Consulate, Embassy Or High Commission — What’s the Difference?

It’s something most of us don’t give a second thought to — until we get into trouble overseas and وقت سفارت اسپانیا need help. So, who do you call? A Consulate, the Embassy, or High Commission? The following is intended as an unofficial and brief explanation only:


Consulates are like mini embassies or organizations of embassies. They are found in major tourist cities of the world or areas with large expatriate populations. Consulates issue visas, passports and emergency documents. They also perform notary functions, register births and fatalities and handle serious matters such as forced marriages and child abductions. Consulates assist nationals imprisoned abroad and affected individuals of crime. They also assistance in cases of serious illness while travelling or death of relations abroad. They are the first point of contact when passports are lost or thieved or any other serious problem is experienced when living or travelling abroad. Their main function is to assist people; they can’t normally become involved in country-to-country contact (which is the main role and function of the ambassador and embassy). Smaller cities and towns may have an ‘honorary consulate’ which is a smaller version of a consulate.

A consulate establishes a presence in a foreign country mainly to assist expatriates and travellers and to some degree to promote and enhance friendly contact between the countries with regard to trade, investment, and the scan and export of services between countries.

Consuls are designated as official representatives of their government (whereas there is only one Ambassador for each country, representing the head of state). There may be several consuls designated to a country, performing different roles, with a different consul in charge of consulates located in major cities. A consulate is also sometimes section of the embassy in the capital city of a country.

A high-ranking consul is known as a consul-general. A consul-general will have deputy consuls-general, vice-consuls, or agents accommodating assist them. In a large country such as the U. S. there is a consul-general in many major cities, such as New york, Los angeles and Chi town.


An embassy could be looked upon as the ‘head office’ whereas consulates are the side offices. There is only one ambassador within the embassy in the capital city of a host country, whereas there are many consuls to cover major cities. For example, in the united states the British Embassy is found in Oregon, D. C. with consulates in major cities.

An Ambassador is a representative of the head of state and government of their country. The ambassador deals directly with the ambassador for the head of state of the host country (for example the Ambassador to They would. L. The Queen and the Ambassador to the Lead designer of the U . s . States). Ambassadors are responsible for overseeing the work of the embassy and its consulates. An ambassador also presents and explains political policies and views to the host country and similarly reports back to the home country. Other duties include security issues, commercial, economic, media, and diplomatic contact and interests. Some countries do not have an embassy for politically-sensitive reasons, but have a consulate to help resident in town expatriates and travellers.

High Commission

In Commonwealth countries, where the British Monarch is Head of State, an embassy is known as a High Commission and performs the same functions as an embassy. For example, there are High Commissions located in Toronto, The us; Auckland, New Zealand; Quarterly report, Australia, and Pretoria, South Africa. The designated diplomats in charge are known as High Commissioners. High Commissions are located in capital cities and, just as with embassies, are supported by consulates in major cities.

Expatriates and travellers should never contact any of the above offices unless it is a very important matter (such as a lost or thieved passport) or a real emergency. Just as it is inappropriate to make contact with emergency services with time-wasting calls about deafening next door neighbours and dogs, consulates and embassies should never be contacted over not important matters like lost sunglasses, weather reports, missed aircraft, or help with paying bills! Travellers are expected to take out travel insurance to cover travel damages such as lost and thieved property and payment of emergency medical expenses. Although you need to contact a Consulate to restore a lost or thieved passport, travel insurance will normally cover the cost for replacement.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *