GST Treatment of Diplomatic Organizations and Officials

GST/HST Technical Information Bulletin B-050R
June 26, 1995 (Revised August 8, 1995)
[Notice of Change : Modified text is sidebarred]

This bulletin does not replace the law found in the Excise Tax Act and its Regulations. It is provided for your reference. As it may not completely address your particular operation, you may wish to refer to the Act or appropriate Regulation, or contact any Revenue Canada Tax Services office for additional information. If you are located in the province of Québec, please contact the ministère du Revenue du Québec (MRQ) for additional information.


This bulletin summarizes the treatment under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) of diplomatic missions, consular posts and international organizations as well as certain diplomatic and consular personnel and officials of international organizations. In particular, it outlines methods of relief from GST as well as the GST implication of making taxable supplies.

NOTE: This bulletin supersedes Technical Information Bulletin B-050, GST Relief to Diplomatic Organizations and Officials, issued in March 1991. Due to the number of revisions, the changes have not been sidebarred.


According to the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act, the following organizations are provided relief from GST on domestic purchases for official use:

  • diplomatic missions according to reciprocity,

  • consular posts according to reciprocity; and

  • international organizations.

Reciprocity refers to an agreement between Canada and a foreign country, the objective being comparable tax relief treatment for Canadian diplomatic organizations and officials posted in foreign countries. International organizations are not subject to reciprocity.

Importations for official use by the above organizations are relieved from GST at their point of entry into Canada.

The following persons are provided relief from GST on domestic purchases of nearly all goods and services for personal use:

(a) diplomatic agents and their dependants, and members of the administrative and technical staff and their dependants, of diplomatic missions according to reciprocity;

(b) career consular officers and their dependants, and consular employees and their dependants, of consular posts according to reciprocity; and

(c) officials of international organizations and their dependants according to Order-in-Council or other legislative provisions.

The one exception is that relief from GST does not apply to purchases of real property acquired for personal use. However, a GST new housing rebate may be available in this instance subject to the normal rules.

Relief from GST on purchases for personal use is not available to honourary consular officers, service staff, private servants, or Canadian nationals employed by a diplomatic mission, consular post or international organization.

Importations are relieved from GST at the point of entry into Canada for those persons described in (a), (b), and (c) with one condition. Administrative and technical staff described in (a) are only eligible for relief from GST at the time of arrival (up to six months), unless an Order-in-Council indicates otherwise.


Relief from GST may not be obtained by the presentation of a foreign representative's identification card to the supplier. These foreign representatives, whether they make purchases on their own behalf or on behalf of their organization, will be treated like any other customers. Suppliers will charge the GST on taxable goods and services. Those eligible for relief according to reciprocity will be able to recover the GST paid on their purchases by claiming a rebate.

The GST rebate may be claimed by completing and sending in form GST 189E, General Application for Rebate of Goods and Services Tax, available from any Revenue Canada Tax Services office. The publication, General Rebate Guide and Application Form, provides details for diplomats on how to complete this form and may also be obtained from any tax services office. To claim the GST rebate in Quebec, form FP-189-V, General Rebate Application, must be completed. This form as well as more detailed information may be obtained from any MRQ office.

The rebate application will require the following information:

(a) for foreign representatives and officials, an acceptance number issued by the Foreign Affairs Office of Protocol as proof of identity;

(b) a code to identify the reason for requesting a rebate:

  • reason code 2 covers foreign representatives and officials; and

  • reason code 3 covers diplomatic missions, consular posts and international organizations; and

(c) details of purchases claimed for a rebate, supported by the original copies of corresponding receipts. All original receipts will be returned to the claimant once the rebate has been processed. However, those organizations claiming a rebate under reason code 3 may also submit certified true copies of receipts in place of original receipts. Certified true copies of receipts will not be returned to the claimant.

Diplomatic organizations and officials may file rebate claims on a monthly basis. They have up to two years from the date of purchase to claim a GST rebate.

Imported Goods

When goods are imported by foreign representatives for their personal use and that of their dependants, the use of GST Status Code 67 in field 42 of the Canada Customs Coding Form will indicate that the importation is non-taxable. Similarly, Code 68 may be used for importing goods for the official use of the diplomatic mission, consular post or international organization.


Diplomatic agents and career consular officers of diplomatic
missions and consular posts, respectively, are not permitted to
engage in commercial activities by virtue of the Foreign Missions
and International Organizations Act
. This prohibition does not
apply to others associated with these organizations or
international organizations, or dependants of either category.
Any of these persons involved in commercial activities are
subject to Excise Tax Act legislation like any other person and
are required to register for and collect the GST if their
annual world-wide sales of taxable goods and services exceed
$30,000 For more information, contact the nearest Revenue
Canada Tax Services office.


The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs determines which diplomatic organizations and officials are eligible for relief from GST. This determination is based on reciprocity.

Any questions about eligibility for relief from the GST should be directed to the Office of Protocol, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.


November 5, 2001

NOTICE OF CHANGE: In Technical Information Bulletin B-050R, GST Treatment of Diplomatic Organizations and Officials, dated June 26, 1995.

The following change is to be made to the above-mentioned publication to clarify that the limitation period for diplomatic organizations and officials to claim a GST rebate has been reduced from four years to two years. This amendment applies to amounts paid or remitted after June 30, 1996.

On page 3, delete the last sentence on the page and add the following:

"They have up to two years from the date of purchase to claim a GST rebate."

Please note that the database version of Technical Information Bulletin B-050R is being revised to reflect this change.

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