Looking after citizens resident in the host country, issuing passports, and visas to visitors
A consulate is a small official office of a country situated in another country like Zambia. The main office is called an Embassy, usually found in the capital city. Consulates deal with questions about passports for their own citizens, visas for foreigners wanting to visit the consulate's home country, and licences for import and export. Some larger and more important countries might also have Consulates General. These are simply bigger consulates that might do more than a smaller consulate. The person in charge is called a Consul, or Consul General. Consular officers have diplomatic immunity.
While some countries just have only one embassy and one ambassador in the capital of any foreign country, in large countries they may have several consulates.
Consulates follow the lead of the Ambassador in engaging local government, civil society and other organisations to address mission priorities. In many instances, consulates, because of their location within a country, may serve as the primary actor in achieving one priority or another. So while the Embassy may place great importance on developmental projects, the main work with the local population will be done by officers in a Consulate.
Functions of Consulates
- Issuing of passports
- Birth registration for visiting or resident citizens in a country
- Visa issuance for foreign citizens to visit, study or work in the country
- They also work with foreign law enforcement agencies to combat international crime
- Safeguarding the fair and equal treatment of nationals within the receiving State, if applicable
- Transmitting judicial and extrajudicial documents or executing letters rogatory in accordance with the laws and regulations of the receiving State
- Helping and assisting helpless nationals
- Provide assistance to detainees: notify their arrest to their family should the detainee so request, periodically visit, deliver and take messages and correspondence.
- Coordinating with the Embassy, a Consulate also conducts commercial, information, education, and exchange programmes to develop business partners and potential customers
- Working with the media and public entities to explain their country’s policy, and encourage academic, scientific and artistic exchanges
- Foreign citizens can go to a Consultae to learn about the country through printed and online media
What Consulates are not able to do
- Renew or issue National Identity Documents
- Perform travel agency functions
- Look for a job for you abroad
- In the event of arrest or hospitalisation, guarantee you better treatment than that offered to nationals of the country
- Offer collateral, lend money or pay fines
- Personally provide you with an individual to act as your interpreter, guide or social assistant
- Guarantee your entry into the country
- Act on your behalf in legal proceedings or provide you with legal opinions