How to Address a Prime Minister

How to Address a Prime Minister
Non-Commonwealth Country

A prime minister – a head of government – from a non-English speaking country has a traditional form of address in their local language. But when traveling internationally, and the common language is English, address in writing as:

—-Envelope or address block on letter or email:
—-—-His/Her Excellency (Full Name)
—-—-Prime Minister of the (official country name)
—-—-(Address)

—-Salutation and conversation:
—-—-Your Excellency:
—-—-—-or
—-—-Prime Minister:

—-#1) If you have several ‘excellencies’ and are concerned if you use ‘Your Excellency’ it will be confusing, use ‘Prime Minister (Surname)’. Using the person’s name is less formal than just their ‘title’ – but clarity is always the priority.

—-#2) Note that the formula specifies ‘official country name’. In your case the short form is ‘Lithuania’. The official country name is the ‘Republic of Lithuania’. Using the ‘official country name’ is formal. Look it up.

Why are Prime Ministers addressed as Your Excellency when traveling outside their country? The logic is they are traveling as ‘ambassadors of their government‘ and as such, they are addressed as accredited diplomats while on international missions.

– Robert Hickey

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

How to Address A Commonwealth Prime Minister?

How to I address an invitation to the Prime Minister of Canada and his wife?
—-—-—-– Sarah

Dear Sarah:
This is the formula used in all of the Commonwealth realms. Many Commonwealth countries, once colonies or dependenies of the United Kingdom use the same form of address.  For other nations – see another post on this page for a Prime Minister of a non-Commonwealth country.

#1) If his wife uses the same surname:
—-Envelope:
—-—-The Right Honourable (Full Name), MP
—-—-and Mrs. (Surname)
—-—-Address

#2) If his wife uses a different surname or has a special honorific of her own (Dr., military rank, etc.) write her name fully:
—-Envelope:
—-—-The Right Honourable (Full Name), MP
—-—-and (Honorific) (Given Name) (Surname)
—-—-(Address)

—-Inside envelope:
—-—-Prime Minister and Ms./Mrs./Dr./etc. (Surname)

—-Salutation or conversation:
—-—-Prime Minister
——–Ms./Mrs./Dr./etc. (Surname)

I have more in my book, but this is enough to get you through!

– Robert Hickey

Australian,  British and Canadian forms of address are related. See note on use of British spelling in honourable and right honourable.

Forms of Address: How a conversation begins can have a huge impact on how the conversation - even the entire relationship - develops.

How to Address a Former Commonwealth Prime Minister?

How do I send a letter to a former Prime Minister of the U.K.? He is retired and longer a member of the House of Commons.  What is the proper way to address him in the ‘Address’ line and ‘Dear’ line? We think the following might be correct:

—-Envelope and address block on the letter:
—-—-The Rt. Hon. (Full Name)
—-—-(Address)

—-Salutation:
—-—-Dear Mr. (Surname):
—-—-—-—-—-– Lorenza & Vinayak

Dear Lorenza & Vinayak,

Your forms look good. If he’s out of office and no longer serving in the House of Commons – he continues to be ‘the Right Honourable’ – but is no longer an ‘MP’

Address Line: The Rt. Hon. (Full Name)
Salutation: Dear Mr./Ms./etc. (Surname):

—-… with the following comments:

—-#1) In the U.K. they routinely abbreviate The Right Honourable to The Rt. Honourable or even The Rt. Hon. …. But’s it’s acceptable to spell everything out. If you do spell it out use the British spelling Honourable rather than the U.S. spelling Honorable. It’s always best to present a name the way the person is accustomed to seeing it presented at home.

—-#2) It seems strange, but in the salutation, he is correctly Mr./Ms./Dr. (Surname)

– Robert Hickey

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

When Should You Use the Forms on this Page?

You can use these forms of address for any mode of communication: addressing a letter, invitation, card or Email. (If there are differences between the official and social forms of address, I will have mentioned the different forms.)  The form noted in the salutation is the same form you say when you say their name in conversation or when you greet them.

Not Finding Your Answer?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  If you don’t see the official you seek included or your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, Sometimes I post the question  – but always change all the specifics.

— Robert Hickey 

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"