Passport check in counter with windows labeled by number.

What is a U.S. Consulate?

The United States has only one embassy and ambassador in the capital of a foreign country. In large countries, the United States may have several consulates in addition to the embassy. Consulates provide many of the same services and carry out the same official functions as the embassy, but on a smaller scale. Consulates are usually located in other large cities within the host country. A consul general leads the consulate.

Consulates follow the lead of the ambassador in the host country. This ensures that across the country, the United States has a unified approach to its foreign policy goals. Because of their location, consulates might take the lead on a certain foreign policy goal. This means that while the embassy devises policies, diplomats from the consulate may carry out more of the work on the ground.

Consulates provide passports, birth registrations, and many other services for visiting or resident American citizens in a country. They also issue visas for foreign citizens to visit, study, and work in the United States. Consulates also work with U.S. and foreign law enforcement agencies to combat international crime, verify records, and track human rights abuses.