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Diplomatic rank is a system of professional and
social rank A social class is a set of concepts in the social sciences Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biolog ...
used in the world of
diplomacy Diplomacy is the practice of influencing the decisions and conduct of foreign governments or organizations through dialogue, negotiation, and other nonviolent means. Diplomacy usually refers to international relations carried out through the inte ...

diplomacy
and international relations. A diplomat's rank determines many ceremonial details, such as the
order of precedence An order of precedence is a sequential hierarchy of nominal importance and can be applied to individuals, groups, or organizations. Most often it is used in the context of people by many organizations and governments, for very formal and state o ...
at official processions, table seatings at state dinners, the person to whom
diplomatic credentials A letter of credence (french: Lettre de créance) is a formal Diplomatic correspondence, diplomatic letter that appoints a diplomat as ambassador (diplomacy), ambassador to another sovereign state. Commonly known as diplomatic credentials, the let ...
should be presented, and the title by which the diplomat should be addressed.


International diplomacy


Ranks

The current system of diplomatic ranks was established by the
Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 is an international treaty A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law and law ...

Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
(1961). There are three top ranks, two of which remain in use: * ''
Ambassador An ambassador is an official envoy, especially a high-ranking diplomat A diplomat (from grc, δίπλωμα; romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A langua ...

Ambassador
''. An ambassador is a
head of mission In diplomatic usage, head of mission (HOM) or chief of mission (COM) from the French "chef de mission diplomatique" (CMD) is the head of a diplomatic representation, such as an ambassador, High Commissioner, high commissioner, nuncio, chargé d'a ...
who is accredited to the receiving country's
head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role that one adopts, or a fictional ch ...
. They head a
diplomatic mission A diplomatic mission or foreign mission is a group of people from one state or an organization present in another state to represent the sending state or organization officially in the receiving state. In practice, the phrase ''diplomatic mi ...
known as an
embassy A diplomatic mission or foreign mission is a group of people from one state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (news ...

embassy
, headquartered in a
chancery Chancery may refer to: * Chancery (diplomacy), the building that houses a diplomatic mission, such as an embassy * Chancery (medieval office), a medieval writing office * Chancery (Scotland) (also called The office of Director of Chancery, or Chan ...
usually in the receiving state's
capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowercase (or more formally ''minusc ...
. ** A
papal nuncio An apostolic nuncio (also known as a papal nuncio or simply as a nuncio) is an ecclesiastical diplomat, serving as an envoy or a permanent diplomatic representative of the Holy See The Holy See ( lat, Sancta Sedes, ; it, Santa Sede ), a ...
is considered to have ambassadorial rank, and presides over a
nunciature An apostolic nunciature is a top-level diplomatic mission A diplomatic mission or foreign mission is a group of people from one state or an organization present in another state to represent the sending state or organization officially in ...
. **
Commonwealth countries The Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known simply as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 54 member states, almost all of which are former territorial evolution of the British Empire, territories of ...

Commonwealth countries
send a high commissioner who presides over a high commission and has the same diplomatic rank as an ambassador. * ''
Minister Minister may refer to: * Minister (Christianity)Image:LutheranClergy.JPG, upA Lutheran minister wearing a Geneva gown and Bands (neckwear), bands. In many churches, ministers wear distinctive clothing, called vestments, when presiding over service ...
''. A minister was a
head of mission In diplomatic usage, head of mission (HOM) or chief of mission (COM) from the French "chef de mission diplomatique" (CMD) is the head of a diplomatic representation, such as an ambassador, High Commissioner, high commissioner, nuncio, chargé d'a ...
who was accredited to the receiving country's government. A minister headed a
legation A legation was a diplomatic representative office of lower rank than an embassy A diplomatic mission or foreign mission is a group of people from one state or an organization present in another state to represent the sending state or organi ...
rather than an embassy. After World War II, the embassy became the standard form of diplomatic mission, and the rank of minister is now obsolete. Many countries use the title minister-counsellor to refer to the deputy head of a mission, but does not hold the rank of minister. ** An envoy or an internuncio is also considered to have the rank of minister. * ''
Chargé d'affaires A ''chargé d'affaires'' (), plural ''chargés d'affaires'', often shortened to ''chargé'' (French) and sometimes in colloquial English to ''charge-D'', is a diplomat A diplomat (from grc, δίπλωμα; romanized Romanization or romani ...
'': ** A chargé d'affaires ''en pied'' is a permanent
head of mission In diplomatic usage, head of mission (HOM) or chief of mission (COM) from the French "chef de mission diplomatique" (CMD) is the head of a diplomatic representation, such as an ambassador, High Commissioner, high commissioner, nuncio, chargé d'a ...
who is accredited by their country's
foreign minister A foreign affairs minister or minister of foreign affairs (less commonly minister for foreign affairs) is generally a in charge of a 's and . The formal title of the top official varies between countries. In the United States it is "Secretar ...
to the receiving nation's foreign minister, in cases where the two governments have not reached an agreement to exchange ambassadors. ** A chargé d'affaires ''ad interim'' is a diplomat who temporarily heads a diplomatic mission in the absence of an ambassador. The body of diplomats accredited to a country form the
diplomatic corps alt=Plaque of Diplomatic Corps Logo, Diplomatic corps plaque used on some embassies and diplomatic missions The diplomatic corps (french: corps diplomatique) is the collective body of foreign diplomat A diplomat (from grc, δίπλωμα; romani ...
. Ambassadors have precedence over chargés, and precedence within each rank is determined by the date on which
diplomatic credentials A letter of credence (french: Lettre de créance) is a formal Diplomatic correspondence, diplomatic letter that appoints a diplomat as ambassador (diplomacy), ambassador to another sovereign state. Commonly known as diplomatic credentials, the let ...
were presented. The longest-serving ambassador is the
dean of the diplomatic corps The diplomatic corps (french: corps diplomatique) is the collective body of foreign diplomat A diplomat (from grc, δίπλωμα; romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study o ...
, who speaks for the entire diplomatic corps on matters of diplomatic privilege and protocol. In many Catholic countries, the
papal nuncio An apostolic nuncio (also known as a papal nuncio or simply as a nuncio) is an ecclesiastical diplomat, serving as an envoy or a permanent diplomatic representative of the Holy See The Holy See ( lat, Sancta Sedes, ; it, Santa Sede ), a ...
is always considered the dean of the diplomatic corps.


Historical ranks, 1815–1961

The ranks established by the Vienna Convention (1961) modify a more elaborate system of ranks that was established by the
Congress of Vienna The Congress of Vienna (, ) of 1814–1815 was an international diplomatic conference to reconstitute the European political order after the downfall of the French Emperor Napoleon I Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) w ...

Congress of Vienna
(1815): * ''
Ambassador An ambassador is an official envoy, especially a high-ranking diplomat A diplomat (from grc, δίπλωμα; romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A langua ...

Ambassador
s'', legates, and nuncios were personal representatives of their sovereign. * '' Envoys'' and ministers represented their government, and were accredited to the receiving sovereign. * '' Ministers resident'' formed an intermediate class, between ministers and chargés. This rank was created by the
Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle (1818) The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle, held in the autumn of 1818, was a high-level diplomatic meeting of France and the four allied powers Britain, Austria, Prussia, and Russia which had defeated it in 1814. The purpose was to decide the withdrawal of th ...
* '' Chargés d'affaires'' were accredited by their foreign minister to the receiving foreign minister. The rank of ''envoy'' was short for "envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary", and was more commonly known as "minister". For example, the ''envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the United States to the French Empire" was known as the "
United States Minister to France The United States Ambassador to France is the official representative of the President of the United States to the President of France. The United States has maintained diplomatic relations with France since the American Revolution The Am ...
" and addressed as "Monsieur le Ministre". An Ambassador was regarded as the personal representative of his sovereign as well as his government. Only major monarchies would exchange Ambassadors with each other, while smaller monarchies and republics only sent Ministers. Because of diplomatic reciprocity, Great Powers would only send a minister to a smaller monarchy or a republic. For example, in the waning years of the
Second French Empire The Second French Empire (; officially the French Empire, ), was the 18-year regime of from 14 January 1852 to 4 September 1870, between the and the , in France. Historians in the 1930s and 1940s often disparaged the Second Empire as a p ...

Second French Empire
, the United Kingdom sent an ambassador to Paris, while
Sweden-Norway Sweden and Norway or Sweden–Norway ( sv, Svensk-norska unionen; no, Den svensk-norske union(en)), officially the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway, and known as the United Kingdoms, was a personal union A personal union is the comb ...
and the United States sent ministers. The rule that only monarchies could send ambassadors was more honored in the breach than the observance. This had been true even before the Congress of Vienna, as England continued to appoint ambassadors after becoming a republic in 1649. Countries that overthrew their monarchs proved to be unwilling to accept the lower rank accorded to a republic. After the
Franco-Prussian War The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War,, german: Deutsch-Französischer Krieg often referred to in France as the War of 1870, was a conflict between the Second French Empire (later the Third French Republic) and the North German Confeder ...
, the
French Third Republic The French Third Republic (french: Troisième République, sometimes written as ) was the system of government adopted in History of France, France from 4 September 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed during the Franco-Prussian War, ...
continued to send and receive ambassadors. The rule became increasingly untenable as the United States grew into a Great Power. The United States followed the French precedent in 1893, and began to exchange ambassadors with other Great Powers. Historically, the
order of precedence An order of precedence is a sequential hierarchy of nominal importance and can be applied to individuals, groups, or organizations. Most often it is used in the context of people by many organizations and governments, for very formal and state o ...
had been a matter of great dispute. European powers agreed that the
papal nuncio An apostolic nuncio (also known as a papal nuncio or simply as a nuncio) is an ecclesiastical diplomat, serving as an envoy or a permanent diplomatic representative of the Holy See The Holy See ( lat, Sancta Sedes, ; it, Santa Sede ), a ...
and
imperial Imperial is that which relates to an empire, emperor, or imperialism. Imperial or The Imperial may also refer to: Places United States * Imperial, California * Imperial, Missouri * Imperial, Nebraska * Imperial, Pennsylvania * Imperial, Texas * ...
ambassador would have precedence, but could not agree on the relative precedence of the kingdoms and smaller countries. In 1768, the French and Russian ambassadors to Great Britain even fought a
duel A duel is an arranged engagement in combat between two people, with matched weapons, in accordance with agreed-upon rules Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political Politics (from , ) is the set of activit ...

duel
over who had the right to sit next to the imperial ambassador at a court ball. After several diplomatic incidents between their ambassadors, France and Spain agreed in 1761 to let the date of arrival determine their precedence. In 1760, Portugal attempted to apply seniority to all ambassadors, but the rule was rejected by the other European courts. The Congress of Vienna finally put an end to these disputes over precedence. After an initial attempt to divide countries into three ranks faltered on the question of which country should be in each rank, the Congress instead decided to divide ''diplomats'' into three ranks. A fourth rank was added by the
Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle (1818) The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle, held in the autumn of 1818, was a high-level diplomatic meeting of France and the four allied powers Britain, Austria, Prussia, and Russia which had defeated it in 1814. The purpose was to decide the withdrawal of th ...
. Each diplomatic rank had precedence over the lower ranks, and precedence within each rank was determined by the date that their
credentials A credential is a piece of any document that details a qualification, competence, or authority issued to an individual by a third party with a relevant or ''de facto'' authority or assumed competence to do so. Examples of credentials include aca ...
were presented. The papal nuncio could be given a different precedence than the other ambassadors. The
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
had ceased to exist in 1806, so the Austrian ambassador would accumulate seniority along with the other ambassadors.


Bilateral diplomacy

In modern diplomatic practice, there are a number of diplomatic ranks below Ambassador. Since most missions are now headed by an ambassador, these ranks now rarely indicate a mission's (or its host nation's) relative importance, but rather reflect the diplomat's individual seniority within their own nation's diplomatic career path and in the diplomatic corps in the host nation: *Ambassador (High Commissioner in
Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existenc ...

Commonwealth
missions to other Commonwealth countries); ambassador at large *Minister *Minister-counsellor *Counsellor *First secretary *Second secretary *Third secretary *Attaché *Assistant attaché The term ''
attaché In diplomacy, an attaché is a person who is assigned ("to be attached") to the diplomatic or administrative staff of a higher placed person or another service or agency. Although a loanword A loanword (also loan word or loan-word) is a word In ...
'' is used for any diplomatic agent who does not fit in the standard diplomatic ranks, often because they are not (or were not traditionally) members of the sending country's diplomatic service or
foreign ministry A foreign affairs minister or minister of foreign affairs (less commonly minister for foreign affairs) is generally a cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawer ...
, and were therefore only "attached" to the diplomatic mission. The most frequent use is for
military attaché A military attaché In diplomacy, an attaché is a person who is assigned ("to be attached") to the diplomatic or administrative staff of a higher placed person or another service or agency. Although a loanword A loanword (also loan word or loan- ...
s, but the diplomatic title may be used for any specific individual or position as required, generally related to a specific or technical field. Since administrative and technical staff benefit from only limited
diplomatic immunity Diplomatic immunity is a form of legal immunity Legal immunity, or immunity from prosecution, is a legal status wherein an individual or entity cannot be held liable for a violation of the law, in order to facilitate societal aims that outwei ...
, some countries may routinely appoint support staff as attachés. Attaché does not, therefore, denote any rank or position (except in Soviet and post-Soviet diplomatic services, where attaché is the lowest diplomatic rank of a career diplomat). Note that many traditional functionary roles, such as
press attaché In marketing Marketing refers to activities a company A company, abbreviated as co., is a Legal personality, legal entity representing an association of people, whether Natural person, natural, Legal personality, legal or a mixture of both ...
or cultural attaché, are not formal titles in diplomatic practice, although they may be used as a matter of custom.


Multilateral diplomacy

Furthermore, outside this traditional pattern of bilateral diplomacy, as a rule on a permanent residency basis (though sometimes doubling elsewhere), certain ranks and positions were created specifically for multilateral diplomacy: *An ambassador-at-large is equivalent to an ambassador and assigned specific tasks or region in which they are assigned various assignments aimed at multi track diplomacy. *A
permanent representative A permanent representative is a diplomat A diplomat (from grc, δίπλωμα; romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of commu ...
is the equivalent of an ambassador, normally of that rank, but accredited to an international body (mainly by member—and possibly observer—states), not to a head of state. *A resident representative (or sometimes simply ''representative'') is also a member of the diplomatic corps, but is below the rank of ambassador. A representative is accredited by an international organization (generally a United Nations agency, or a Bretton Woods institution) to a country's government. The resident representative typically heads the country office of that international organization within that country. *A ''special ambassador or honorary ambassador'' is a government's specialist diplomat in a particular field, not posted in residence, but often traveling around the globe. *The U.S. trade representative (USTR) is an ambassador of Cabinet rank, in charge of U.S. delegations in multilateral trade negotiations (since 1962). The USTR's special agricultural negotiator also typically holds an ambassadorial appointment.


Special envoy

Special envoys have been created ''ad hoc'' by individual countries, treaties and international organizations including the United Nations. A few examples are provided below: * Belgium: In 2005, former cabinet member Pierre Chevalier served as ''Special Envoy of the
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the world's largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (refer ...
presidency'' to mediate in the
Gazprom PJSC Gazprom (russian: Газпром, ) is a Russian majority state-owned multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body f ...
natural gas-pipeline crisis involving Russia, Ukraine, and the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
. In addition,
Princess Astrid of Belgium Princess Astrid of Belgium, Archduchess of Austria-Este (born 5 June 1962), is the second child and first daughter of Albert II of the Belgians, King Albert II and Queen Paola of Belgium, Queen Paola, and younger sister to the current Belgian mo ...
has served as ''Special Envoy of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention or
Ottawa Treaty The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, known informally as the Ottawa Treaty, the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, or often simply the Mine Ban Tre ...
,'' to promote the formal prohibition of
landmines A land mine is an explosive weapon, explosive device concealed under or on the ground and designed to destroy or disable enemy targets, ranging from combatants to vehicles and tanks, as they pass over or near it. Such a device is typically de ...
and the rights of the survivors of said weapons. * India: During the 2006 democracy movement in Nepal, India sent on April 18
Karan Singh Maharajah Dr. Karan Singh (born 9 March 1931) is an Indian politician, philanthropist and poet. He belongs to the Jamwal Dogra Dynasty, and is the son of the late Maharaja Mahārāja ; (also spelled Maharajah, Maharaj) is a Sanskrit ti ...

Karan Singh
, who is related to royalty in both predominantly Hindu countries, as ''Special Envoy'' to neighbouring Nepal, where increasingly violent opposition started its successful challenge of the king's autocratic rule. Another instance was during the 2009 Copenhagen climate change summit, India appointed senior diplomat
Shyam Saran Amb. Shyam Saran (born 4 September 1946) is an Indian career diplomat. He joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1970 and rose to become the Foreign Secretary to the Government of India. Prior to his appointment as the Foreign Secretary he serve ...
as a special envoy to coordinate the negotiating position of the
BASIC countries The BASIC countries (also Basic countries or BASIC) are a bloc of four large newly industrialized countries – Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South ...
. * United Kingdom: Appointed special envoys from time to time. * European Union: appointed various ''special representatives'' (some regional, some thematic); e.g., in 2005—as a response to events in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan—the Council of the EU appointed Jan Kubis as its ''Special Representative for Central Asia''. * Pakistan: Prime Minister
Nawaz Sharif Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif ( ur, , born 25 December 1949) is a Pakistani businessman and politician who served as the prime minister of Pakistan for three non-consecutive terms. Sharif is the longest-serving prime minister of Pakistan having ...

Nawaz Sharif
appointed ambassador as Pakistan's special envoy for trade and investment based in the Gulf region with a diplomatic rank of an ambassador * United States: appointed numerous special envoys including a special envoy for Northern Ireland with the diplomatic rank of ambassador to help with the
Northern Ireland peace process The Northern Ireland peace process includes the events leading up to the 1994 Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire, the end of most of the violence of the Troubles, the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, and subsequent political developme ...
. Special envoys have also been appointed for
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...
,
Yemen ) , image_map = Yemen on the globe (Yemen centered).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Sana'a Sanaa ( ar, صَنْعَاء, ' , Yemeni Arabic: ; Old South Arabian: 𐩮 ...
, Sudan, Syria, Middle East peace, Eurasian energy, climate change, and human rights in North Korea. Other posts include special representative, special advisor, and special coordinator. * The
Secretary-General of the United Nations The secretary-general of the United Nations (UNSG or SG) is the chief administrative officer A chief administrative officer (CAO) is a top-tier executive who supervises the daily operations of an organization and is ultimately responsible for ...
personally mandates special envoys for a particular field, including: **
United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in AfricaThe United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa (abbreviated as UNAIDS) is a diplomatic position that deals with the deadly disease on the continent where the issue is most pressing. It conducts the world's most extensive data collection on H ...
**
United Nations Special Envoy on Climate Change There are currently three United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve internat ...
** United Nations Special Envoy for Kosovo ** United Nations Special Envoy for Darfur ** United Nations Special Envoy for Refugees * The
director-general of UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a List of specialized agencies of the United Nations, specialised agency of the U ...
appoints special envoys who can use their talents and renown to further the organization's ideals and action. Envoys include: ** Special Envoy for Basic and Higher Education Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al-Missned of Qatar ** Special Envoy for Water Prince
Talal bin Abdulaziz al Saud Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud ( ar, طلال بن عبد العزيز آل سعود ''Ṭalāl bin ʿAbdulʿazīz Āl Saʿūd''; 15 August 1931 – 22 December 2018), formerly also called The Red Prince, was a Saudi Arabian politician, dissident, b ...

Talal bin Abdulaziz al Saud
** Special Envoy on Literacy for Development
Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands (née ''Petra Laurentien Brinkhorst''; born 25 May 1966) is the wife of Prince Constantijn Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands (''Constantijn Christof Frederik Aschwin''; born 11 October 1969) is the th ...
* A ''
sui generis ''Sui generis'' ( , ) is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the ...
'' case is the
High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina The High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina,, abbreviated BiH or B&H, sometimes called Bosnia–Herzegovina and often known informally as Bosnia, is a country in South South is one of the cardinal directio ...
* The Australian
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade () (DFAT) is the department of the Australian federal government The Australian Government, also known as the Commonwealth Government, is the national government of Australia Australi ...
maintains a variety of special interest ambassador and envoy positions including the ambassador for counter-terrorism and the ambassador for the environment.


Usage worldwide

Most countries worldwide have some form of internal rank, roughly parallel to the diplomatic ranks, which are used in their
foreign serviceDiplomatic service is the body of diplomat A diplomat (from grc, δίπλωμα; romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect ...
or
civil service The civil service is a collective term for a sector of government composed mainly of career civil servants hired on professional merit rather than appointed or elected, whose institutional tenure typically survives transitions of political leader ...
in general. The correspondence is not exact, however, for various reasons, including the fact that according to diplomatic usage, all Ambassadors are of equal rank, but Ambassadors of more senior rank are typically sent to more important postings. Some countries may make specific links or comparisons to
military rank Military ranks are a system of hierarchy, hierarchical relationships, within an armed forces, police, intelligence agencies or other institutions organized along military lines. The military rank system defines dominance, authority, and respon ...
s.


Australia

Officers from the
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade () (DFAT) is the department of the Australian federal government The Australian Government, also known as the Commonwealth Government, is the national government of Australia Australi ...
(DFAT) are graded into four broad bands (BB1 to BB4), with the Senior Executive Service (SES Band 1 to SES Band 3) following above. Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Consuls-General usually come from the Senior Executive Service, although in smaller posts the head of mission may be a BB4 officer. Generally speaking (and there are variations in ranking and nomenclature between posts and positions), Counsellors are represented by BB4 officers; Consuls and First and Second Secretaries are BB3 officers and Third Secretaries and Vice Consuls are BB2 officers. DFAT only posts a limited number of low-level BB1 staff abroad. In large an SES officer who is not the head of mission could be posted with the rank of Minister.


Brazil

The Brazilian Foreign Service (''Serviço Exterior Brasileiro'') is made up of three careers: the Diplomat Career, the Chancery Officer Career and the Chancery Assistant Career.
* Assistente de Chancelaria (''Chancery Assistants / Attaché'') are career civil servants with a minimum high-school degree who provide technical and administrative support in Brazil and in Brazilian representations abroad. * Oficial de Chancelaria (''Chancery Officers / Attaché'') are career civil servants with a minimum university degree who contribute for the formulation, implementation and execution of acts of technical analysis and administrative management, necessary for the development of Brazilian foreign policy. * Diplomata (''Diplomat'') are career civil servants responsible for diplomatic and consular activities, in their specific aspects of representation, negotiation, information and protection of Brazilian interests in the international field.
There are no ranks in the Chancery Assistant or Chancery Officer careers, nor a hierarchy between careers. However, when working abroad, it is common for Chancery Assistants and Chancery Officers to be assigned to sensitive functions, such as the Vice-Consul, and/or as Head of Sectors such as administration, accounting, communications, processing of political, commercial, diplomatic or consular information.

There are six ranks in the Diplomat career, in hierarchical order: * ' ("Third secretary") * ' ("Second secretary") * ' ("First secretary") * ' ("Counsellor") * ' ("Minister, second class") * ' ("Minister, first class")
' is the honorary dignity conceded permanently when a Minister of First Class assumes a Post overseas. It can also be a temporary assignment, when carried on by a lower-rank diplomat or Brazilian politician of high level.


China

The ranks of the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China () is the first-ranked executive department The United States federal executive departments are the principal units of the Federal government of the United States, executive b ...
are defined by the Law on Diplomatic Personnel Stationed Abroad, passed in 2009 by the
National People's Congress The National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China (), often referred to as the National People's Congress (NPC) (), is the highest organ of state power and the national legislature of the People's Republic of China ...
: * Attaché (
Simplified Chinese Simplified Chinese characters are standardized Chinese characters Chinese characters, also called ''hanzi'' (), are logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language by ...
: 随员;
Pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objecti ...

Pinyin
: ''suíyuán'') * Third Secretary (三等秘书; ''sānděng mìshū'') * Second Secretary (二等秘书; ''èrděng mìshū'') * First Secretary (一等秘书; ''yīděng mìshū'') * Counselor (参赞; ''cānzàn'') * Minister (公使; ''gōngshǐ'') * Ambassador (大使; ''dàshǐ'')


Egypt

The following ranks are used in the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: * Diplomatic Attaché * Third Secretary * Second Secretary * First Secretary * Counselor * Minister Plenipotentiary * Ambassador


France

There are five ranks in the French Diplomatic Service: (in ascending order) * ' * ' (''du cadre général'' or else ''du cadre d'Orient'') * ' (''du cadre général'' or else ''du cadre d'Orient'') * ', the most common rank for heads of mission, but it also applies to some ministers-counsellors in important embassies * ', an honorary dignity There are two additional ranks for ICT specialists (also in ascending order): * ' * '


Germany

The German Foreign Service uses a rank system that is connected to that of the rest of the civil administration and to military ranks through a common pay table. All ranks also occur in female form.


Hungary

The ranks at the Hungarian Foreign Service are the following.: * Segédattasé – Assistant Attaché *Attasé – Attaché *III. osztályú titkár- Third Secretary * II. osztályú titkár – Second Secretary *I. osztályú titkár – First Secretary *II. osztály tanácsos – Second Counsellor *I. osztályú tanácsos – First Counsellor *Rendkívüli követ és meghatalmazott miniszter – Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary


Italy

In
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...

Italy
, ranks and functions are not exactly connected: each rank can cover several functions. Moreover, several exceptions apply. * ' ("Secretary of Legation in probation period"): 9-month training period at the beginning of the career (no other functions) * ' ("Secretary of Legation"): second secretary at an embassy, head of vice-consulate, vice-consul * ' ("Counsellor of Legation"): counsellor at an embassy, consul (head of a first-class general consulate) * ' ("Counsellor of Embassy"): first counsellor at an embassy, consul * ' ("Minister Plenipotentiary"): ambassador (as for functions), minister-counsellor at an embassy, head of a Directorate at the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs In many countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the government department responsible for the state's diplomacy Diplomacy is the practice of influencing the decisions and conduct of foreign governments or organizations through dialogue, neg ...
* ' ("Ambassador"): ambassador (thus both as for the rank and for the functions), General Secretary or head of a Directorate at the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs In many countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the government department responsible for the state's diplomacy Diplomacy is the practice of influencing the decisions and conduct of foreign governments or organizations through dialogue, neg ...
There are about 30 people who hold the rank of Ambassador. Therefore, most of the about 150 Italian embassies or permanent representations are held by a Minister Plenipotentiary: traditionally, ambassadors are appointed to the most important representations, such as
London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowerc ...

London
,
Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,175,601 residents , in an area of more than . Since the 17th century, Paris ha ...

Paris
,
Washington Washington commonly refers to: * Washington (state), United States * Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States ** Federal government of the United States (metonym) ** Washington metropolitan area, the metropolitan area centered on Washingt ...
,
New Delhi New Delhi (, ''Naī Dillī'') is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majusc ...

New Delhi
and
Peking Beijing ( ), alternatively romanized as Peking ( ), is the capital of the People's Republic of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by ...

Peking
embassies and representations to the in
New York City New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from New York State New York is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of ...

New York City
and the in
Brussels Brussels (french: Bruxelles or ; nl, Brussel ), officially the Brussels-Capital Region (All text and all but one graphic show the English name as Brussels-Capital Region.) (french: link=no, Région de Bruxelles-Capitale; nl, link=no, Brusse ...

Brussels
.


Mexico

After the merger of the Consular and Diplomatic Corps, the current grades of Mexican career diplomats are (in ascending order) * ' ("Diplomatic Attaché"): title held during the one-year training program at the Diplomatic School and an internship in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. * ' ("Embassy Secretary, Third Secretary"). * ' ("Embassy Secretary, Second Secretary"). * ' ("Embassy Secretary, First Secretary"). * ' ("Counsellor"). * ' ("Minister"). * ' ("Ambassador").


Portugal

In ascending order, the five ranks of the Portuguese diplomatic career are, as defined in the Statute of the Diplomatic Career (''Estatuto da Carreira Diplomática''): * ' ("Embassy Attaché") * ' ("Embassy Secretary") * ' ("Embassy Counsellor") * ' ("Minister Plenipotentiary") * ' ("Ambassador") Ministers Plenipotentiary who have been in that rank for three or more years are called "Minister Plenipotentiary, First Class" (''ministro plenipotenciário de 1.ª classe''), those who have been in the rank for less than three years are called "Minister Plenipotentiary, Second Class" (''ministro plenipotenciário de 2.ª classe''). Embassy Secretaries who have been in that rank for six years or more and in the diplomatic career for eight years or more are called "First Embassy Secretary" (''primeiro-secretário de embaixada''), those who have been in the rank for three years or more and for five years or more in the diplomatic career are called "Second Embassy Secretary" (''segundo-secretário de embaixada''), and those who have been in that rank for less than three years are called "Third Embassy Secretary" (''terceiro-secretário de embaixada'').


Singapore

Singapore's Foreign Service has a merged Consular and Diplomatic Corps due to its small size. Its Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) are typically appointed to the rank of Second Secretary / Vice-Consul or higher, while Foreign Service Administration Specialists (FSASes) are posted according to their substantive grades (typically ranging from Mission Support Officer to Attache - although in rare cases some senior FSASes may be promoted to the rank of First Secretary/Consul). [Note: FSOs and FSASes are on discrete career tracks. Hence, even the rare FSAS who rises up the ranks, will not hold a similar substantive grade to that of an FSO. FSOs are typically the diplomats, while FSASes serve as support staff.] Regardless of rank, personnel are typically split across three tracks: (a) Political, (b) Administration and Consular, (c) Administration and Technical. Officers on the Political track take precedence over the rest, and are usually the ones holding the appointments of Head of Mission (HOM) or Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM). [Note: Personnel seconded from other government agencies receive different suffixes. For instance, a First Secretary (Economic) would represent an officer from the Ministry of Trade and Industry. While such persons may hold diplomatic rank, they are not considered to be part of the foreign service in a career sense.] The ranks are as follows:


Spain

After the merger of the Consular and Diplomatic Corps, the current eight grades of Spanish career diplomats are (in ascending order): * ' ("Trainee Diplomat"): title held during the one-year training program at the Diplomatic School. * ' ("Embassy Secretary, Third Class") or Secretary. * ' ("Embassy Secretary, Second Class") * '. ("Embassy Secretary, First Class") * ' or ', lowest grade to be appointed Consul-General. * ' ("Minister Plenipotentiary, Third Class") commonly known as Minister, lowest grade to be appointed Ambassador. * '. ("Minister Plenipotentiary, Second Class") * '. ("Minister Plenipotentiary, First Class") * ' ("Ambassador of Spain"): not all Spanish Ambassadors hold this grade, which is limited by law to 3% of the total Corps.


United Kingdom

Her Majesty's Diplomatic Service Her Majesty's Diplomatic Service (HMDS) is the diplomatic service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, dealing with Foreign policy, foreign affairs and representing British interests overseas, as opposed to the Civil Servi ...
differentiates between officers in the "Senior Management Structure" (SMS; equivalent to the Senior Civil Service grades of the
Home Civil Service Her Majesty's Home Civil Service, also known as Her Majesty's Civil Service or the Home Civil Service, is the permanent bureaucracy or Secretariat (administrative office), secretariat of Crown employees that supports Her Majesty's Government, whic ...
) and those in the "delegated grades". SMS officers are classified into four pay-bands, and will serve in the
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) is a department Department may refer to: * Departmentalization, division of a larger organization into parts with specific responsibility Government and military *Department (country subd ...
in London as (in descending order of seniority) Permanent Under-Secretary (O-10), Directors-General (O-9), Directors (O-8), and Heads of Department or Deputy Directors (O-7). Overseas Ambassadors and High Commissioners (in Commonwealth countries) are generally drawn from all four SMS bands (and the D7 delegated grade) depending on the size and importance of the mission, as are Consuls-General, Deputy Heads of Mission, and Counsellors in larger posts. (Deputy Heads of Mission at the most significant Embassies, for example those in Washington and in Paris, are known as Ministers.) In the "delegated grades", officers are graded by number from 1 to 7; the grades are grouped into bands lettered A‑D (A1 and A2; B3; C4 and C5; and D6 and D7). Overseas, A2 grade officers hold the title of Attache; B3‑grade officers are Third Secretaries; C4s are Second Secretaries; and C5s and D6s are First Secretaries. D7 officers are usually Counsellors in larger posts, Deputy Heads of Mission in medium-sized posts, or Heads of Mission in small posts.


United States

In the
United States Foreign Service The United States Foreign Service is the primary personnel system used by the diplomatic service Diplomatic service is the body of diplomat A diplomat (from grc, δίπλωμα; romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics ...
, the personnel system under which most U.S. diplomatic personnel are assigned, a system of personal ranks is applied which roughly corresponds to these diplomatic ranks. Personal ranks are differentiated as "
Senior Foreign ServiceThe Senior Foreign Service (SFS) comprises the top four ranks of the United States Foreign Service. These ranks were created by the Foreign Service Act of 1980 and Executive Order 12293 in order to provide the Foreign Service with senior grades e ...
" (SFS) or "Member of the Foreign Service". Officers at these ranks may serve as ambassadors and occupy the most senior positions in diplomatic missions. The SFS ranks, in order from highest to lowest, are: Members of the Foreign Service consist of five groups, including
Foreign Service Officer A Foreign Service Officer (FSO) is a commissioned Commission or commissioning may refer to: Business and contracting * Commission (remuneration), a form of payment to an agent for services rendered ** Commission (art), the purchase or the creati ...
s and Foreign Service Specialists. Like officers in the U.S. military, Foreign Service Officers are members of the Foreign Service who are commissioned by the President. Foreign Service Specialists are technical leaders and experts, commissioned by the Secretary of State. Ranks descend from the highest, FS‑1,
equivalent Equivalence or Equivalent may refer to: Arts and entertainment *Album-equivalent unit, a measurement unit in the music industry *Equivalence class (music) *''Equivalent VIII'', or ''The Bricks'', a minimalist sculpture by Carl Andre *''Equivalent ...
to a full
Colonel Colonel (; abbreviated as Col., Col or COL) is a senior military officer An officer is a person who has a position of authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social rel ...
in the military, to FS‑9, the lowest rank in the U.S. Foreign Service personnel system. (Most entry-level Foreign Service members begin at the FS‑5 or FS‑6 level.) Personal rank is distinct from and should not be confused with the diplomatic or consular rank assigned at the time of appointment to a particular diplomatic or consular mission. In a large mission, several Senior Diplomats may serve under the Ambassador as Minister-Counselors, Counselors, and First Secretaries; in a small mission, a diplomat may serve as the lone Counselor of Embassy.


Consular counterpart

Most countries' consular corps are composed of career diplomats who are simply posted to Consulates/Consulates-General. In such situations, these career diplomats will hold consular ranks instead (ranking in descending order: consul-general, consul, vice-consul, consular agent; equivalents with consular immunity limited to official acts only include honorary consul-general, honorary consul, and honorary vice-consul. Other titles, including "vice consul-general", have existed in the past.) – although they are usually also given a diplomatic rank by the country. Consular ranks and responsibilities differ from country to country, and may also be used concurrently with diplomatic titles if the individual is assigned to an embassy. Diplomatic immunity is generally more limited for consular officials without other diplomatic accreditation, and is broadly limited to immunity with respect to their official duties. While in the past, consular officials have often been more distant from the politically sensitive aspects of diplomacy, this is no longer necessarily the case, and career diplomats in consulates often perform the same roles as those in an embassy would. Some countries also routinely provide their embassy officials with consular commissions, including those without formal consular responsibilities, since a consular commission allows the individual to legalize documents, sign certain documents, and undertake certain other necessary functions. Depending on the practice of the individual country, "consular services" may be limited to services provided for citizens or residents of the sending country, or extended to include, for example, visa services for nationals of the host country. Sending nations may also designate incumbents of certain positions as holding consulary authority by virtue of their office, while lacking individual accreditation, immunity and inviolability. For example, 10 U.S.C. §§ 936 and 1044a identify various U.S. military officers (and authorize the service secretaries to identify others) who hold general authority as a notary and consul of the United States for, respectively, purposes of military administration and those entitled to military legal assistance. A nation may also declare that its senior merchant sea captain in a given foreign
port A port is a maritime Maritime may refer to: Geography * Maritime Alps, a mountain range in the southwestern part of the Alps * Maritime Region, a region in Togo * Maritime Southeast Asia * The Maritimes, the Canadian provinces of ...

port
—or its merchant sea captains generally—has consulary authority for merchant seamen.


See also

* Agricultural attaché *
ApocrisiaryAn ''apocrisiarius'', the Romanization, Latinized form of ''apokrisiarios'' ( el, ), sometimes Anglicization, Anglicized as apocrisiary, was a high diplomacy, diplomatic representative during Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. The correspondi ...
*
Commissioner A commissioner is, in principle, a member of a commission Commission or commissioning may refer to: Business and contracting * Commission (remuneration), a form of payment to an agent for services rendered ** Commission (art), the purchase or the ...
*
Consul Consul (abbrev. ''cos.''; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the powe ...
*
Diplomatic mission A diplomatic mission or foreign mission is a group of people from one state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (new ...
*
Diplomatic service Diplomatic service is the body of diplomat A diplomat (from grc, δίπλωμα; romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of comm ...
*
Diplomacy Diplomacy is the practice of influencing the decisions and conduct of foreign governments or organizations through dialogue, negotiation, and other nonviolent means. Diplomacy usually refers to international relations carried out through the inte ...

Diplomacy
*
Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary An envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary, usually known as a minister, was a diplomatic head of mission who was ranked below ambassador An ambassador is an official envoy, especially a high-ranking diplomat who represents a state and ...
* Internuncio,
Nuncio An apostolic nuncio ( la, nuntius apostolicus; also known as a papal nuncio or simply as a nuncio) is an ecclesiastical {{Short pages monitor