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Last updated at 12:42 (UK time) 14 Jan 2010

Honorary Consuls

Honorary Consuls are volunteers who help our Posts overseas provide a more accessible and responsive service to British nationals and other nationals for whom we have consular responsibility for, particularly in difficult to reach locations. 

They provide information and assistance to people who get into difficulties overseas.  They receive no salary from the FCO, but some are paid a small honorarium in recognition of their services, typically around £2000 p.a.  Their duties can be expected to occupy a few hours a week under ordinary circumstances.  They are typically appointed for a (renewable) five year period.

The Vienna Convention defines the difference between Honorary Consuls and career Consular Officers. Honorary Consuls do not benefit from the same privileges and immunities as diplomats and are not usually referred to as diplomats.  See articles 63-67 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

The function of the Honorary Consul falls into 3 main areas:

Consular work: British Nationals who find themselves in personal difficulties or have enquiries related to consular matters, will be able to receive direct assistance from the Honorary Consul.

Commercial work: The Honorary Consul can act as a link between British and local institutions and businesses, helping to develop cooperation and joint working between commercial and non-commercial organisations.  

Representation: At events and public functions the Honorary Consul will be able to act as a representative of the British Embassy.

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