Service NL

Registry of Lobbyists Frequently Asked Questions

An overview of the Lobbyist Registration Act and the Registry.

Registry of Lobbyists

  1. What exactly is lobbying?
  2. Does the Lobbyist Registration Act apply to all lobbying activities?
  3. What contacts with government representatives are NOT considered lobbying?
  4. What kinds of individuals or organizations does the Lobbyist Registration Act apply to?
  5. What is an undertaking?
  6. What is a lobbyist?
  7. What is a public office holder?
  8. What provincial public officials are NOT considered to be public office holders under the Lobbyist Registration Act?
  9. Do public office holders who lobby other public office holders while working in their official capacity have to register as lobbyists?
  10. Can I still talk to my MHA or a councillor of St. John’s Municipal Council about a problem, without registering as a lobbyist?
  11. When does a person have to register as a lobbyist?
  12. What is the role of the Registrar of Lobbyists?
  13. What is the role of the Commissioner of Lobbyists?
  14. What offences or violations are defined under the Act?
  15. What are the penalties for violations?
  16. Where can I obtain a copy of the Code of Conduct?

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Consultant Lobbyist Registration

  1. What is a consultant lobbyist?
  2. Can a firm register an employee as a consultant lobbyist?
  3. What is an undertaking?
  4. When does a consultant lobbyist have to register?
  5. If the information in my return changes, when do I have to notify the Registrar?
  6. I registered an undertaking – when do I have to renew it?
  7. What happens when the lobbying stops?
  8. What if I stop working as a consultant lobbyist?
  9. I am a consultant lobbyist who volunteers with an organization that occasionally lobbies the provincial government. Do I have to register?

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In-house Lobbyists

  1. What is an in-house lobbyist?
  2. When does an organization have to register an in-house lobbyist?
  3. Can in-house lobbyists register their own lobbying activities?
  4. What qualifies an employee as an in-house lobbyist? What are the criteria?
  5. What happens if an in-house lobbyist changes jobs within the organization or stops working for the organization?
  6. Does an organization have to register every employee who communicates with the provincial government?
  7. Do I have to renew my registration every six months, even if none of the information changes?
  8. I occasionally conduct lobbying activity on behalf of an organization I volunteer with. Do I have to register?
  9. Does the Act apply to non-profits? Social advocacy groups? Volunteer-based organizations? Industry associations? Unions?

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Fees

  1. Will I have to pay a registration fee?

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Contact and Further Information

  1. How do I get more information about registration or the Newfoundland and Labrador Registry of Lobbyists?

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Registry of Lobbyists


1. What exactly is lobbying?

Lobbying is communicating with a public office holder in an attempt to influence government policy or program decisions, including:

  • the development, introduction, passage, defeat, amendment or repeal of any legislation, bill, resolution, rule, regulation or a by-law;
  • the development, amendment or termination of any policy or program of Government or a public body or by the City of St. John’s or its controlled entities;
  • a decision about privatization or outsourcing;
  • the awarding of any contract, grant, contribution or other financial benefit by or on behalf of the Crown or the City of St. John’s or its controlled entities;
  • arranging a meeting between a public office holder and any other person;
  • the procurement of goods and services;
  • the terms of a tender or request for proposals or other procurement solicitation prior to the awarding of that tender or the acceptance of the request for proposals or other procurement solicitation;
  • the terms of a contract, the choice of a contractor, or the administration, implementation or enforcement of a contract, or
  • the appointment of any public official.

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2. Does the Lobbyist Registration Act apply to all lobbying activities?

The Act applies to paid lobbying – lobbying that is conducted by paid professionals, when organizations (whether commercial or non-profit) hire them as consultants or employees to bring a particular message to key decision-makers.

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3. What contacts with government representatives are NOT considered lobbying?

Not all communication with a public office holder is considered lobbying under the Act. For example, when the government issues written requests for comment on an issue, the responses are not considered to be lobbying that must be registered or reported.

Other examples of communication with a public office holder that does not require registration or reporting under a Lobbyist Registration Act include:

  • submissions to Members of the House of Assembly (MHAs) or St. John’s Municipal councillors, in their official capacities as MHAs or councillors, by or on behalf of their constituents;
  • on-the-record submissions to a committee of the House of Assembly or to any body or person with jurisdiction under a given piece of legislation;
  • submissions to a public office holder about enforcement, interpretation or application of an Act or regulations, or administration of a policy, program, directive or guideline with respect to the person, partnership or organization being represented;
  • communication by a trade union regarding administration or negotiation of a collective agreement;
  • communication by a trade union representing a member or former member who is or was employed in the public service;
  • communication by an unpaid member of a voluntary organization, about an issue of concern to that organization.

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4. What kinds of individuals or organizations does the Lobbyist Registration Act apply to?

The Act applies to individuals who are paid to lobby and to organizations with employees who lobby on their behalf. Unpaid lobbyists are not required to register.

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5. What is an undertaking?

An undertaking is a contract between a lobbyist and client, agreeing to lobby government on a particular decision or decisions.

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6. What is a lobbyist?

A lobbyist is a person who engages in lobbying. Lobbyists may also be referred to as “advocates”, “public affairs advisors” or “government relations consultants”. The Act applies to paid lobbyists only, not those acting in a voluntary capacity.

Lobbyists can be either consultant lobbyists or in-house lobbyists.

A consultant lobbyist is an individual (for example, a lawyer, accountant, public relations specialist or other professional) who is paid to lobby on behalf of a client.

An in-house lobbyist is an employee whose lobbying activity (either individually or counted with other employees) amounts to 20 per cent of one staff member’s full-time work over a three-month period. This applies to both individual employees and groups of employees conducting lobbying activities.

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7. What is a public office holder?

A public office holder is a person occupying an elected, appointed or other employment position in the House of Assembly, as well as officers and employees of provincial government departments and agencies.

The term “public office holder” includes:

  • members, officers and employees of the House of Assembly (Speaker, Clerk, Chief Electoral Officer, Auditor General and Commissioner of Members’ Interests) and their staff;
  • officers, directors and employees of Crown agencies (as defined under the Auditor General Act);
  • trustees, officers or members of school, health care, hospital or nursing home boards;
  • officers or employees of the provincial government, or employees of officers or ministers not otherwise specified;
  • a member, officer, CEO, director or employee of the City of St. John’s Municipal Council and its controlled entities.

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8. What provincial public officials are NOT considered to be public office holders under the Lobbyist Registration Act?

The term “public office holder” does not include:

  • judges and justices of the peace;
  • members of an administrative tribunal, exercising a judicial function;
  • the Information and Privacy Commissioner;
  • the Citizens’ Representative;
  • the Child and Youth Advocate.

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9. Do public office holders who lobby other public office holders while working in their official capacity have to register as lobbyists?

The Act does not apply to public office holders when acting in their official capacity. Specifically, the following persons and groups, when acting in their official capacities, are not considered lobbyists under the Lobbyist Registration Act:

  • members, officers and employees of the House of Assembly (Speaker, Clerk, Chief Electoral Officer, Auditor General and Commissioner of Members’ Interests) and their staff;
  • members, officers and employees of the Senate or House of Commons of Canada, the legislative assembly of another province or territory or Canada, and their staff;
  • members of a council or other statutory body charged with the administration of civil or municipal affairs of a regional municipality, town or local service district, and their staff;
  • employees of municipal councils, the provincial public service or the federal public service;
  • officers, directors or employees of the Newfoundland Federation of Municipalities, the Combined Councils of Labrador, the Newfoundland and Labrador School boards Association, the Newfoundland and Labrador Health Care Association or hospital boards;
  • members of the council of an aboriginal band (as defined in the Indian Act or established by an Act of the Parliament of Canada);
  • members, directors or employees of an aboriginal government or aboriginal political organization;
  • diplomatic agents, consular officers or official representatives in Canada of a foreign government;
  • officials of the United Nations in Canada or of any other international organization granted privileges and immunities under any Act of the Parliament of Canada;
  • officers, directors or employees of a hospital board or the St. John's Nursing Home Board under the Hospitals Act
  • officers, directors, employees or trustees of a school board or Memorial University;
  • officers, directors or employees of organizations established or funded by the provincial government to provide information or advice on matters of public policy;
  • persons acting as unpaid volunteers.

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10. Can I still talk to my MHA or a councillor of St. John’s Municipal Council about a problem, without registering as a lobbyist?

You can still bring problems and issues to your elected representative, the Member of the House of Assembly for your district or in the case of the City of St. John’s, the municipal councillor elected for your area. The Lobbyist Registration Act is not designed to interfere with the relationship between constituents and their MHAs or their City of St. John’s municipal councillor.

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11. When does a person have to register as a lobbyist?

A person has to register as a lobbyist when:

  • carrying out a lobbying activity (except an activity that is specifically excluded in the Act) for pay or other benefit;
  • he or she meets the definition of consultant lobbyist or in-house lobbyist;
  • not in the list of persons excluded from the application of the Act when acting in their official capacity;
  • lobbying a public office holder as defined in the Act (not all public officials are public office holders for the purpose of the LRA).

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12. What is the role of the Registrar of Lobbyists?

The Registrar of Lobbyists is the administrative official responsible for:

  • establishing and maintaining a Registry of Lobbyists;
  • administering the registration process;
  • identifying omissions and inconsistencies, and asking the lobbyist to correct the information;
  • informing lobbyists, public employees, the public and others about the Registry;
  • ensuring that the public has timely access to information in the Registry;
  • distributing to each registrant a copy of the Code of Conduct;
  • issuing bulletins about the enforcement, interpretation or application of the Act or any applicable regulations.

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13. What is the role of the Commissioner of Lobbyists?

The Commissioner of Lobbyists is appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council (Cabinet) for a term of five years. The Commissioner is responsible for:

  • investigating, with reasonable cause, possible violations of the Lobbyist Registration Act, any applicable regulations or Code of Conduct;
  • prohibiting or canceling the registration of lobbyists whom the Commissioner determines to have gravely or repeatedly breached the obligations imposed by the Act, regulations or Code of Conduct;
  • ordering that some or all registration information be kept confidential;
  • recommending changes to the Code of Conduct; and
  • submitting an annual report on the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbyists to the Speaker of the House of Assembly.

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14. What offences or violations are defined under the Act?

Fundamentally, the Act prohibits a lobbyist from contacting a public office holder unless that lobbyist is registered in the provincial Registry of Lobbyists for those lobbying activities.

It is an offence under the Lobbyist Registration Act to:

  • knowingly make false or misleading statements in a return or other document provided to the registrar
  • knowingly place a public office holder in a position of real or potential conflict of interest
  • provide a gift or other benefit to the public office holder being or intended to be lobbied
  • lobby without registering within the time limits set out in the Act
  • fail to provide the required information
  • fail to provide the Registrar with changes, new information or requested clarifications
  • fail to comply with any other provision of the Lobbyist Registration Act

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15. What are the penalties for violations?

A person committing an offence under the Lobbyist Registration Act can be prosecuted. The penalty for a first offence is a fine of no more than $25,000; the penalty for second and subsequent offences is a fine of no more than $100,000. Where a person is found guilty of an offence, the court may also confiscate the improperly-obtained proceeds of lobbying and direct that those proceeds be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

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16. Where can I obtain a copy of the Code of Conduct?

A copy of the Lobbyists Code of Conduct PDF (15 KB) can be obtained from the Registry of Lobbyists, Commercial Registrations Division, located in Service NL in the Confederation Building in St. John’s, either by telephone at (709) 729-4043, by email at , or by downloading it from the Lobbyists Registry web site.

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Consultant Lobbyist Registration


1. What is a consultant lobbyist?

A consultant lobbyist is an individual (for example, a lawyer, accountant, public relations specialist or other professional) who is paid to lobby on behalf of a client.

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2. Can a firm register an employee as a consultant lobbyist?

No. Consultant lobbyists must file returns on their own behalf.

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3. What is an undertaking?

An undertaking is a contract between a lobbyist and client, agreeing to lobby government on a particular decision or decisions. An undertaking is defined by the contract between a lobbyist and client, not by the government decisions the lobbyist is trying to influence. An undertaking may be very broad and require lobbying on several decisions (for example, to increase funding for highway maintenance), or may focus on a single decision (for example, to have a new highway interchange located in a specific place).

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4. When does a consultant lobbyist have to register?

A consultant lobbyist has to register within 10 days of beginning an undertaking. Each undertaking has to be registered separately. Consultant lobbyists who are actively lobbying at the time the legislation comes into force (October 11, 2005) must register within 10 days and must report their lobbying activities from January 1, 2005.

Consultant lobbyists who are actively lobbying at the time the legislation comes into force (October 11, 2005) must register within 10 days and are required to report their lobbying activities from January 1, 2005.

Lobbying the City of St. John’s or its Controlled Entities

Effective January 1, 2009 a consultant lobbyist who lobbies the City of St. John’s or its controlled entities must register within 10 days from January 1, 2009 a new lobbying activity or amend an existing related registration.

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5. If the information in my return changes, when do I have to notify the Registrar?

Changes to information contained in a return must be filed within 30 days of the change occurring or the lobbyist becoming aware of the change.

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6. I registered an undertaking – when do I have to renew it?

Each undertaking must be renewed or re-registered within 30 days of each six-month anniversary of the most recent filing of the undertaking.

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7. What happens when the lobbying stops?

A consultant lobbyist must advise the Registrar when an undertaking has been completed or terminated within 30 days of the completion or termination.

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8. What if I stop working as a consultant lobbyist?

Consultant lobbyists must advise the Registrar that they have stopped working in that role within 30 days of ceasing to be a consultant lobbyist.

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9. I am a consultant lobbyist who volunteers with an organization that occasionally lobbies the provincial government. Do I have to register?

Consultant lobbyists are not required to register lobbying performed on a voluntary basis on behalf of any person or organization. The Act applies only to persons who are compensated for their lobbying efforts.

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In-house Lobbyists


1. What is an in-house lobbyist?

An in-house lobbyist is an employee whose lobbying activity on behalf of the employer organization (either individually or counted with other employees) amounts to 20 per cent of one staff member’s full-time work as assessed over a three-month period.

Given the criteria defining who is classified as an in-house lobbyist, it is possible that an employee identified as an in-house lobbyist could be working on different lobbying activities concurrently.

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2. When does an organization have to register an in-house lobbyist?

The senior officer of an organization employing an in-house lobbyist must register within 10 days of the legislation coming into force, if that employee is actively lobbying. On proclamation of the Lobbyist Registration Act, lobbyists who are actively lobbying are required to report their lobbying activities from January 1, 2005.

An organization employing an in-house lobbyist must register (through its senior officer) within 10 days after the in-house lobbyist is employed or becomes active as a lobbyist. It must also re-register within 30 days of each six-month anniversary of the most recent filing of the lobbying activity.

Lobbying the City of St. John’s or its Controlled Entities

Effective January 1, 2009 an in-house lobbyists who lobbies the City of St. John’s or its controlled entities must register within 10 days from January 1, 2009 a new lobbying activity or amend an existing related registration.

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3. Can in-house lobbyists register their own lobbying activities?

No. The senior officer of the organization (meaning the most senior officer of the organization who is compensated for the performance of his or her duties) is responsible for notifying the Registrar of the lobbying activities performed by the organization’s inhouse lobbyists.

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4. What qualifies an employee as an in-house lobbyist? What are the criteria?

An in-house lobbyist is an employee whose lobbying activity on behalf of the employer organization (either individually or counted with other employees) amounts to 20 per cent of one staff member’s full-time work as assessed over a three-month period. This applies to both individual employees and groups of employees conducting lobbying activities. For example, given a five-day workweek, an employee or group would qualify as an inhouse lobbyist by spending 12 working days on lobbying activity over a three-month period; two employees working six days each would meet this requirement.

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5. What happens if an in-house lobbyist changes jobs within the organization or stops working for the organization?

The senior officer is responsible for notifying the registrar of any in-house lobbyist who has been identified in a previous return that has ceased to be an in-house lobbyist or ceases to be employed by the organization. If an in-house lobbyist is no longer associated with a specific lobbying activity but continues as an in-house lobbyist working on a new lobbying activity for the organization then the senior officer is responsible for recording this information in the lobbyist registry as well.

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6. Does an organization have to register every employee who communicates with the provincial government?

No. Only the employee(s) who meet the criteria for defining who is an in-house lobbyist and who meet the definition of lobbying as specified in 2(1)(c) of the Act have to be recorded by the senior officer in disclosing the organization’s lobbying activities.

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7. Do I have to renew my registration every six months, even if none of the information changes?

Yes. The senior officer must file a return with the registrar every six months to report current and planned activities for the filing period.

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8. I occasionally conduct lobbying activity on behalf of an organization I volunteer with. Do I have to register?

Persons who conduct lobbying activities on behalf of an organization they volunteer with are not required to register those lobbying activities. The Act applies only to persons who are compensated for their lobbying efforts.

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9. Does the Act apply to non-profits? Social advocacy groups? Volunteer-based organizations? Industry associations? Unions?

A wide variety of individuals and organizations engage in lobbying; they may also be referred to as “advocates” or “social advocacy groups”. If they are paid to lobby by a client or they hire in-house lobbyists to lobby on their own behalf, the Act applies to them.

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Fees


1. Will I have to pay a registration fee?

The general public has free and open access to the Registry.

  • Registering lobbyists are charged a registration fee PDF (17 KB) to offset the costs of the system.
  • In-house lobbyists are charged a lower fee than consultant lobbyists (in the case of an online in-house lobbyist registration, no fee is charged).
  • The lobbyist registration system is designed for convenient self-service access through the Internet. To ensure access for those without Internet service, paper returns (mail or over-the-counter) can be processed, at a somewhat higher fee.


Contact and Further Information


1. How do I get more information about registration or the Newfoundland and Labrador Registry of Lobbyists?

For more information about registration or the Newfoundland and Labrador Registry of Lobbyists, contact

Registry of Lobbyists

Commercial Registrations Division
Service NL
P.O. Box 8700
St. John's, NL
A1B 4J6
Tel: (709) 729-4043
Fax: (709) 729-0232

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