
Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada
(please provide translated copies of those which are not in English or French).
At this meeting, the Chief of Protocol will give an overview of the functioning of the Canadian Government and of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development. The Chief of Protocol will also briefly explain the scenario for the presentation ceremony to the Governor General or, for High Commissioners who recognize Her Majesty the Queen as their Head of State, the meeting with the Prime Minister at which their Letter of Introduction is presented.
Upon arrival and before presentation of credentials, Heads of Mission-designate cannot meet with elected officials: however, they may arrange visits directly with unelected officials such as: the Assistant Deputy Minister and Director General responsible for the Head of Mission-designate’s geographic region, and other officials with responsibilities for the Head of Mission-designate’s geographic region, as well as other members of the Diplomatic Corps, including the Dean. Heads of Mission-designate shall refrain from using the titles of “Ambassador” or “High Commissioner” until official recognition is granted upon presentation of credentials; the Chargé remains Head of Mission until that time. Only High Commissioners of the 15 Commonwealth Realms can exercise their full functions right upon arrival in Canada.
Following presentation of credentials, Heads of Mission may arrange visits directly with elected officials, appear at, or convene public events and give media interviews. It is not customary for Heads of Mission to pay courtesy calls on the following: the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of International Trade and the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie. However, should Heads of Mission wish to raise a matter of substance with any of the above, they should request an appointment through the responsible geographic bureau.
For the above visits, it is not customary for the Head of Mission to be accompanied by his/her spouse.
Courtesy calls (provincial level)
Visits by Heads of Mission with provincial authorities should be organized directly with the provincial Offices of Protocol. There is no requirement to seek the permission of the Office of Protocol in the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade but a notice of advice to the Office of Protocol of Canada that a visit to a province will take place is welcomed to allow the Office to effectively plan and coordinate its activities with the provinces, including with respect to outreach activities.
Presentation of credentials/Letter of introduction
As soon as the date of arrival of the new Head of Mission has been confirmed, the Office of Protocol will seek a date for the presentation of the Letters of Credence and Recall to the Governor General of Canada. For High Commissioners who recognize Her Majesty the Queen as their Head of State, a date will be sought for the presentation of their Letter of Introduction to the Prime Minister of Canada.
Upon confirmation of a date for the presentation of the Letters of Credence and Recall or Letter of Introduction, the Office of Protocol will notify the Embassy or High Commission and provide further instructions on the preparation and scenario for the ceremony.
It is customary for the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development to give a farewell luncheon for a departing resident Head of Mission and to make the necessary arrangements with the airport authorities. The Embassy or High Commission should notify the Office of Protocol by note at least 6 to 8 weeks before the anticipated date of departure in order to make arrangements for the farewell luncheon and at least 1 week prior to departure to make airport arrangements. The latter should include the:
- date, time, place, flight number(s);
- names and passport information (number, date of issuance, date of expiry, date of birth, nationality) of the Head of Mission and accompanying dependents;
- a guest list, if applicable, including names and titles of those who will be in attendance at the Canada Reception Centre for the departure.
The Office of Protocol will advise the appropriate airport authorities and reserve the Canada Reception Centre at the relevant airports for all final departures of Heads of Missions. A Protocol Officer will be at the Ottawa International Airport for departures on weekdays between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., excluding public holidays.
The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (Office of Protocol) avails itself of this opportunity to renew to Their Excellencies the Heads of Diplomatic Missions and notified Chargés d’affaires, a.i. accredited to Canada, the assurances of its highest consideration.
OTTAWA, February 24, 2015
- Date Modified: