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Global Outreach

Protocol for Visiting Dignitaries

Download VCU's Practical Guide for International Visitor Management

International Visiting Dignitaries Definition

For purposes of this protocol, international visiting dignitaries include

  • Heads of State or multinational organization
  • Senior governmental officials such as ministers
  • Deputy ministers or those of equivalent rank
  • Ambassadors
  • Deputy chiefs of mission
  • Consuls general
  • University presidents, chancellors and cabinet members

Units or individuals planning visits of distinguished domestic visitors should contact the Division of University Relations

Letters of Invitation

If you are planning to invite an international dignitary to the Virginia Commonwealth University campus, please notify the Global Education Office as early as possible. GEO will facilitate the issuance of an official letter of invitation from VCU signed by the university’s president. 


The host unit should prepare a detailed itinerary that includes names, titles and arrival and departure date of visitor(s); names and titles of VCU officials to be seen; date, time and location of meeting or event; and the responsible VCU party and their contact information.

This itinerary should be shared with the GEO as early as possible after confirmation of meetings.  


It is appropriate to exchange gifts with visiting international dignitaries and VCU should expect that official international delegations will arrive on campus bearing gifts. International visitors typically present high-quality gifts and this should be kept in mind in selecting gifts for guests.

GEO may be able to recommend appropriate gifts, but is not in a position to provide them. The hosting unit is responsible for acquiring appropriate gifts and coordinating presentation arrangements.

Meals and Receptions

Depending on the duration of the delegation’s visit, it is likely that a visit to VCU will include some form of meal or reception.

  • Hosting and invitations: Any meals or receptions should be arranged by the hosting unit. If the delegation is led by the head of the international institution, the VCU president or provost, if they are available, should be invited to the event. It is also advisable to invite members of the university community who are members of the delegation’s home nation.

  • Menu selection: If you must make menu selections, be aware of religious considerations and dietary restrictions. Consult your visitor’s office to find out about any dietary restrictions. It is not advisable to prepare foods from the visitor’s culture unless you are absolutely certain it can be prepared properly.


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