What Is the Difference Between a Consulate & an Embassy?

Countries have both embassies and consulates in other countries. An ambassador at an embassy deals with the other nation's government, while a consul deals with individuals.

  1. Consuls Assist Individuals

    • Consuls assist individuals, deciding whether to issue visas or assisting its own nationals. For example, the American Consul in Guangzhou will decide approve or deny applications for visas that Chinese citizens make when they want to travel to the U.S. It also assists American citizens who are arrested in Guangzhou or the area surrounding it, or renews passports for American citizens in the area.

    Consuls Promote Relations

    • Consuls promote social, economic and cultural exchange between the two countries. The consul hosts events that attempt to bring people from the two countries together. For example, the American Consulate in Guangzhou, China, hosts an event where athletes from the two countries get together to celebrate International Women's Day. The Consul in Melbourne, Australia works with the American Consul to bring an American entertainer to Melbourne.


    • Ambassadors, on the other hand, do not deal with individuals, but with the government of the other country. The Ambassador negotiates with the other country's representatives at the government level.


    • The Embassy and the Consul may be in the same building, but they are different offices. In each country, there is only one embassy, but there may be several consulates. For example, in China the American Embassy is in Beijing, the Chinese capital. There is a consular office in Beijing, but there are also other consuls in other cities: Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenyang and Wuhan.


    • The Ambassador may attend or support events that the Consul may have to promote trade and friendship between the two countries.

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