Consular Notification and Access

Instructions for Federal, State, and other Local Law Enforcement and Other Officials Regarding Foreign Nationals in the United States and
the Rights of Consular Officials To Assist Them

These web pages contain instructions and guidance relating to the arrest and detention of foreign nationals, deaths of foreign nationals, the appointment of guardians for minors or incompetent adults who are foreign nationals, and related issues pertaining to the provision of consular services to foreign nationals in the United States. These web pages are designed to help ensure that foreign governments can extend appropriate consular services to their nationals in the United States and that the United States complies with its legal obligations to such governments. The instructions and guidance herein should be followed by all federal, state, and local government officials, whether law enforcement, judicial, or other, insofar as they pertain to foreign nationals subject to such officials' authority or to matters within such officials' competence.

The continued cooperation of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in ensuring that foreign nationals in the United States are treated in accordance with these instructions will permit the United States to comply with its consular legal obligations domestically. It will also help ensure that the United States can insist upon rigorous compliance by foreign governments with respect to United States citizens abroad. The Department of State appreciates the assistance of all law enforcement officials in helping to achieve these objectives.

If you have questions not addressed on this site, write or call:

Office of Public Affairs and Policy Coordination for Consular Affairs
CA/P, Room 6831
U.S. Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20520
telephone 202-647-4415; fax 202-736-7559

You may also reach us by e-mail at:

For urgent telephone inquiries after normal business hours, you may call the State Department Operations Center at 202-647-1512.

The Department of State expects to update this publication every 2-5 years. Note that the instructions in this booklet are in addition to those pertaining to the treatment of foreign diplomatic and consular officers. For information on the treatment of such officers, see the Department of State publication titled Diplomatic and Consular Immunity: Guidance for Law Enforcement and Judicial Authorities.

Table of Contents

Part One: Basic Instructions

Summary of Requirements
Steps To Follow When a Foreign National Is Arrested or Detained
Mandatory Notification Countries and Jurisdictions
Suggested Statements
Suggested Fax Sheet
Consular Officer Identification Cards [Note: This is the best copy available of this image file]

Part Two: Detailed Instructions

Arrests and Detentions of Foreign Nationals
Notification to Consular Officials at the Foreign National's Option
Mandatory Notification to Consular Officials
Consular Access to Detained Foreign Nationals
Deaths of Foreign Nationals
Appointments of Guardians or Trustees for Foreign Nationals
Accidents Involving Foreign Ships or Aircraft

Part Three: Frequently Asked Questions

About Consular Officers
About Foreign Nationals
About Who Is Responsible for Consular Notification
About When Consular Notification Should Be Given
About How Consular Notification Should Be Given
About Failure To Notify
About Consular Access and Assistance
About Contacting the Department of State

Part Four: Translations of Suggested Statements

How To Use the Translations
Arabic optional, Arabic mandatory
Cambodian optional
Chinese optional, Chinese mandatory
Creole optional
Farsi optional, Farsi mandatory
French optional, French mandatory
German optional, German mandatory
Italian optional, Italian mandatory
Japanese optional, Japanese mandatory
Korean optional, Korean mandatory
Laotian optional
Polish optional, Polish mandatory
Portuguese optional, Portuguese mandatory
Russian optional, Russian mandatory
Spanish optional, Spanish mandatory
Thai optional
Vietnamese optional, Vietnamese mandatory

We have a 2' by 3' poster with the notification wording in many languages that you can have printed and display in your facility. You can download the poster here.

Part Five: Legal Material

Legal Overview
Historical Background
The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations ("VCCR")
Bilateral Agreements
Customary International Law
Basis for Implementation
Vienna Convention on Consular Relations
Article 5
Article 36
Article 37
Bilateral Mandatory Notification Provisions
Agreements Pertaining to Consular Functions (Country List)

Part Six: Embassies and Consulates

Phone and Fax numbers for Foreign Embassies and Consulates in the United States

Go to Main Consular Affairs Page