Locally-engaged staff working in foreign bilateral missions in Canada: What missions must know and do

Circular Note No. XDC-0605 of September 11, 2013

Last update: October 2018

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 update its policy and procedures concerning persons employed locally by diplomatic missions and consular posts who are not Canadians or Permanent Residents.

This note supersedes Circular Note XDC-0024 of January 16, 2007.

1. Policy statement

It is generally expected that locally-engaged staff of diplomatic missions or consular posts will be Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents of Canada. However, it is the policy of the Department to permit diplomatic missions and consular posts to employ, as members of the locally-engaged staff, nationals of the sending State who are in Canada temporarily. Temporary Residents must have come to Canada for a purpose other than employment at the mission. The above may be applied restrictively on the basis of reciprocity, for instance if the prevailing conditions of the Canadian Mission with respect to the employment of locally-engaged staff in the other country are less favourable.

Further, nothing in this note should be construed as allowing temporary residents from a third country to be hired as locally-engaged staff.

Finally, the Department expects that all employer/employee relationships entered into between a Mission and its locally-engaged employees should be entered into under applicable Canadian Federal and Provincial labour laws and comply with related standards. The Department is not in a position to provide information or guidance on Canadian legal frameworks related to the above subject matter. The Embassy may wish to retain a professional firm or legal counsel to conduct this research or to otherwise obtain information through publicly-available resources.

2. Procedure

As locally-engaged staff are not granted official status by the Department, their entry into, and continued presence in, Canada fall under Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) jurisdiction. In this regard, s.199 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulation states that a “foreign national may apply for a work permit after entering Canada if they…hold a written statement from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade stating that it has no objection to the foreign national working at a foreign mission in Canada.”

Therefore, Diplomatic Missions desiring to employ a national of the sending State must request the Department’s prior permission by submitting a note along with the applicant’s passport. The note must specify whether the sending State would allow the Canadian Mission in that country to employ a Canadian in similar circumstances. Once the request has been approved, a process which takes between ten (10) to fifteen (15) days, a note will be issued to the Mission, following which he/she will, as a Temporary Resident in Canada, be required to apply for a work permit.

Extension of temporary resident status as a worker will have to be sought through CIC prior to the expiration of the existing temporary resident status. All requirements in regard to such extension will have to be met by the applicant. As this matter is again within the jurisdiction of CIC, the Department can give no assurance that an extension of status will be granted and under what conditions or restrictions.

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3. Tax obligations

The Department has not instituted a policy requiring foreign missions to make tax deductions on the salary of their locally-engaged staff and corresponding remittances to the fiscal authorities. In spite of this, the Department understands that a number of foreign missions based in Canada have voluntarily entered into arrangements with Revenue Canada for deductions and remittances, such as those related to the Income Tax Act, the Employment Insurance Act and the Canada Pension Plan Act. This is one of the best ways of ensuring that the employment of locally-engaged staff is not only pensionable under the Canada Pension Plan, but also insurable under the various Employment Insurance benefit programs, including those related to maternity leave, cessation of work, illness, etc.

For more information on the Canada Pension Plan and the Employment Insurance Act, see section 4.

The Department, more generally, wishes to clarify that all locally-engaged staff are in no way exempted from their obligations to observe Canadian laws and regulations, including those obligations concerning salary taxation. The payment of such taxes is ultimately between the employees and the relevant governments. Although the Embassy bears no responsibility for ensuring that these obligations are met, locally-engaged staff should be reminded of the expectation that they meet all their responsibilities as required by Canadian laws.

4. Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance Act

Generally, with respect to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and the Employment Insurance Act (EIA), the employment of an employee working in Canada for a government other than Canada is not pensionable or insurable. However, for Embassies who wish to request coverage under the CPP and the EIA for their locally engaged employees, both legislations have regulations that may permit coverage under certain conditions.

It is important to note that foreign states that voluntarily participate in payroll deduction plans or schemes for locally-engaged staff should undertake to voluntarily comply with the provisions of those plans or schemes. This would be done without prejudice to the privileges and immunities in effect or to the inviolability of diplomatic and consular archives.

In order to cover locally-engaged employees under the CPP and EIA, the following steps must be taken:

Canada Pension Plan

Under the CPP, the foreign government needs to enter into an Agreement with the Minister of National Revenue or with the Department of Employment and Social Development Canada.

If a foreign government wishes to conclude an agreement with the Minister of National Revenue, in order to include the employment in Canada of their employees under the CPP, they must submit a request in writing to:

Canada Revenue Agency (Headquarters)
CPP/EI Rulings Division
320 Queen Street, Tower A
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0L5

If a foreign government wishes to conclude an agreement with the Department of Employment and Social Development Canada, they will have to contact that Department directly for further instructions.

Employment Insurance Act

Under the EIA, the foreign government needs to obtain consent in order to insure the employment of their employees in Canada.

To obtain consent, the foreign government must submit a request in writing, stating that they agree to cover their employees working in Canada under the Employment Insurance Act to:

Manager, EI Operational Policy
EI Benefits Processing Directorate
Transformation and Integrated Service Management Branch
Service Canada
140 Promenade du Portage
Phase IV Mail Stop 233
Gatineau, QC, K1A 0J9

Further questions on these two program areas can be referred to the Canada Revenue Agency’s Technical Policy Advisor at 613-670-7397.

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. the assurances of its highest consideration.

Ottawa, September 11, 2013