Embassies around the world

An embassy is a group of government officials, headed by an ambassador, who represent their government in a foreign country. The building in which they work is also called an embassy.

What is the task of an Embassy?

  • An Embassy is the diplomatic representation of a country's government in another country.
  • It transmits messages of its home government to the government of the host country and vice versa.
  • It informs its home government about important political, social, economical, military and other events happening in the host country.
  • It prepares international treaties and official state visits.
  • It promotes its own home culture, economy and science in the host country.
  • The military attaché is responsible for contacts between the two armed forces and for arms business.
  • Many embassies (but not all of them) have a consular section exercising the functions of a consulate (see the green column on the right side).

Special Cases:

  • The diplomatic representation to an international organization (e.g. the United Nations or the European Union) is mostly called Mission, Permanent Mission or Delegation.
  • A High Commission is the Embassy of a member country of the British Commonwealth in another Commonwealth country.
  • A Nunciature ist the name of the embassy of the State of Vatican.
  • Till the middle of the 20th Century, there was a difference between an embassy and a legation. Only the diplomatic representation of a monarchy were called "embassy". Republican countries had "legations". Nowadays this distinction is antiquated. All countries, wheter monarchies or republics call their diplomatic representations "embassies".

What is the task of a Consulate?

A Consulate is the representation of the public administration of a country in a foreign town.

First of all it is responsible for its own fellow- citizens, living or travelling in the host country. The most important duties of a consulate are:

  • To establish and renew passports and other official documents.
  • To report Births, Deaths, Marriages, Divorces, Adoptions etc. happened in the host country to the competent authorities home.
  • To inform its own citizens living abroad about the social security situation
  • To handle the military formalities and control for its own citizens liable to military service.
  • To help its own citizens in distress or other emergency situations.
  • To look after its own citizens in detention or arrest and to watch over the rule of law and fair trials.
  • To establish entry visas to foreign citizens and to inform them about immigration-, residence- and work permits.

Special Cases:

  • A Consulate General is a big and important consulate, mostly in a large city.
  • A Honorary Consulate or a Consular Agency has only limited competences. It is not managed by professional consular officers, but by a honorary consul. Most of them are distinguished business men or women or other trustworthy persons.
  • In Capital Cities, the duties of a consulate are carried out often (but not always) by the Consular Section of the Embassy.