Be an Observer

The process for applying for Observer status for the 2024 cycle is open.

Organisations that wish to become an accredited Observer of the Assembly may apply to the Executive Committee by using the appropriate online application form below.

Please read the FAQs below before completing the relevant application form.

To be processed in time, applications must be received by the Secretariat at least two months before the Closed Session of the Assembly’s annual conference. That means in 2024, the deadline for applications is end of day, Friday, 23 August 2024.

On this page you will find

  • An application form to become an Observer according to article 5.3 of the Conference’s rules and procedures.
  • An application form to renew your Observer status, if your Observer status is about to expire
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Please note public authorities eligible to apply for membership should submit a membership application to become a member and not an application to become an observer.

Eligibility Criteria and Application Forms

According to Rule 5.3 of the GPA’s Rules and Procedures, the following entities and organisations can apply for Observer status in the Assembly:

  1. Public entities that do not meet the membership criteria under Rule 5.1 of the Rules and Procedures but are involved in dealing with the protection of personal data and/or privacy.
    b. International organisations whose activity is related to the protection of personal data or privacy.
    c. Any other organisation that has granted Observer status to the Assembly, under the principle of reciprocity.

If you are already an Observer and wish to renew your application, please fill in the renewal form. Please see the section below titled ‘My Observer Status is about to expire in 2024 – what should I do?’ before filling in the renewal form.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which form should I choose?

Please read the rest of the FAQs and decide which category applies to you. If you are unsure, please contact the Secretariat at for guidance.

What is a public entity that doesn’t meet the membership criteria?

The membership criteria are listed in Rule 5.1 of the Assembly’s Rules and Procedures. To become a member, an organisation must:

  1. Be a public entity, created by an appropriate legal instrument based upon legal traditions of the country or international organization which it belongs to.
    b. Have the supervision of the implementation of the legislation on the protection of personal data or privacy as one of its principal regulatory mandates.
    c. Operate under legislation which is compatible with the principal international instruments dealing with data protection or privacy.
    d. Have an appropriate range of legal powers to perform its functions.
    e. Have appropriate autonomy and independence.

If your organisation does not fulfil these criteria, you may apply for Observer status by submitting the relevant application form above.

What is an international organisation?

An international organisation is an international governmental organisation.

For examples of international organisations that have been granted Observer status by the Assembly, please have a look at our List of Observers.

 My Observer Status is about to expire in 2024 – what should I do?

If you are already an Observer and wish to renew your status, please fill in the renewal form. Please check the date of expiry of your Observer Status before submitting an application for renewal of your Observer status.

You will still be able to apply for Observer Status for the 2024 conference. Observer status may be granted for a particular annual meeting or for a period of time covering more than one Annual Meeting. See also section below titled ‘How long does Observer status last for?.

Who should complete an Observer application form?

Observer applications should be submitted by a person authorised by the applicant to do so. Any email contact given must be an official address (e.g. Hotmail or Gmail addresses will not be accepted).

My authority is eligible for Membership. May I choose instead to apply to be an observer?

Public authorities eligible to apply for membership should submit a membership application and should not use an observer application form. You may find further information on how to apply for membership here.

Applicants are also required to fill in the section ‘Name’ on the application form with the name and surname of the person making the application. The Executive Committee reserves the right not to consider any application which does not include this information.

What happens after an application is submitted?

After submitting the online form, the applicant will receive an automated acknowledgement that the application has been successfully submitted.

If you have not received this notification after submitting your application, please ensure to notify the Assembly’s Secretariat at

Once the application is received, the Executive Committee will verify the applicant’s eligibility to become an Observer. Usually a correctly completed application form will give the Executive Committee all the information it needs to process the application. Occasionally, a member of the Executive Committee or Secretariat may contact the applicant to clarify or check certain details.

Once satisfied that an applicant should be recommended for Observer status, the Secretariat will circulate the list of new Observers to the membership, inviting objections within a ten-day period. If no objections are received, the recommendation will become the decision of the Assembly. This is accordance with Rule 5.4(c) of the Rules and Procedures.

If the Executive Committee does not consider that the applicant should be granted Observer status, the applicant will be advised and given the reasons for the Committee’s view.

How long will it take for an observer application to be processed?

Individual applications vary considerably in how long they take to process. Some applications are complex while others are quite straightforward. However, so long as an application is submitted at least 2 months before the annual conference there will be time to complete the assessment.

As an observer, can I participate to the GPA Working Groups?

Yes. Following a change in the Rules and Procedures adopted at the 2018 Annual Meeting, Observers can be invited to participate in Working Groups on an ad hoc basis.

If you are an existing Observer and you wish to participate in a particular Working Group, please send your expression of interest to the GPA Secretariat clearly outlining:

  • how the activities of your body/organisation are related or relevant for the work programme of the Working Group in question, and
  • the contribution you intend to make in the working group.

Before doing so, please familiarise yourself with the process as set out in the Background Note on the Process for Allowing Observers to Participate in the GPA Working Groups.

You can find a list of existing working groups here.

How long does observer status last for?

The online forms ask applicants to indicate whether they wish observer status to be granted for a particular annual meeting or for a period of time covering more than one annual meeting.

Observer status for a particular annual meeting
If an applicant wishes observer status to be granted only for a particular conference the Executive Committee will consider the application only for that conference.

If an organisation obtains a ‘one off’ observer status, and later wants to attend another conference in another year, they need simply to submit a new application within the published application timescales.

Granting of observer status for a particular annual meeting may be particularly relevant to:

  • Organisations that would find it useful to observe the conference when it is held in their own or a neighbouring country but who would be unlikely to travel to the annual conference in another region.
  • Organisations engaged in a short-term project closely touching upon data protection – for instance an international organisation setting privacy standards in a specialised area- but no long term involvement with privacy and data protection.
  • Government bodies setting up a data protection authority that will later be able to apply for membership in its own right.

Observer status for a period of time covering more than one annual meeting
If an applicant wishes observer status to be granted for a period of time covering more than one annual meeting, the Executive Committee will consider the application on that basis. The Executive Committee might, in some cases, recommend that observer status be granted only for a particular annual conference.

If an organisation obtains observer status for a period of time covering more than one annual meeting, the Secretariat will advise the term recommended by the Executive Committee. The recommended term is normally three years.

Towards the end of the period the observer need simply submit a renewal application if they wish to continue to be an observer. On a renewal application the observer will be asked to indicate which annual conferences they attended during the period of their observer status. If the observer has not attended the conference during the term of the observer status, it may be appropriate to switch to seeking observer status only for particular annual meetings.

Granting of observer status for a period of time covering more than one annual meeting may be particularly relevant to:

  • International organisations with an ongoing and long-term work programme touching upon privacy and data protection.
  • Public entities with ongoing involvement in global issues of privacy and data protection.

What is the last date to submit an observer application?

An observer application needs to be submitted two months before the next Assembly’s closed session to be properly considered.

To ensure a timely process, we encourage applicants to submit their applications as early as possible.

Applications are now open for the 2024 cycle. Please submit your application by end of day, Friday, 23 August 2024. Any applications received after this date may be considered in the next accreditation cycle due in 2025.

Where can I find further information?

Relevant information can be found in the Assembly’s Rules and Procedures.

For any further questions, please contact the Secretariat at