Dress instructions | Chapter 2 Uniform, Dress and appearance Section 1 Uniform and Dress


  1. A military force’s uniform is an outward symbol of its commitment, identity and ethos. Coupled with overall appearance, the uniform is the most powerful visual expression of pride by the individual service member, and is the primary means by which the public image of the CAF is fashioned.
  2. CAF uniforms identify all personnel as members of a cohesive, armed body in the service of Canada.
  3. When a uniform is required to be worn, all CAF members shall wear the applicable uniform described in this manual in accordance with the instructions contained herein.


  1. The uniforms, accoutrements, accessories, insignia, optional items and orders of dress set out in these instructions are those authorized for wear by all ranks of the CAF, pursuant to QR&O 17.01. Approval of new or modified dress items or orders shall recognize the need to provide protection and comfort over a wide range of climatic conditions, and support the complete spectrum of activity from ceremonial duties to operational requirements. As items and orders shall be designed for wear by the total CAF population, differences in body morphology shall be given appropriate consideration in detailed design and tailoring.


  1. Factors that determine a CAF member’s identity include: nationality, military environment, branch/corps, military occupation, and the individual attributes. The emphasis placed on each factor differs in accordance with custom and a desire to be inclusive. The CAF identity system reinforces the chain of command and strengthens organizational morale, cohesion, and operational effectiveness.
  2. Overlaying the organizational system is one for personal identity, i.e., identifiers which indicate personal qualification, experience, or specific membership in a military organization. These include environment, branch or corps, occupation, flying and specialist skill badges; rank insignia; decorations and medals. CAF members are allocated an environmental identity and issued a uniform according to the functional branch to which they belong. Branches, are comprised of individuals from one or more environments. The assignments of a particular environmental, branch, corps identity is managed under the functional authority of branch and corps directors. Reserve members of a branch identified with more than one environment are assigned the following on initial enrolment:
    1. For the Primary Reserve, they are assigned to the environment that matches that of their unit, i.e., Navy in the Naval Reserve; Army in the Army Reserve; Air Force in the Air Reserve, unless the initial unit’s assignment is in the functional Navy or Air Force; and
    2. For Supplementary Reserve, matches that of their initial assignment or is in accordance with instructions by the branch and corps directors.
  3. Once assigned, environmental identity is normally retained for a career. Thus, while the majority of members in environmental commands and units are uniformed alike, some differ, reflecting the unified nature of the CAF. CAF members can, in some circumstances, change their environmental identity during their service, however:
    1. A CAF member must not be ordered to change their uniform unless it is linked to a change in occupation;
    2. A member that wishes to change uniforms must make a formal request via their CoC, and both the losing and gaining environment must accept; and
    3. A member who changes occupation may be required to change their environmental identity, as some occupations are tied to a specific identity, such as: RCDC, RCEME and the Combat Arms.


  1. Five uniform categories are worn in by all CAF members, regardless of personal environmental identity categories and orders of dress and their occasions of wear are listed in Annex A to this chapter. Differences in orders of dress are authorized in accordance with environmental dress instructions:
    1. Ceremonial (No. 1);
    2. Mess Dress (No. 2);
    3. Service Dress (No. 3);
    4. Occupational (No. 4); and
    5. Operational dress (No. 5);
  2. Special dress practices apply to the following specific groups:
    1. Bands. Each musical band is allocated both an environmental and branch/corps/regimental identity, and the appropriate DEU is worn by all. See Chapter 5, Section 2.
    2. Cadet Instructor Cadre (CIC). CIC officers are initially allocated an environmental identity which matches that of their cadet corps/squadrons.
    3. Canadian Rangers. Canadian Rangers are members of the Reserve, and their dress is managed by the Canadian Army.


  1. Non-operational dress items are designed for and are worn during the year-round temperate climatic conditions experienced in static locations throughout Canada. Specifically:
    1. Environmental service dress and its ceremonial derivatives may be worn in all seasons;
    2. The Naval uniform ceremonial and service dress includes alternative white clothing items worn during the summer or in tropical climates. Details are in Chapters 5 and 6;
    3. The army uniform, air force uniform and special forces uniform are not differentiated by season;
    4. The army uniform white undress jackets (optional and alternative Nos. 1C and 1D orders) are only worn during the summer or in tropical climates. Details are in Chapter 6; and
    5. White mess dress jackets (No. 2A summer mess dress) are only worn during the summer or in tropical climates. Waistcoats are not worn during the summer unless otherwise ordered.
  2. Seasonal dress. Changes into seasonal dress may be ordered by local commanders as necessary given local climatic conditions. Operational GORE-TEX parkas may be worn with No. 3 orders of dress as follows:
    1. Naval environment – Navy GORE-TEX parka, NSN 8415-21-920-2414, and Naval Wind Raingear (jacket only);
    2. The army uniform – Not to be worn;
    3. The air force uniform – Intermediate jacket, NSN 8415-21-910-8219 and cold weather parka, NSN 8415-21-910-8195.
    4. The special forces uniform – Not to be worn.


  1. Provision. Service Dress is an order of dress sustained by the CAF supply system which is directly issued to each member through a system of points via an online clothing catalogue. The acquisition is at public expense. All ranks shall be provided with Service Dress to the authorized entitlement. Some individual items, such as kilts or optional regimental items, shall be provided from regimental stores.
  2. Responsibility. Personnel shall have their issued items of Service Dress available and maintained for use at all times. Members are personally responsible for the care and custody of all items of uniform clothing, accessories, and accoutrements issued to them.
  3. Maintenance. Members are required to maintain their Service Dress. Members may replace missing or damaged items of Service Dress through a system of points via an online clothing catalogue. There is a Tier system that designates point allocation to CAF members in accordance with their employment UIC. The point allocation reflects member’s anticipated need to wear the Service Dress.


  1. Certain clothing items, insignia and accoutrements, or variations thereof, may be authorized for optional wear as per Chapter 5, Annex E, so long as they are obtained:
    1. Without obligation on the part of individual members; and
    2. At no expense to the public, unless supplied exclusively through the online clothing catalogue.
  2. To obtain approval of optional items:
    1. Proposed designs shall be selected by command councils or branch/corps as appropriate (trials should be requested for major items of clothing to ensure acceptable fit, design and quality); and
    2. Selected designs shall be submitted as a recommendation through the chain of command to environmental dress committees, who shall, once agreement on design is reached, obtain or grant final approval depending on the item involved.
  3. Members can only be ordered to wear those optional items which are issued or loaned from a non-public distribution account under the control of a commanding officer. Accordingly, optional items which may be required for parades or other purposes, such as ceremonial accoutrements or full dress uniforms, should be brought onto charge according to regulations.


  1. To ensure uniformity and quality of uniform, all CAF clothing items, whether issued through the CAF Supply System or purchased from civilian tailors, shall be made according to the approved master sealed patterns which govern the official specifications for each uniform. The necessary specifications may be obtained from National Defence Headquarters, Director Soldier Systems Program Management (DSSPM), through the CAF Supply System.
  2. CAF members shall not wear any item of dress which does not conform to the approved sealed patterns for the item concerned. A commanding officer shall not introduce or sanction for experimental or other purposes any unauthorized deviation from the sealed pattern of clothing, equipment and badges, and shall be personally responsible for the cost of replacing or restoring to the approved pattern any articles worn in the unit that may be found not to conform with the approved sealed pattern.
  3. The approved pattern of optional items may be either:
    1. Sealed for design and technical specifications, if the item is to be procured and stocked by the CAF supply system. This is only done if the demand for the item is wide-spread and continuous; or
    2. Sealed for design only if the item is to be procured and stocked under command or branch/corps/regimental arrangements, such as through CANEX, kit shop, or by individual purchase directly from a manufacturer or tailor. In this case, approval includes delegated authority to the command or branch/corps/regiment concerned for technical specifications beyond the design itself.


  1. CAF items of clothing shall only be altered or modified in accordance with A-LM-007-100/AG-001 Canadian Forces Supply Administration Manual Supply Administration Manual (SAM) | Guides | Policy & Directives | Materiel Management | Materiel Group (mil.ca)


  1. Whenever an item of dress in a new pattern is authorized and introduced, an amendment to the dress instructions shall be issued by NDHQ/DHH, advising the conditions under which the superseded or obsolescent items may continue to be worn and the procedure for taking the new item into use.


  1. Supply and issue of the various orders of CAF uniforms shall be in accordance with the policies and various scales of issue within A-LM-007-100/AG-001 Canadian Forces Supply Administration Manual (SAM), Chapter 2.2 Materiel Authorization, that provide both the entitlement and authority. CAF personnel requiring further information regarding entitlement of CAF Clothing and Personal Issue Equipment shall contact their base clothing stores.
  2. Operational clothing is categorized by Deployed Operations scales, under the authority of Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) and Operational clothing scales that are determined by environment.


  1. Unless otherwise directed, all ranks:
    1. On duty shall wear the prescribed uniform; and
    2. The uniform shall be clean, pressed, without wrinkles and tidy.
  2. Reserve Force (Class C excluded). Members of the Reserve Force shall not wear a uniform except when:
    1. On duty, or proceeding to or from their place of duty;
    2. Attending a military function, event or ceremony at which the wearing of uniform is appropriate as approved by the CoC.
  3. Proceeding to or from Place of Duty. Commanding officers may order members to wear uniforms when proceeding to and from their place of duty where it is considered appropriate to do so in the circumstances, having regard to the custom and practice of the CAF.
  4. Members Attending Educational Institutions
    1. Officer Cadets of the Canadian military colleges shall wear the uniform ordered by the college commandant during the academic year, and the CAF uniform during practical phases of training.
    2. CAF members attending civilian educational institutions may wear CAF service dress, as ordered by their commanding officer.
  5. On Leave Outside Canada. Application to wear uniform on leave outside Canada shall be made to the authority having power to approve leave, in accordance with QR&O 17.04.
  6. Civilians. Civilians employed by DND, such as defence scientists and translators, or those accredited to DND for special duties, such as news media representative, may be authorized to wear certain items of military uniforms during the period of specific assignment. They will be identified by wearing on the uniform an appropriately marked brassard or armlet. See Figure 2-1-1. When CAF operational clothing is provided to civilians who accompany CAF units in operational or field conditions, issuing units must ensure that any badges, to which the civilian member is not entitled, are removed from the operational clothing. Such action will minimize the possibility that the individual will be mistaken for a member of the CAF.
  7. Retired Members.
    1. Ceremonial and Service dress (No1 and No3). Former CAF members are not permitted to wear ceremonial or service dress uniforms after release without specific authority. The CDS is the approving authority and may grant authority to wear service dress for specific ceremonial events directly linked to the petitioner’s service, such as an investiture or the awarding of a decoration, within a reasonable time after the petitioner’s release. Specific requests may be made through the chain or directly to the CDS’ office.
    2. Mess Dress (No 2). The wear of Mess Dress (No 2 or 2A only) after release is permitted. Former members are to wear the style of Mess Dress authorized by their Branch/Corps or Regiment at the time of their release, this includes their rank, decorations, skill insignia which they were entitled to. To distinguish retired members from serving members, retired members are to wear the distinctive CAF Retiree Insignia on the lower left sleeve of the mess dress jacket 1.5 cm above the cuff, or any embellishment including PO1/WO, CPO2/MWO or CPO1/CWO rank insignia.

    1. Introduction. The wearing of headdress on different occasions reflects a combination of the cultural etiquette of Canadian society, military custom, and religious practices. These highlight the differences between those whose customs require removing headdress as a sign of respect, and those who cover the head as a sign of religious respect and modesty. In addition:
      1. Details for the adherents of the Jewish, Muslim and Sikhs faith are contained in section 3 of this chapter.
      2. Military Funerals. Headdress shall be removed by the bearer party in accordance with their own religious practices.
      3. Attestation. Recruits shall not wear headdress (unless required for their own religious reasons) when being paraded before the attesting officer. The attesting officer and the escort shall wear headdress and shall remove it (unless required for their own religious reasons) during the administration of the Oath of Allegiance or the Solemn Affirmation. Following the administration of the Oath of Allegiance or the Solemn Affirmation, the persons who removed their headdress shall replace it.
      4. Summary Hearings. The headdress of an accused member shall be removed (unless required for their own religious reasons) prior to a summary hearings. Prior to the administration of oaths, all members present shall be ordered to remove headdress (unless required for their own religious reasons). On completion of the administration of oaths and affirmations, members present who removed their headdress, other than the accused, shall be ordered to replace their headdress.
      5. Courts Martial. Headdress shall be worn or removed in accordance with the etiquette of the court. See A-LG-007-000/AG-001, Court Martial Procedures. Guide for Participants and Members of the Public. When so indicated by their religious practice, CAF Members need not remove headdress during the administration of the oath or affirmation.
      6. Consecrated Space. All ranks shall observe the custom of the religious denomination concerned, in regard to the wearing of headdress in a consecrated space, except that headdress shall be worn when;
        1. On duty as a member of the vigil during the lying in state of a deceased dignitary, or
        2. As a member of a colour party when depositing or receiving colours
      7. Messes and Canteens. Headdress shall be removed upon entering either a mess or canteen except when indicated by a member’s religious practice or for personnel performing duties within these establishments;
      8. Non-Service Buildings. Headdress shall not be removed in any public place. However, personnel may observe the custom practiced by civilians in regard to the wearing of headdress in non-service buildings such as restaurants, theatres and civil courts;
      9. Public Transportation. Personnel travelling aboard a local public conveyance may remove their headdress. Personnel travelling extended distances by aircraft, bus or rail, may remove their headdress while in transit, however, headdress shall be replaced prior to exiting the public conveyance, vehicle or aircraft; and
      10. Motor Vehicles. Members wearing the uniform shall wear appropriate headdress while operating or travelling as a passenger in all military vehicle (including DND rental) except:
        1. If the roof of the vehicle is too low to permit headdress to be worn with comfort and safety;
        2. On extended trips;
        3. On order of the senior members present; and
        4. In a staff car, POMV or bus.


    1. Personnel wearing civilian clothes on duty or attending a defence establishment shall present a neat, clean and well-groomed appearance.
    2. Visible civilian items of apparel shall not be worn by members with any uniform, with the exception of required safety gear such as bicycle or motorcycle safety equipment and where specifically authorized in environmental dress instructions or through a specific CANFORGEN, or where authorized in these dress instructions. Conversely, visible items of uniform shall not be worn with civilian attire, except for accessories (e.g., gloves, scarf and footwear) which do not include any CAF insignia.


    1. Ecclesiastical, judicial, and academic clothing may be worn over an appropriate order of dress, or in lieu of uniform:
      1. By chaplains in the exercise of their beliefs, duties, and functions;
      2. By military judges, prosecutors, and defence council when participating in a court proceedings as part of their duties. Dress of participating members of a court martial shall be as prescribed in A-LG-007-000/AG-001, Court Martial Procedures. Guide for Participants and Members of the Public; or
      3. By personnel entitled to wear an academic cap, gown and hood, when participating in or attending an academic function.


    1. From Article 419 of the Criminal Code of Canada, every person is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction who, without lawful authority:
      1. Wears a uniform of the Canadian Armed Forces, or of any other Navy, Army, Air Force, or Special Forces or a uniform that is so similar to the uniform of any of those forces that it is likely to be mistaken therefore;
      2. Wears a distinctive mark relating to wounds received, or service performed in war; wears a military medal, ribbon, badge, chevron, or any decoration or order that is awarded for war services, or any imitation thereof; or wears any mark or device or thing that is likely to be mistaken for any such mark, medal, ribbon, badge, chevron, decoration or order.
    2. The functional authority may grant limited, revocable authority for a former member, released for a reason other than misconduct, to wear their uniform when attending a military entertainment or ceremony at which the wearing of the uniform is appropriate (QR&O 17.06).
    3. The applicable functional authority may authorize an officer or non-commissioned member to wear a uniform in a theatrical production, stage play or other public performance, where the officer is satisfied that no discredit to the service will ensue. (QR&O 17.065).
      1. By custom, veterans and other ex-service members may wear undress caps (e.g., berets, wedge caps), with badges, on remembrance and memorial occasions, subject to agreement of the branch/corps concerned;
      2. Civilian band volunteers may be authorized to wear uniform as noted in Chapter 5, Section 2;
      3. Sea, Army and Air cadet organizations may wear CAF uniform items and affiliated unit insignia; and
      4. Historical re-enactment groups may be authorized to wear obsolete uniforms subject to the agreement and general supervision of the branch/corps/regiment or environment concerned.


    1. Uniforms are optional items for members of the Royal Family holding Colonel-in-Chief or other Royal appointments. In general, units offering to provide full, undress, mess dress and service dress uniforms (which the Royal appointee may accept or decline) will be expected to specially tailor them. Operational clothing may be issued if required. Further information can be obtained from NDHQ/DHH through the chain of command. When acting in that capacity, other officers holding an appointment or honorary rank in accordance with QR&O 3.06, are authorized to wear:
      1. The current uniform, rank insignia, accoutrements and accessories applicable to the appointment or honorary rank held in accordance with entitlement in D01120CFS; and
      2. Obsolete aircrew badges, in accordance with the provisions detailed in Chapter 3, Section 3, paragraph 8 of these instructions.
      3. In addition Canadian Army Honourary appointments are to wear the unit or corps identifier (collar badge) on the collar of the jacket in lieu of gorgets, and are permitted the wearing of L1-L3 identity on their service dress uniform.
    2. On other occasions, when not acting in the capacity of such appointments and when the wearing of uniform is appropriate, the provisions of QR&O 17.06(3) shall apply.


    1. Former uniforms of the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Air Force and CANSOFCOM shall not be worn by CAF members, except by personnel participating in special events as authorized by the applicable environmental commander IAW DAOD 1000-7.
    2. Previous service manuals and any amendments or additional dress instructions subsequently issued regarding Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Air Force and CANSOFCOM patterns of uniforms shall be used as a guide on these special occasions. Information on these former orders and instructions can be obtained from NDHQ/DHH if required.


    1. Acquisition
      1. All Regular Force officers are required to be in possession of mess dress No. 2, which shall be procured at individual expense. Newly-commissioned officers are required to obtain this order of dress not later than six months after commissioning;
      2. Mess dress No. 2 is optional for Regular Force non-commissioned members and all members of the Reserve Force. Acquisition is the responsibility of the individual;
      3. Army colonels and Army Post Tactical Leadership Team (PTLT) and Tactical Post Unit Leadership Team (TPULT) CWOs, on promotion to that rank, may elect to continue to wear their previous branch/corps/regimental identifiers or collar badges and buttons; and
      4. Regiment mess dress, with current rank insignia, instead of the pattern authorized for army colonels (less honorary and royal appointees) and described in Chapter 5, Appendix 1 to Annex B, paragraph 9.


    1. Royal Canadian Medical Service, Royal Canadian Dental Corps and Royal Canadian Chaplain Service: Medical, dental and religious personnel in possession of a Geneva Convention Identification card (Form CF 281) are required to wear on their left arm a water-resistant armlet or Velcro patch bearing the distinctive emblem (Red Cross, Red Crescent or Red Diamond on a white background), issued and stamped by the military authority to which they are attached. The armlet is to be worn in the conduct of duties during a conflict between two or more parties. Above personnel are permitted to wear the special armlet in the conduct of their duties when in training for conflict and while on expeditionary operations in support of an armed forces or a civilian population.
    2. Persons who accompany the CAF: An armlet designating a civilian non-combatant shall be worn on the left arm of all persons accompanying the CAF. Examples of such persons are accredited war correspondents, scientific advisors, and/or supply contractors. See Figure 2-1-1.

    Figure 2-1-1 Civilian Armlet

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