Consul (representative)

A consul is an official representative of the government of one state in the territory of another, normally acting to assist and protect the citizens of the consul's own country, and to facilitate trade and friendship between the people of the two countries.[1]

A consul is distinguished from an ambassador, the latter being a representative from one head of state to another. There can be only one ambassador from one country to another, representing the first country's head of state to that of the second, and his or her duties revolve around diplomatic relations between the two countries; however, there may be several consuls, one in each of several major cities, providing assistance with bureaucratic issues to both the citizens of the consul's own country traveling or living abroad and to the citizens of the country in which the consul resides who wish to travel to or trade with the consul's country.

A less common usage is an administrative consul, who takes a governing role and is appointed by a country that has colonised or occupied another.

17.4.14 1 Lisbon 325 (13909208546)
The imposing building on Luís de Camões Square in Lisbon which held the Consulate-General of Brazil for more than a century.[2]

Antecedent: the classical Greek proxenos

In classical Greece, some of the functions of the modern consul were fulfilled by a proxenos. Unlike the modern position, this was a citizen of the host polity (in Greece, a city-state). The proxenos was usually a wealthy merchant who had socio-economic ties with another city and who helped its citizens when they were in trouble in his own city. The position of proxenos was often hereditary in a particular family. Modern honorary consuls fulfill a function that is to a degree similar to that of the ancient Greek institution.

Historical development of the terms

Consuls were the highest magistrates of the Roman Republic and Roman Empire. The term was revived by the Republic of Genoa, which, unlike Rome, bestowed it on various state officials, not necessarily restricted to the highest. Among these were Genoese officials stationed in various Mediterranean ports, whose role included duties similar to those of the modern consul, i. e. helping Genoese merchants and sailors in difficulties with the local authorities.

The consolat de mar was an institution established under the reign of Peter IV of Aragon in the fourteenth century, and spread to 47 locations throughout the Mediterranean.[3] It was primarily a judicial body, administering maritime and commercial law as Lex Mercatoria. Although the consolat de mar was established by the Corts General (parliament) of the Crown of Aragon, the consuls were independent from the King. This distinction between consular and diplomatic functions remains (at least formally) to this day. Modern consuls retain limited judicial powers to settle disputes on ships from their country (notably regarding the payment of wages to sailors).

The consulado de mercaderes was set up in 1543 in Seville as a merchant guild to control trade with Latin America. As such, it had branches in the principal cities of the Spanish colonies.

The connection of "consul" with trade and commercial law is retained in French. In Francophone countries, a juge consulaire (consular judge) is a non-professional judge elected by the chamber of commerce to settle commercial disputes in the first instance (in France, sitting in panels of three; in Belgium, in conjunction with a professional magistrate).

Consulates and embassies

Consulate of Kazakhstan in Omsk
Consulate of Kazakhstan in Omsk, Russia
Klopstockstrasse 27
Consulate of Denmark in Hamburg
Consulate Portugal Mindelo 2006
Consulate of Portugal in Mindelo, Cape Verde

The office of a consul is a consulate and is usually subordinate to the state's main representation in the capital of that foreign country (host state), usually an embassy or – between Commonwealth countries – high commission. Like the terms embassy or high commission, consulate may refer not only to the office of consul, but also to the building occupied by the consul and his or her staff. The consulate may share premises with the embassy itself.

Consular rank

A consul of the highest rank is termed a consul-general, and is appointed to a consulate-general. There are typically one or more deputy consuls-general, consuls, vice-consuls, and consular agents working under the consul-general. A country may appoint more than one consul-general to another nation.

Authority and activities

Consuls of various ranks may have specific legal authority for certain activities, such as notarizing documents. As such, diplomatic personnel with other responsibilities may receive consular letters patent (commissions). Aside from those outlined in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, there are few formal requirements outlining what a consular official must do. For example, for some countries, consular officials may be responsible for the issue of visas; other countries may limit "consular services" to providing assistance to compatriots, legalization of documents, etc. Nonetheless, consulates proper will be headed by consuls of various ranks, even if such officials have little or no connection with the more limited sense of consular service.

Activities of a consulate include protecting the interests of their citizens temporarily or permanently resident in the host country, issuing passports; issuing visas to foreigners and public diplomacy. However, the principal role of a consulate lies traditionally in promoting trade—assisting companies to invest and to import and export goods and services both inwardly to their home country and outward to their host country. Although it is not admitted publicly, consulates, like embassies, may also gather intelligence information from the assigned country.

Consular districts

Role in diplomatic missions

Contrary to popular belief, many of the staff of consulates may be career diplomats, but they do not generally have diplomatic immunity unless they are also accredited as such. Immunities and privileges for consuls and accredited staff of consulates (consular immunity) are generally limited to actions undertaken in their official capacity and, with respect to the consulate itself, to those required for official duties. In practice, the extension and application of consular privileges and immunities can differ widely from country to country.

Consulates are more numerous than diplomatic missions, such as embassies. Ambassadors are posted only in a foreign nation's capital (but exceptionally outside the country, as in the case of a multiple mandate; e.g., a minor power may accredit a single ambassador with several neighbouring states of modest relative importance that are not considered important allies).

Consuls are posted in a nation's capital, and in other cities throughout that country, especially centres of economic activity and cities where large populations of citizens from the consul's home country reside (expatriates). In the United States, for example, most countries have a consulate-general in New York City, (the home of the United Nations), and some have consulates-general in several major cities, such as Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, or San Francisco. Many countries have multiple consular offices in nations such as Germany, Russia, Canada, Brazil, and Australia.

Consulates are subordinate posts of their home country's diplomatic mission (typically an embassy, in the capital city of the host country). Diplomatic missions are established in international law under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, while consulates-general and consulates are established in international law under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Formally, at least within the US system, the consular career (ranking in descending order: consul-general, consul, vice-consul, honorary consul) forms a different hierarchy from the diplomats in the strict sense. However, it is common for individuals to be transferred from one hierarchy to the other, and for consular officials to serve in a capital carrying out strictly consular duties within the consular section of a diplomatic post; e.g., within an embassy.

Between Commonwealth countries, both diplomatic and consular activities may be undertaken by a High Commission in the capital, although larger Commonwealth nations generally also have consulates and consulates-general in major cities. For example, Toronto in Canada, Sydney in Australia and Auckland, New Zealand, are of greater economic importance than their respective national capitals, hence the need for consulates there.

Hong Kong

When Hong Kong was under British administration, diplomatic missions of Commonwealth countries, such as Canada,[4] Australia,[5] New Zealand,[6] India,[7] Malaysia,[8] and Singapore[9] were known as commissions. After the transfer of sovereignty to China in 1997, they were renamed consulates-general,[10] with the last commissioner becoming consul-general.[11] However, the Australian commission had been renamed the consulate-general in 1986.[12]

Owing to its status as a special administrative region of China, some countries' consulates-general in Hong Kong report directly to their respective foreign ministries, rather than to their embassies in Beijing, such as those of Canada,[13] the United Kingdom[14] and United States.[15]

Consul general

A consul general is an official who heads a consulate general and is a consul of the highest rank serving at a particular location. A consul general may also be responsible for consular districts which contain other, subordinate consular offices within a country. The consul general serves as a representative who speaks on behalf of his or her state in the country to which he or she is located, although ultimate jurisdiction over the right to speak on behalf of a home country within another country ultimately belongs to the single ambassador. It is abbreviated "CG", and the plural form is 'consuls general'. In most embassies, the consular section is headed by a consul general who is a diplomat and a member of the ambassador's country team.

Honorary consul

Polish Consul Jer
Home of Poland's honorary consul in Jerusalem

Some consuls are not career officials of the represented state at all; some are locally engaged staff with the nationality of the sending country,[16] and in smaller cities, or in cities that are very distant from full-time diplomatic missions, a foreign government which feels that some form of representation is nevertheless desirable may appoint a person who has not hitherto been part of their diplomatic service to fulfill this role. Such a consul may well combine the job with his or her own (often commercial) private activities, and in some instances may not even be a citizen of the sending country. Such consular appointments are usually given the title of honorary consul.

In addition, the U.S. Secretary of State (in a memo issued on August 6, 2003) states the following concerning honorary consuls:

The United States Government appreciates that honorary consular officers provide important services both to the governments which they represent and to United States citizens and entities. Nevertheless, for reasons previously communicated to the missions, United States Government policy requires that the maintenance and establishment of consular posts headed by honorary consular officers must be supported by documentation which makes it possible for the Department of State to be assured that meaningful consular functions will be exercised by honorary consular officers on a regular basis and that such consular officers come under the supervision of, and are accountable to, the governments which they represent."[17]

As a matter of U.S. policy, honorary consular officers recognized by the U.S. Government are American citizens, or permanent resident aliens who perform consular services on a part-time basis. The limited immunity afforded honorary consular officers is specified in Article 71 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR). Such individuals do not enjoy personal inviolability, and may be arrested pending trial if circumstances should otherwise warrant. However, appropriate steps are provided to accord to such officers the protection required by virtue of their official position. In addition, the consular archives and documents of a consular post headed by an honorary consular officer are inviolable at all times, and wherever they may be, provided they are kept separate from other papers and documents of a private or commercial nature relating to other activities of an honorary consular officer or persons working with that consular officer.

Despite their other roles, honorary consular officers (in the widest use of the term) in some instances also have responsibility for the welfare of citizens of the appointing country within their bailiwick.[18] For example, the Embassy of Finland states that the tasks of Finland's Honorary Consulate include monitoring the rights of Finns and permanent residents of Finland residing in the area in which the consulate is located, providing advice and guidance for distressed Finnish citizens and permanent residents traveling abroad to that area, and assisting them in their contacts with local authorities or the nearest Finnish embassy or consulate. Certain types of notarized certificates can be acquired through an honorary consul. Together with diplomatic missions, an honorary consul promotes economic and cultural relations between Finland and the country in question, and takes part in strengthening Finland’s image abroad. An honorary consul can advise Finnish companies, for instance, in obtaining information about local business culture and in finding cooperation partners.[18]

Historical role


In the social life of 19th-century Lübeck as depicted in Thomas Mann's novel Buddenbrooks – based on Mann's thorough personal knowledge of his own birthplace – an appointment as the consul of a foreign country was a source of considerable social prestige among the city's merchant elite. As depicted in the book, the position of a consul for a particular country was in practice hereditary in a specific family, whose mansion bore the represented country's coat of arms, and with that country confirming the consul's son or other heir in the position on the death of the previous consul. As repeatedly referenced by Mann, a consul's wife was known as "Consulin" and continued to bear that title even on the death of her husband. Characters in the book are mentioned as consuls for Denmark, the Netherlands and Portugal.

Consuls in the Foreign Service of the USA

Main article: Consuls in the Foreign Service of the USA

See also


  1. ^ Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Consul (commercial)" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 7 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 20–22.
  2. ^ _new Brazilian Consulate address, Lisbon, 2015, Rua António Maria Cardoso, nº 39.[1]
  3. ^ "Consulados de Barcelona". La Vanguardia. 7 November 2008.
  4. ^ 2 China Dissidents Granted Asylum, Fly to Vancouver Archived 29 July 2015 at Wikiwix, Los Angeles Times, 17 September 1992
  5. ^ Australian Commission Office Requirements, Sydney Morning Herald, 18 August 1982
  6. ^ NZer's credibility under fire in Hong Kong court, New Zealand Herald, 27 March 2006
  7. ^ Indians in Limbo as 1997 Hand-over Date Draws Nearer Archived 24 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine., Inter Press Service, 12 February 1996
  8. ^ Officials puzzled by Malaysian decision, New Straits Times, 3 July 1984
  9. ^ Singapore Lure Stirs Crowds In Hong Kong Archived 28 July 2015 at Wikiwix, Chicago Tribune, 12 July 1989
  10. ^ ABOUT THE CONSULATE-GENERAL Archived 8 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ In the swing of things Archived 23 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine., Embassy Magazine, September 2010
  12. ^ Australian Foreign Affairs Record, Volume 56, Issues 7-12, Australian Government Public Service, 1985, page 1153
  13. ^ Government of Canada, Foreign Affairs Trade and Development Canada. "Inspection reports". Archived from the original on 5 October 2016. Retrieved 14 April 2017.
  14. ^ Commons, The Committee Office, House of. "House of Commons - The UK's relations with Hong Kong: 30 years after the Joint Declaration - Foreign Affairs". Archived from the original on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 14 April 2017.
  15. ^ Christopher J. Marut Appointed as Director of the Taipei Office of the American Institute in Taiwan, American Institute in Taiwan, May 8, 2012
  16. ^ See Chapter 1, Section 1, Article 22 of convention
  17. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 24 June 2017.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ a b "Honorary consulates of Finland in the U.S. – Embassy of Finland, Washington – Consulate Generals of Finland, New York, Los Angeles : Finland in the US : Finnish Honorary Consuls". 15 December 2011. Archived from the original on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 21 December 2013.


  • De Groot, Alexander (1978), The Ottoman Empire and the Dutch Republic: a History of the Earliest Diplomatic Relations, 1610-1630, Leiden: Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologisch Instituut Leiden/Istanbul, ISBN 978-90-6258-043-9
  • Dursteler, Eric R. (2001), "The Bailo in Constantinople: Crisis and Career in Venice's Early Modern Diplomatic Corps", Mediterranean Historical Review, 16 (2): 1–30, doi:10.1080/714004583, ISSN 0951-8967
  • Eldem, Edhem (1999), French Trade in Istanbul in the Eighteenth Century, Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, ISBN 978-90-04-11353-4
  • Epstein, Steven A. (2006), Purity Lost: Transgressing Boundaries in the Eastern Mediterranean 1000–1400, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, ISBN 978-0-8018-8484-9
  • Goffman, Daniel; Aksan, Virginia H. (2007), "Negotiation With the Renaissance State: The Ottoman Empire and the New Diplomacy", The Early Modern Ottomans: Remapping the Empire, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 61–74, ISBN 978-0-521-81764-6
  • Goffman, Daniel (2002), The Ottoman Empire and Early Modern Europe, New York: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-45280-9
  • Mattingly, Garrett (1963), Renaissance Diplomacy, The Bedford Historical Series, London: Cape, OCLC 270845938
  • Steensgaard, Neils (1967), "Consuls and Nations in the Levant From 1570 to 1650", The Scandinavian economic history review, 15 (1): 13–55, doi:10.1080/03585522.1967.10414351, ISSN 0358-5522

External links

Administrative consul

Under certain historical circumstances, a major power's consular representation would take on various degrees of administrative roles, not unlike a colonial Resident Minister. This would often occur in territories without a formal state government (thus warranting a full diplomatic mission, such as an embassy) or in relatively insignificant "backwaters."


An ambassador is an official envoy, especially a high-ranking diplomat who represents a state and is usually accredited to another sovereign state or to an international organization as the resident representative of their own government or sovereign or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment. The word is also often used more liberally for persons who are known, without national appointment, to represent certain professions, activities and fields of endeavor such as sales.

An ambassador is the ranking government representative stationed in a foreign capital. The host country typically allows the ambassador control of specific territory called an embassy, whose territory, staff, and vehicles are generally afforded diplomatic immunity in the host country. Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, an ambassador has the highest diplomatic rank. Countries may choose to maintain diplomatic relations at a lower level by appointing a chargé d'affaires in place of an ambassador.

The equivalent to an ambassador exchanged among members of the Commonwealth of Nations are known as High Commissioners. The "ambassadors" of the Holy See are known as Papal or Apostolic Nuncios.


Consul (abbrev. cos.; Latin plural consules) was the title of one of the chief magistrates of the Roman Republic, and subsequently a somewhat significant title under the Roman Empire. The title was used in other European city states through antiquity and the Middle Ages, then revived in modern states, notably in the First French Republic. The relating adjective is consular, from the consularis.

This usage contrasts with modern terminology, where a consul is a type of diplomat.

Consul (disambiguation)

A consul is one of a number of political officials.

Consul may also refer to:

Roman consul, the highest elected office in ancient RomeLater uses of the word "consul" include:

Consul (representative), a representative in one country of the government of another

Consul General, the head of a consular mission

Consulate (disambiguation)

Consulate may refer to:

the office, comparable in some senses to an embassy, of a Consul (representative), an official representative of a state outside its territory

the office or term of any official styled Consul, originally a magistrate of the Roman Republic

Consulate of the Sea, a Catalan medieval judicial organ for commerce

French Consulate, the government of republican France from 1799 to 1804

a brand of menthol cigarette introduced by Rothmans International

High commissioner

High commissioner is the title of various high-ranking, special executive positions held by a commission of appointment.

The English term is also used to render various equivalent titles in other languages.

Kasenkina Case

The Kasenkina Case

(Russian: "Дело Касенкиной") – the 1948 Cold War political scandal was associated with the name of Oksana Kasenkina, a teacher of chemistry at the Soviet school in New York.

The personal tragedy of a lonely aging woman coincided in time with McCarthyism and the Berlin Blockade and was immensely overheated by the Mass media into a noisy and ambiguous affair. After 50 years it still remains of interest to historians and journalists. Ellis M. Zacharias, a retired Rear Admiral and senior Intelligence Officer of the US Navy, wrote: "Bigoted individuals should not be allowed dominant influence on the delicate conduct of our foreign relations – but soon it became evident that such persons had gained complete control of the case. By inspiring headlines and stimulating the news stories below them, they drove the State Department to a diplomatic action whose severity was out of proportion to the incident". The mystery of the case was unravelled only 50 years later when the classified top secret documents of the State Department and FBI became open to the public.

Legends of Africa

The Legends of Africa reflects a wide-ranging series of kings, queens, chiefs and other leaders from across the African continent including Mali, Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, Congo, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

List of ambassadors of China to New Zealand

The Chinese ambassador to New Zealand has his residence in Wellington and is also accredited to the governments in Avarua (Cook Islands) and Alofi (Niue).

List of ambassadors of Italy to Guatemala

The Italian ambassador to Guatemala City is the official representative of the Government in Rome to the Government of Guatemala.

Mathilda Foy

Mathilda (or Mathilde) Foy (or Foj), (10 November 1813 – 1 November 1869), was a Swedish philanthropist and writer, known for her charitable work. She is known as a pioneer of the Sunday school, and as the co-founder of the charity organisation Fruntimmersällskapet för fångars förbättring ('Women's Society for the Improvement of Prisoners') in 1854.

Stanley Clifford Weyman

Stanley Clifford Weyman (November 25, 1890 – August 27, 1960), was an American multiple impostor who impersonated public officials, including the United States Secretary of State and various military officers.

Weyman was born as Stanley Jacob Weinberg on November 25, 1890 in Brooklyn, New York. His parents could not afford college tuition. He worked mainly in nondescript jobs but on occasion ventured to become somebody in the higher social ladder.

In 1910, Weyman's first imposture was as US consul representative to Morocco who dined in the finest restaurants of New York City. He was eventually arrested for fraud.

Next Weyman took a role of both a military attaché from Serbia and a US Navy lieutenant so the identities could use each other as a reference. He was soon caught.

Weyman was released the second time in 1915. He then became Lt Commander Ethan Allen Weinberg, consul general for Romania. He inspected the USS Wyoming and invited everyone to a dinner in the Astor Hotel. The advance publicity alerted the Bureau of Investigation and federal agents arrested him at the party. He was heard to complain that they should have waited until dessert. He got a year in jail.

In 1917 he took the mantle of Royal St. Cyr, a lieutenant in the Army Air Corps. He was arrested when he was on an inspection tour in the Brooklyn armory because a suspicious military tailor had alerted the police.

Weyman was paroled in 1920. Shortly afterwards he forged credentials to become a company doctor in Lima, Peru. There he threw lavish parties until his credit ran out and he was arrested.

In 1921 he noticed Princess Fatima of Afghanistan who was visiting the US and was trying to get an official recognition. The US State Department mainly ignored her. Weyman visited her as a State Department Naval Liaison Officer, apologized for the oversight and promised to arrange an appointment with the president. He managed to convince the princess to give him $10,000 for "presents" to State Department officials. He used the money for a private railway carriage to Washington, D.C. and an opulent hotel room in the Willard Hotel for the princess and his entourage.

Weyman proceeded to visit the State Department, dropped names of prominent senators and succeeded in getting the appointment, first with Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes, and on July 26, 1921 president Warren G. Harding received Princess Fatima. Weyman's minor mistakes in the protocol aroused some suspicion, but when the press released his picture alongside the other dignitaries, the jig was up. He was indicted for impersonating a naval officer and sentenced to two years in jail.

In one case the Evening Graphic newspaper called for Weyman to get an interview with the visiting Queen Marie of Romania. He gained admittance as the Secretary of State and the paper got its interview.

In 1926 Weyman appeared at Rudolph Valentino's funeral and attached himself to his grieving lover Pola Negri as a personal physician. He issued regular press releases on her condition and established a faith-healing clinic in Valentino's house. Pola Negri did not condemn him after he was exposed.

During World War II Weyman was sentenced for seven years in prison for offering advice to draft dodgers—he told them to feign various medical conditions.

In 1948 Weyman made up credentials to become a journalist for the United Nations at Lake Success. He got acquainted with the delegates Warren Austin and Andrei Gromyko. His comeuppance came when the Thai delegation invited him to become their press officer with full diplomatic accreditation. Weyman contacted the State Department and asked whether it would affect his US citizenship. They already knew him all too well and exposed him.

In 1954 Weyman tried to get a $5,000 home improvement loan for a house that did not exist. He failed to convince the judge that he was insane.

In August 1960, Weyman was fatally shot when he tried to stop a robbery in a New York hotel where he was working as a night porter. The investigating detective said "I've known about the man's past record for years. He did a lot of things in the course of his life, but what he did this time was brave."

Thailand–United States relations

Bilateral relations between the Kingdom of Thailand and the United States of America date back to 1818. Thailand and the United States have long been close allies and diplomatic partners.

According to a 2012 Gallup public opinion poll, 60 percent of Thais approved of U.S. leadership under the Obama Administration, with 14 percent disapproving and 26 percent uncertain. As of 2013, there were 7314 international students of Thai origin studying in the United States, representing 0.9 percent of all foreigners pursuing higher education in America. According to a 2014 Global Opinion Poll, 73 percent of Thais have a favorable view of the U.S.

Timeline of United States diplomatic history

The diplomatic history of the United States oscillated among three positions: isolation from diplomatic entanglements of other (typically European) nations (but with economic connections to the world); alliances with European and other military partners; and unilateralism, or operating on its own sovereign policy decisions. The US always was large in terms of area, but its population was small, only 4 million in 1790. Population growth was rapid, reaching 7.2 million in 1810, 32 million in 1860, 76 million in 1900, 132 million in 1940, and 316 million in 2013. Economic growth in terms of overall GDP was even faster. However, the nation's military strength was quite limited in peacetime before 1940.

Brune (2003) and Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., ed. The Almanac of American History (1983) have specifics for many incidents

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.