Privacy Policy: Safeguarding the Personal Information of Members of the Diplomatic Community

Circular Note No. XDC-0406 of April 2, 2004

Most recent date of change: April 15, 2015

The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development presents its compliments to Their Excellencies the Heads of Diplomatic Missions and notified Charges d’Affaires, a.i. accredited to Canada, as well as to the Heads of international organizations and other offices established in Canada, and has the honour to clarify the purpose for which personal information relating to identifiable foreign representatives and their family members is obtained by the Office of Protocol of the Government of Canada. This is part of ongoing efforts to enhance existing privacy practices.

1. Policy Statement

In light of its mandate and operating programs, the Department’s Office of Protocol collects informationFootnote 1 in confidence from diplomatic missions, international organizations and other offices relating to foreign representatives and their eligible family members.Footnote 2 This information constitutes personal information according to the federal Privacy Act.Footnote 3

The Office of Protocol takes all practicable measures to ensure the protection and responsible use of personal information collected in the course of its activities and services, and is committed to validly collecting and using such information. Nonetheless, the Office is required under the Privacy Act to give proper notice of the purpose of collection.

2. Federal Privacy Legislation: Rights and Obligations of the Office of Protocol

In accordance with the Privacy Act, personal information obtained in confidence from a Diplomatic Mission, international organization or other office is collected by the Office of Protocol in compliance with, and for the purposes of, international and domestic lawFootnote 4 and customs governing international relations. More specifically, it is collected for the purpose of facilitating the presence in Canada of foreign representatives and their eligible family members and to enable the Government of Canada to discharge its responsibilities in relation to their protection, as well as for administrating privileges, immunities and the issuance of documents related to accreditation.

Privacy interests include the reasonable expectation that the use and disclosure of personal information will remain restricted to the purposes for which it was obtained or for uses that are consistent with that purpose. In carrying out its above mandate, the Department may disclose personal information to law enforcement agencies, federal investigative bodies, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), other designated federal departments and agencies, as well as some provincial authorities for (1) protection services; (2) the purpose of conducting security checks and assessments; (3) the administration of various privileges and immunities programs, including customs and tax privileges; and (4) compiling statistics for use in the preparation of reports to the Minister and senior departmental officials and to assist in the preparation of quarterly and annual reports.

Some information, such as the names and titles of certain foreign representatives, may be used for on-line services and for the purpose of updating the “Diplomatic, Consular and Other Representatives in Canada” Internet publication and complementary search tools.

In addition, the Department may use and disclose personal information for the following consistent purposes: (1) the enforcement of Canadian laws or carrying out lawful investigations; and (2) the application of immigration and citizenship legislation and regulations.

Under the Privacy Act, foreign representatives and their accredited family members have the right to access their personal information and request changes if the information is incorrect. They also have the right to complain to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Instructions on how to exercise these rights are outlined in Info Source publications.

3. Useful Link

Additional information regarding the collection of personal information relating to foreign representatives and their accredited family members is described in the Department’s Personal Information Bank DFAIT PPU 907 entitled "Members of the Diplomatic Corps in Canada". See Info Source.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade avails itself of this opportunity to renew to Their Excellencies the Heads of Diplomatic Missions and notified Charges d’Affaires, a.i. accredited to Canada, as well as to the Heads of international organizations and other offices established in Canada the assurances of its highest consideration.


Footnote 1

Generally, personal information appears on the EXT-231 Registration Card, passport, diplomatic correspondence or other correspondence, curriculum vitae driver’s licence and contract if applicable (i.e. private servants, officials and senior officials with international organizations).

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Footnote 2

More precisely, this refers to foreign nationals, Canadians or permanent residents and their eligible family members presented or appointed by a foreign state or an accredited international organization or an other office; persons for whom accreditation has ceased, been refused or subject to modification; and individuals who were previously entitled to diplomatic or official status but who have modified their conditions of stay in Canada under its immigration legislation.

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Footnote 3

Privacy Act can be accessed through the main website of Justice Canada at Department of Justice under the sub-heading “Statutes by Title”.

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Footnote 4

Includes obligations stemming from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act, the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act, the Vienna Conventions and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Internationally Protected Persons.

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