What does a consulate do?

Nigar Bayramgizi 24 April 2021 104 views 5 min. read

Mutual diplomatic relations among the countries of the world enhance day by day.  At the same time, this interaction is not so simple. Today, this inarticulate interaction demands strong diplomatic offices to help build a healthy international relationship and promote the interests of the home and foreign country in which it is presently residing. These diplomatic offices are embassies and consulates. There I would like to mention that a structure of diplomatic relations among independent countries is defined by an international treaty, The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961. Ambassadors represent their countries abroad in issues among the two states, so it should be considered that the level of assistance which they propose can be changeable. In some places, there can be very limited assistance. For example, when you lose or damage your passport, British embassies and consulates cannot create a new passport for you; instead, they can arrange emergency travel documents. In this little blog, we will talk about the functions of consulates. First of all, I would like to emphasize the differences between the embassies and consulates. These two words are often used instead of each other because both have a common main duty: to offer assistance to national citizens abroad. However, these are two separate and different organizations.

What is an embassy

consulate building

An embassy, the foundation for a country’s diplomatic mission abroad (all of the political, cultural, and social relationships among the states), which generally located in a capital city, is responsible for representing the home country, solving all diplomatic issues, and protecting the rights of citizens in a foreign country. The reason why are embassies in the capital is to make them easily accessible to their citizens in emergency cases like a war. The person in charge, who is called the ambassador, is the personal representative of the head of the state sending the mission to the host country. Ambassadors can be sent to numerous various countries. An embassy in touch directly with the office of the home country’s office and their roles obtain transmitting messages between two countries. It gives information to its government about the significant political, economic, and social decisions that can positively or negatively influence the relationship between two states. It supervises the preparation of international treaties and organizes state visits. An embassy magnifies the culture of its homeland by holding several festivals and trade fairs. The military partnership between the home country and the host country is overseen by an embassy, too.

What is a consulate

red reisepass

According to a mutual agreement, a consulate is a diplomatic mission created between the countries, a smaller version of an embassy. Its location is usually the largest touristic city of countries, but not the capital.  For instance, In Germany, consulates and embassies of the U.S are in cities such as Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Munich, but the embassy is located in Berlin. As it is known from that sentence, there can be several consulates in one city, but there can be some special cases. For example, Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, maintains a lot of consulates. The essential difference between an embassy and a consulate is that the ambassador represents the president, which means that the host country can only have one ambassador and one embassy. After general information about the differences between consulate and embassy, I would like to start writing about the functions of a consulate.

Functions of Consulates

meeting

First, consulates have their chief diplomat, the consul. Today, it is difficult to determine the exact model of consular duties and functions because they have been already based on international law and customs, treaties, national laws, and consular instructions. Also, the functions of a consul may be different from case to case because of the needs of times and circumstances of each situation. They accomplish minor diplomatic issues like issuing visas, aiding in trade relationships, and taking care of migrants, tourists, and expatriates, providing aid in getting medical and legal assistance, notarizing documents, assisting tax returns and absentee voting, making arrangements in the event of the death, registering births to nationals abroad, certifying marriages and divorces abroad (but not performing), providing information on dealing with host country authorities, and organizing for evacuation or other assistance in emergencies. Some consulates their community liaison officer usually referred to as “CLO,” who maintains contact with national living in the area. It may probably be a part-time position filled by the spouse of a consulate official, but the CLO can be very important and helpful to get to know. An embassy abroad establishes a consular department and appoints a consul representing the country in the foreign area. Consulates do not have the right to provide travel, legal, employment, or interpreting services. Also, they cannot get a national citizen who has cross out host country laws out of jail, but they can press local authorities to ensure fair treatment and access to legal representation. So, international agreements that are in effect in most countries require people from abroad who are arrested for being allowed to contact their consular officer. Providing bank or post office services, services of funeral companies, accommodation or hotel services acting as a lawyer, investigator or law enforcement officer, lending or otherwise giving money, hiring a lawyer, or paying a bill are also among things that consulate cannot do.

man writing at desk

As I mentioned above, one of the essential works of the consulate is actively evolving enormous relationships and friendly contact between the host and home countries. This diplomatic mission can do it by using distinguish legal channels. Also, the consulate can propagate state which is represented in different areas by using legal facilities; get appropriate information about the condition of the home country in the fields of economy, trade, science and technology, culture, and others. The activities of consulates that I mentioned above can help the home country gain mutual understanding among other foreign countries.

The issuance of passports and visas is one of the most important functions of consulates. The consular staff has the right to issue, exchange, or renew documents of citizens and issue visas. At that point, I would like to emphasize the comfort of this process in Azerbaijan. There is an online platform that provides great flexible services in gaining trip visas like travel, education, and business. If you want to know, this platform is pickvisa.com.

Consulates are responsible for preserving the legal rights and interests of citizens. When legal interests such as security of personality, property rights are violated or incur discrimination taking all necessary measures for protecting them and negotiate at the right time are part of the duties of consulates. Also, they can demand punishing criminals, apologizing, and so on.

meeting hall

I would like to talk about making a Public appearance which a consul realizes. One of the essential roles of a consul is to create a public appearance that helps to enlarge diplomatic contacts with host countries. As an example, we can say that representatives may visit the opening of the children’s hospital and offer to fulfill unmet needs in the local area. The consul may be asked to speak and promise to support her/his home country to the public.

One of the responsibilities of a consulate is linking services that help connect foreign visitors from their home country with businesses from their national origin. The need for this service can be more valuable than it first appears. Imagine a French citizen who visits the United States and cannot eat something forms a foreign kitchen. At this time, the French consul general can provide the citizen with necessary information on Local French restaurants.

One of the consulate duties is to provide citizens of home countries with the necessary information such as military processes and ensure their security.

passport and ticket

In my opinion, one great and chief responsibility of a consular is organizing initiatives. What is it? It can help to strengthen ties to his host community and his fellow nationals. It can include creating scholarship opportunities for students or social services from the homeland. The consul may also help organize electoral commissions to allow foreign nationals to participate in elections in their home country while abroad.

Protecting the interests of citizens of the home country who are not fully capable of working is among the responsibilities of a consulate. Especially, it is important when guardianship is demanded about those people.

Consulates also can control and inspect in attitude about the ships and planes of home countries.

I think it is clear that, in general, the security of the citizens of a particular country almost depends on consulates in the host country. So, if we know our rights and obligations and obey the law in any case, we can travel more safely abroad in all walks of life.

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