In this entry of the Diversity Dictionary we ask ‘what is an embassy?’ and explain what they are, what they do and how they enable travellers to cross borders across the globe.
An embassy is a building or compound that represents a nations government in another country. Within every embassy is an ambassador, diplomats and other staff that represent the interests of their country abroad.
Embassy duties include:
- Acting as an agent for visiting state citizens
- Developing friendly relations with the host country
- Conducting diplomatic activity on behalf of their home government
Embassies are always located in another country’s capital and are often marvelous examples of culturally representative architecture. The United Kingdom currently has 165 embassies (also known as diplomatic missions). Check out this list of Londons most popular foreign embassies and see them for yourself when you next visit!
For travellers, an embassy is where they can go for advice, to resolve travel related issues and obtain passports and travel visas. Therefore, they serve as the contact point between visitors and the host nation. Visiting an embassy is an essential step for gaining access to another country for an extended amount of time.
The British Embassy in Berlin. Photo credit to Jean-Pierre Dalbéra.
Each embassy and its grounds is a sovereign territory – which means that it is an extension of its nation state and immune to local laws. Even politicians from the host country cannot enter embassy premises without an invite first! However, having an embassy in a foreign country is generally an indicator of a good relationship between two nations.
You can find a full directory of embassies, contact information and travel advice in our Visa Database
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