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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Consulates and embassies

Embassies, consulates and high commissions represent the UK in other countries through the British consul. Find out how the British consul works to protect the interests of UK nationals and dual nationals abroad. You can also find out how to find a British embassy or consulate.

What diplomatic missions are called

Diplomatic missions are always in capital cities of countries. In a Commonwealth country, a diplomatic mission is known as a 'high commission'. In a non-Commonwealth country, it is known as an 'embassy'.

Consular missions can be found elsewhere in a country. A consular mission may also be known, depending upon its importance, as a:

  • consulate-general
  • consulate
  • vice-consulate
  • consular agency

What the British consul does

The main work of a British consul is to protect the interests of UK nationals. Consular staff can offer practical advice, help and support. Their typical work includes:

  • issuing passports and emergency passports
  • registering births and deaths
  • handling cases of child abduction and forced marriage
  • helping Britons who have been detained or imprisoned, fallen ill or been the victim of a crime

They also use their local knowledge to assess the risks to UK nationals.

Help for dual nationals

If you're a dual national, the help you can get from a British consul depends on what passport you're travelling on and where you're travelling.

If you're travelling:

  • on your British passport in a third country (of which you are not a national), the British consul can offer you full support
  • on the passport of your other nationality, you should normally go to that state's embassy, high commission or consulate
  • in the state of your other nationality, the British consul would not usually become involved, unless there was a special humanitarian reason to do so

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