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Flag Protocol

Flag protocol addresses topics such as the order of precedence in which flags are flown, when flags are flown at half-mast, the length of time it remains at half-mast and the disposal of flags.

The flying of flags outside Ottawa City Hall falls into two categories: those that are flown permanently, and those that are flown temporarily for special occasions. The flags that are flown permanently are the: Canadian flag, Ontario flag, City of Ottawa flag, Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council flag, Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation flag, and Franco-Ontarian flag.

All Embassies are invited to provide the Office of Protocol and Intergovernmental Affairs with their national flag to be flown outside City Hall, from sunrise to sunset, on their respective national day. The attached list of national days is provided in consultation with Global Affairs Canada as well as with Embassies and High Commissions.

Flags are also flown to commemorate important and significant events or campaigns in the city.

All requests must meet the criteria outlined in our procedures

Courtesy Calls

Courtesy Calls are brief and informal meetings with the Mayor. They are primarily diplomatic in nature. Due to the City of Ottawa’s unique position as the nation’s capital, it is customary for a new Ambassador or High Commissioner to request a meeting with the Mayor once he/she has presented his/her credentials to the Governor General of Canada (Ambassadors) or the Prime Minister of Canada (High Commissioners).

Courtesy calls can be initiated by:

  • heads of government
  • members of the Diplomatic Corps
  • international, national and municipal dignitaries
  • prominent and influential members of the community

Requests for a Courtesy Call should be received in the Office of Protocol and Intergovernmental Affairs four to six weeks prior to the visit.


Proclamations are ceremonial documents issued and signed by the Mayor to recognize a person, event, campaign, or organization for a certain day, week or month. Acknowledgement is normally given to reward the efforts and commitment of individuals and organizations that enhance our community. 

Proclamations may be issued to:

  • charitable and non-profit organizations or arts, athletic and cultural celebrations to help increase awareness for their programs and activities;
  • an individual who has achieved national or international distinction, or whose significant contribution to the community demands recognition;
  • an organization or an individual that is associated with Ottawa.

Proclamations do not constitute a personal or civic endorsement.

How to request a Proclamation:

New Proclamation: For all new proclamation requests, complete the Proclamation Request Form and submit the form online. You must also complete and submit the requested text for the proclamation using the Proclamation Template Form

Repeat Proclamation: If you have a proclamation that was previously issued by the City of Ottawa, you may submit it in Word format with the updated date and any changes to the text directly to

Proclamation requests must be submitted in writing to the Office of Protocol and Intergovernmental Affairs each year, a minimum of four weeks before the date required. Draft wording for the proclamation must be included with the request, and should not exceed 130 words in English. All requests must meet the criteria outlined in our Proclamation Procedures.

Building Illuminations

The Office of Protocol and Intergovernmental Affairs reviews requests for building illuminations by community organizations whose objective is to raise awareness or generate support for a cause, movement, campaign or initiative within the City.

Illumination requests will only be approved if received in the Office of Protocol and Intergovernmental Affairs at least six weeks prior to the date of the illumination. The request must be from an organization located within the boundaries of the City of Ottawa.

Illuminations operate on a cost-recovery basis. Unlike other major city landmarks, the Heritage Building and Ottawa City Hall do not have the infrastructure to accommodate illuminations and therefore equipment needs to be rented and installed for each request.

The average cost to illuminate the Heritage Building in one colour is $1,000.00 plus applicable taxes. The choice of the supplier and the request for quotations is the responsibility of the organization.

If the Office of Protocol and Intergovernmental Affairs approves the request and should the requesting organization decide to move forward, the Heritage Building would be illuminated from sunset to sunrise on one evening of the organizers choice, and would only encompass the Heritage Building, facing Elgin Street.

Promotion of the illumination is the responsibility of the requesting organization.


The Office of Protocol and Intergovernmental Affairs is called upon to plan and execute an event when it is high in public profile, often having political, cultural, national or international implications. These major events require certain formalities, protocol guidelines, and an agenda that strives to achieve perfection and a stellar image for the city. These major events and/or official ceremonies could include a planned visit from heads of state, national and international religious leaders, political leaders, and business or cultural missions.

The following are some of the components that are considered when the Office of Protocol and Intergovernmental Affairs organizes an event: relevance to the City of Ottawa, community or communities it impacts, involvement of other levels of government or foreign dignitaries.

There are events that are organized by the City of Ottawa and that the Office of Protocol and Intergovernmental Affairs does not have an official role to play. 

Gift Bank

The Protocol Gift Bank is a corporate depository of unique and appropriate gift items that are suitable for presentation to visiting dignitaries and other official visitors to the City, by the Mayor (or designate) and/or the City of Ottawa. Gifts may also be provided for presentation to hosts on the occasion of official trips outside the city, province or country.

Presentations and Recognitions at Council

Presentations or recognitions at Council are conducted on the day of a regularly scheduled Council meeting to honour the achievements of outstanding citizens, organizations, charitable causes and city-wide initiatives that contribute to the health and vitality of the City of Ottawa. These presentations could also relate to high-level achievements, awards and recognitions.

In consultation with the City Clerk, the Office of Protocol and Intergovernmental Affairs coordinates all presentations and recognitions at Council. These presentations are brief and held at the beginning of a Council meeting. 

Information on Council meeting dates and copies of Council agenda may be obtained online.

All requests must meet the criteria outlined in our procedures.

The Mayor’s City Builder Award is presented at each regularly scheduled Council meeting. This civic award was created to honour an individual, group or organization that has demonstrated through outstanding volunteerism or exemplary action, extraordinary commitment to making our city a better place. 

To nominate a candidate, the nominator should complete a nomination form describing the efforts and achievements of the nominee.

Study Tours and Visiting Delegations

The City of Ottawa hosts Study Tours / Visiting Delegations interested in municipal government, programs and services.

The Office of Protocol and Intergovernmental Affairs will:

  • facilitate all activities associated with the visit
  • provide leadership, coordination, and advice for all protocol matters
  • liaise with the responsive department
  • determine the need for a hospitality component to the visit
  • develop a tailored program to meet the needs of the visiting delegation
  • organize all technical and logistical requirements associated with the visit
  • coordinate introductions with staff
  • create information kits that meet the needs of our guests

Requests for study tours or visiting delegations should be submitted in writing to the Office of Protocol and Intergovernmental Affairs at least six weeks in advance of the event. All requests must meet the criteria outlined in our procedures.