Some people think that a consulate, an embassy and a chancellery are the same. However, they are separate bodies that carry out several important functions for a country. In this article, we explain the differences between each of them and we give you some definitions and examples.

Below you have an index with all the points that we are going to deal with in this article.

Article Index

What is the difference between consulate, embassy and chancery?


The embassy is the highest-ranking diplomatic mission and therefore the most important. It is the official representation of one country in another. Among its functions are those of safeguarding the interests of its State, promoting relations and development activities between both territories and organizing State visits.

A diplomatic mission is any type of permanent representation that a State has in another country.

The top leader is the ambassador, so it is the person who is in charge of protecting the interests of his country in the State in which he is located. It is the intermediary between the two governments.

Also, the term embassy it also usually encompasses the offices and residence of the ambassador. There is only one embassy headquarters in each country, which is usually found in the capital.

On the other hand, the concept concurrent embassy refers to an embassy that is in one country but acts before several. For example, in Santiago, Chile, we find the Embassy of Thailand, which is concurrent in Panama, Costa Rica and El Salvador, since there is no Thai embassy in their territories.


A consulate or consular office is another representation of a country in a territory. However, the main difference with an embassy is that, in addition to being of lower rank, it cares about the fellow citizens who are living in that foreign country.

Therefore, the main functions performed by a consulate and its highest representative, the consul, are the following:

  • Renew or issue passports and other official documents
  • Help detainees
  • Give important information
  • Assist in the face of a catastrophe or emergency
  • Process visas and permits for foreign citizens

Unlike embassies, there may be several consulates in the same territory and they are usually located in the main cities. The consulate general is the most important, while the honorary consulate or consular agency has limited powers.

Similarly, an honorary consul or to honor is a person who does not usually have the nationality of the country for which he exercises, so he is limited to performing certain functions. The person to whom a consul usually delegates is called consular agent.

There is talk of mobile consulate o itinerant when several people from the consulate go to work in other cities of the country where they are to make it easier for citizens to use their services.

On many occasions, inside the embassies we find a consular section, so that in that part of the embassy the functions that we have indicated above are carried out.

If you are living abroad, you can formalize the consular registration or registration. In this way, you can access different services such as renewing your passport or voting remotely.


The word chancellery it can have different meanings depending on the country in which we are located. In the case of Spain, the chancellery refers to the place where the embassy or consulate offices are located, or it is a special office that is within them.

As for the chancellor, he is the chief of staff of the embassy or consulate. Unlike the figures seen above, this one is not diplomatic in nature.

Likewise, in a large part of the Latin American countries, such as Colombia, Peru or Argentina, it is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In this case, it is the person on whom all ambassadors depend.

On the other hand, in Germany, the chancellor is the head of government. It was previously called imperial chancellor and actually federal chancellor. Behind him is the vice chancellor.

Questions from users

What is the CAS of the American embassy?

In the United States embassies, the CAS is the Applicants Service Center. It is where you have to go to apply for a visa for this country.

What is MEXITEL?

MEXITEL is a service offered in Mexican embassies and consulates so that Mexicans can request a consular registration or the issuance of an official document.

What are special diplomatic missions?

They are temporary agreements for a State to carry out a diplomatic mission in a third country, always with the consent of the latter.

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