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Consular immunity privileges are described in the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963 (VCCR).[1][2] Consular immunity offers protections similar to diplomatic immunity, but these protections are not as extensive, given the functional differences between consular and diplomatic officers. For example, consular officers are not accorded absolute immunity from a host country’s criminal jurisdiction, they may be tried for certain local crimes upon action by a local court, and are immune from local jurisdiction only in cases directly relating to consular functions.

Consular and diplomatic immunity in the US

Category May be arrested or detained Residence may be entered subject to ordinary procedures May be issued traffic ticket May be subpoenaed as witness May be prosecuted for unofficial acts Official family member
Diplomatic Diplomatic agent No[a] No Yes No No Same as sponsor
Member of administrative and technical staff No[a] No Yes No No Same as sponsor
Service staff Yes[b] Yes Yes Yes Yes[b] No[b]
Consular Career consular officers Yes, if for a felony and pursuant to a warrant.[b] Yes[c] Yes No, for official acts. Testimony may not be compelled in any case. Yes[d] No[b]
Honorary consular officers Yes Yes Yes No, for official acts. Yes, in all other cases Yes No
Consular employees Yes[b] Yes Yes No, for official acts. Yes, in all other cases Yes[b] No[b]
International organization Diplomatic-level staff of missions to international organizations No[a] No Yes No No Same as sponsor
International organization staff[d] Yes[d] Yes[d] Yes No, for official acts. Yes, in all other cases Yes[d] No[b]
Support staff of missions to international organizations Yes Yes Yes No, for official acts. Yes, in all other cases Yes No
  1. ^ a b c Reasonable constraints, however, may be applied in emergency circumstances involving self-defense, public safety, or the prevention of serious criminal acts.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i This table presents general rules. Particularly in the cases indicated, the employees of certain foreign countries may enjoy higher levels of privileges and immunities on the basis of special bilateral agreements.
  3. ^ Note that consular residences are sometimes located within the official consular premises. In such cases, only the official office space is protected from police entry.
  4. ^ a b c d e A small number of senior officers are entitled to be treated identically to "diplomatic agents".


Procedurally, official acts immunity is raised as an affirmative defense.[3]

See also


  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-08-13. Retrieved 2011-02-17.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ [bare URL PDF]
  3. ^ Bureau of Diplomatic Security (July 2011). "Diplomatic and Consular Immunity: Guidance for Law Enforcement and Judicial Authorities" (PDF). US Department of State. p. 6. Retrieved 2013-12-30.