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Jackson Square, New Orleans

Consulates and honorary consulates have existed in Louisiana since the late 1700’s and the days of French and Spanish colonial rule.

 History

Almost immediately upon the United States’ acquisition of the Louisiana territory in 1803, France opened a Consulate in New Orleans, followed soon thereafter by The Netherlands. Great Britain followed suit soon thereafter.  Louisiana’s importance as a Gateway for trade between the United States and Canada and Central and South America was evidenced by the Republic of Mexico, as demonstrated with the opening of its first Consulate in the US immediately after its declared independence in 1829.

The Consular Corps Today

Today there are 59 operating career and honorary consulates in Louisiana, serving countries on five continents.  Notably, in recent years, several countries in Africa have opted for the first time ever to open Consulates in Louisiana.  These include Tanzania and South Africa.  While for many years through the 1800’s and into the 1970’s, New Orleans and Louisiana hosted a large number of career or full-time Consuls and Consuls General, more lately, with global budget reductions and the advent and acceleration of the internet age, Louisiana, like every other major city in the world, has seen a decline in the number of career postings and an increase in the number of honorary or non-career consuls.

Our Roles and Responsibilities

The Louisiana Consular Corps works closely with leading state, federal, regional and local economic development organizations and government agencies to identify and foster trade and commercial opportunities and the exchange of goods and services between nations represented by the Consuls themselves and the city, state and region.  Among our closest partners are the World Trade Center of New Orleans, (the world’s first World Trade Center organization), the Louisiana Department of Economic Development, and the Mayor’s Office of the City of New Orleans.  Numerous other regional economic development and trade organizations are also of great assistance to the Corps.

Specific responsibilities of Consuls vary from country to country but generally include:

  • Assistance with trade and commercial opportunities or obstacles
  • Assistance with passport or visa issues
  • Providing information for tourists to and from their home country
  • Fostering cultural and educational exchange
  • Representing their home countries at a wide variety of civic, economic, cultural and governmental events and occasions

Consuls, Consulates, Ambassadors and Embassies

What is a Consul?
A consul is a representative of one nation who is stationed in a specific city or region located in another country.  One of the consul’s primary duties is to assist the citizens of the consul’s nation while those citizens are in the host country.  Another duty is to promote trade and good relations between the consul’s nation and the host country.

The history of the consular officer originated from the development of international trade. While the origins of the role of consul can be traced back to ancient Greece, it was during the 12th century A.D. that the consul began to take on the traits and duties we associate with consuls today.  Originally, consuls were appointed in port cities, as those cities were the main sites of trade and commerce.  In the later 19th century and into the 20th century, as the railroads and subsequently air travel shifted the centers of commerce to more locations inland, the number of consular appointments in non-port cities has grown.

What is a Consul General?
A Consul General is a consul whose jurisdiction is greater than a single city and encompasses a larger region.  Under many countries’ rankings of diplomatic staff, a consul will report to a consul general, who will in turn report to the ambassador in the capital city of the host country.

What is an Honorary Consul?
An honorary consul is a consul who is not a full-time professional diplomat but one who acts for the country in the same manner as a consul on a part-time basis.  A full-time consul is a professional diplomat.  The honorary consul is often a citizen of the represented country, a dual citizen of both countries, or a citizen of the host country with connections and ties to the country that he or she represents.

What is the difference between an Ambassador and a Consul?
An Ambassador is the highest ranking diplomat in the host country.  He or she is assigned to that nation’s embassy, which is located in the host country’s capital.  All consuls of the nation located in the host country report to the Ambassador.

How does one address a consul?
Only foreign ambassadors are addressed as “Your Excellency.”  U.S. ambassadors are generally referred to as “The Honorable….”   Consuls and Consuls General are simply addressed by whatever personal honorific to which they are entitled.  (e.g.  Mr., Mrs. Ms., or Dr., etc.,)  http://www.formsofaddress.info/Consul.html.  Sometimes, however, consuls and honorary consuls are addressed as “The Honorable.”

How do you pronounce the word “consul?”  Is it pronounced “kounsul” as in “council” or “counsel?”  Or is it pronounced “konsul” and rhymes with “tonsil?”

The proper pronunciation is the one that rhymes with “tonsil.”  There is a diplomatic rank called a “counselor” as in “political counselor,” but this is different from a consul.

Are consuls addressed as “consulates”?
No, the “Consulate” is the office or building where the Consul works.  Where the consul lives is called the “Residence.”

Does a consul have diplomatic immunity for any crimes that a consul may commit?
No.  The Vienna Convention On Consular Relations of 1963 sets forth the limits of diplomatic immunity for consuls and honorary consuls.  http://legal.un.org/avl/ha/vccr/vccr.html.  While a consul may have full diplomatic immunity, an honorary consul has limited diplomatic immunity only for his or her official acts performed in the capacity as consul.

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