The process for applying for Observer status to the GPA has now closed. Applicants who have submitted an application should be notified of the outcome by Mid-September 2020.

Organisations that wish to become an accredited observer of the Assembly may apply to the Executive Committee on the appropriate online application form.

Please read the FAQs below before completing the 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.

Applications that are received late may be held over for processing the following year.

On this page you will find

  • Three online application forms – one for each type of observer application provided for in article 5.3 of the Conference’s rules and procedures.
  • Application to renew your observer status application, 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.

Applications 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:
a. Public entities that do not meet [the criteria provided for in article 5.1], 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 believe your organisation falls within one of these categories, please fill in the relevant application form (below):

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

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which application form should I use?
Article 5.3 of the rules and procedures sets out the eligibility criteria for entities or organisations that wish to become Assembly observers. There are three parts: 5.3(a), (b) and (c). Work out which category applies and use the corresponding form. If you are unsure, you may contact the Executive Committee Secretariat for guidance.

What is an international organisation?
An international organisation is an international governmental organisation.

How to apply for observer status?

Please complete and submit the relevant application form:

Who should complete an observer application?
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.

Applicants are also required to fill in the section ‘Name’ on the application form with the name and surname of the persona making the application. The Executive Committee reserves the right not to consider any application not including 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 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 will 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 Conference. This is accordance with the Rule 5.4( c ).

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 Procedure adopted at the 2018 Annual Meeting, Observer can be invited to participate in Working Groups on an ad hoc basis’.

If you are an 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 WGs available at the following link:

You can find a list of existing working groups at the following link:

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 ‘one off’ observer status and then later wants to attend another conference in another year they need simply to submit a new application at the time.

Grant 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 but might, in some cases, instead 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, normally 3 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 it turns out that 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.

Grant 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 2 months before the next Assembly’s conference closed session to be properly considered. However, organisations are encouraged to submit applications as early as possible.

Where can I find further information?
Relevant information can be found in the Assembly’s rules and procedures. For any further questions, contact the Secretariat.