The Agrément Process and Other Formalities Relating to Bilateral Heads of Mission

Circular Note No. XDC-0394-2 of February 28, 2014

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

The Department would like to remind that requests for agrément should normally 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.

Only non-resident Heads of Mission or Chargés d’affaires a.i. are instructed to hand deliver the request to the Head of Mission, or the Deputy, at the nearest Canadian diplomatic mission, ie: Washington or New York. Where such a visit would prove impossible for a non-resident Head of Mission or Chargé d’affaires a.i. because a Canadian diplomatic mission is not located in his/her territory, the note may be delivered 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 must be accompanied by a curriculum vitae (CV) of the proposed candidate and both must be provided in one of Canada’s two official languages. The proposed candidate’s name should be exactly as it appears on his/her passport and the CV must specify the candidate’s birthday as well as his/her place of birth. The processing time for the request is generally 9-11 weeks from the date the request is received in the Office of Protocol.

First Arrival

In order to make the necessary arrangements for the first arrival of a Head of Mission-designate, the Embassy or High Commission must advise, by diplomatic note, the Office of Protocol, at least 1 week in advance, of the following arrival details:

  • date, time, place, flight number(s);
  • names and passport information (number, date of issuance, date of expiry, date of birth, nationality, visa number, if applicable) of the Head of Mission and accompanying dependants;
  • a guest list, if applicable, including names and titles of those who will be in attendance at the V.I.P. Lounge for the first arrival; and,
  • provide a recent photo of the Head of Mission-designate.

The Office of Protocol will advise the appropriate airport authorities and reserve the V.I.P. lounge 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 welcomed by an official from the Office of Protocol and escorted to the V.I.P. lounge if the arrival is scheduled between 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 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)

Shortly after the arrival of the Head of Mission-designate, the Office of Protocol will arrange, in consultation with the Embassy or High Commission, for a courtesy call on the Chief of Protocol of Canada. 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 and International Trade Canada. 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, the President of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) 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 of “High Commissioner”.

Following presentation of credentials, Heads of Mission may arrange visits directly with elected officials. It is not customary for Heads of Mission to pay courtesy calls on the following: the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister for International Trade. 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.

To know more about courtesy calls on the Speakers of the Senate and of the House of Commons, please click here, Circ Note XDC-2109.

For the above visits, it is not customary for the Head of Mission to be accompanied by his/her spouse or by an official from the Office of Protocol.

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 advise or seek the permission of the Office of Protocol in the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

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. 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. Only High Commissioners of the Realm can exercise their full functions upon arrival in 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.

Final Departure

It is customary for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada 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 1 month 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 dependants;
  • a guest list, if applicable, including names and titles of those who will be in attendance at the V.I.P. Lounge for the departure.

The Office of Protocol will advise the appropriate airport authorities and reserve the V.I.P. lounge 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 11:00 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 28, 2014