Credentials ceremonies take place at Government House in Canberra. For resident HOMs, they are tentatively scheduled every two months from late February/early March. (For non-resident HOMs, see 2.6.4 and 2.11.) As participation in credentials ceremonies is determined by the order in which HOMs-designate physically arrive in Canberra and a minimum of three participants is required, a firm commitment on the date and time of the ceremony can usually only be given closer to the occasion.
Participants in the ceremony may wear national costume, a dark business suit or a day dress (no hats or gloves), or military uniform with full decorations (no sword).
Gifts are not exchanged.
2.6.1 Form of address for letters of credence and recall
Letters of credence and recall should be addressed to:
His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd)
Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia
2.6.2 Meeting with the Chief of Protocol
Working copies of letters of credence and recall (in the original language with English translations) should be handed over before or during the HOM-designate's initial call on the Chief of Protocol, soon after arrival in Canberra.
During the meeting, to which the HOM-designate may bring one or two colleagues from the mission, the Chief of Protocol will provide a briefing on the ceremonial procedures for the presentation of credentials.
This video shows the credentials ceremony for resident HOMs.
Missions should complete the questionnaire provided by Protocol Branch covering practical details such as dietary restrictions, the need for interpreters, and spouse’s curriculum vitae well in advance of the ceremony.
Government House will deliver a detailed program for the ceremony to the HOM-designate the day before the ceremony.
2.6.3 Presentation of credentials by resident heads of mission
The HOM-designate may be accompanied at the ceremony by their spouse and up to three members of accredited staff from the mission or a consular post interstate.
On the day of the ceremony, the HOM-designate and accompanying party are escorted to Government House by the Deputy Chief of Protocol. Transport is provided in Australian Government vehicles.
On arrival at the State Entrance to Government House, the HOM-designate is greeted by the Chief of Protocol and an aide-de-camp to the Governor-General. The spouse of the HOM-designate is greeted by a Government House official. The HOM-designate and party stand at the State Entrance to receive a salute with musical honours from the Guard of Honour.
After the salute, the HOM-designate and party move inside to the drawing room. The Chief of Protocol presents the HOM-designate to the Governor-General. With a few suitable words, the HOM-designate hands the letters of credence and recall to the Governor-General. The Governor-General shakes hands with the HOM and photographs are taken. The Governor-General then presents Lady Cosgrove to the HOM, followed by the Foreign Minister's representative (usually a DFAT Deputy Secretary) and the Official Secretary to the Governor-General.
The HOM in turn presents their spouse to the Governor-General and Lady Cosgrove. The HOM then presents accompanying officials to the Governor-General and Lady Cosgrove.
The Governor-General, accompanied by the minister's representative and the Official Secretary, invites the HOM to his study for a private discussion lasting approximately 10 minutes, while Lady Cosgrove invites the HOM’s spouse to the morning room. The HOM’s colleagues remain in the drawing room with the Chief of Protocol, the Governor-General’s staff and protocol officers.
Photographs are taken outside (or in the drawing room in the event of bad weather). After re-entering the house, the HOM and spouse take leave of the Governor-General and Lady Cosgrove, and exit via the State Entrance.
The HOM is escorted onto the lawn to a saluting point in front of the Guard of Honour, where a national or royal salute is given, the national flag is broken and the national anthem of the HOM is played. The HOM is invited to inspect the Guard of Honour and the Military Band. On completion of the inspection the HOM and party are shown to the official vehicles. The national anthem is played again as the motorcade leaves Government House.
In the event of rain, aspects of the ceremony involving the Guard of Honour and the Military Band are modified.
The Governor-General hosts a lunch on the same day as the ceremony for participating HOMs, each accompanied by their spouse and one official. HOMs return to Government House for the lunch in their own vehicles.
Photographs taken at the ceremony are provided electronically to missions as soon as they become available. Protocol Branch will advise of an email link and an individual password to access the images. Missions are welcome to download photographs for their own use.
A set of printed photographs will be sent to the HOM approximately one week after the ceremony.
A selection of photographs from each ceremony is published on the Governor-General’s website.
2.6.4 Presentation of credentials by non-resident heads of mission
Non-resident HOMs-designate are offered a date and time for an individual call on the Governor-General to present credentials. They may be accompanied by their spouse and/or one official either from their mission or a consular post in Australia.
The HOM-designate is driven to Government House in an Australian Government vehicle and accompanied by a representative of Protocol Branch. They are presented to the Governor-General by the Chief of Protocol. After presenting the letters, the HOM-designate will be invited to have a short discussion with the Governor-General. Tea or coffee will be served. Photographs are taken but there are no speeches or ceremonial elements.
Photographs taken during the call are available electronically as soon as they become available. Protocol Branch advise of an email link and an individual password to access the images. Missions are welcome to download photographs for their own use.
Protocol Branch will arrange delivery of a set of printed photographs following the presentation of credentials.
A selection of photographs from the presentation is published on the Governor-General’s website.
See section 2.11 for further details on credentials visits by non-resident HOMs.