What is a Consular Corps?
A consular corps is an organization whose membership consists of foreign country representatives that reside in its territory, which can be as small as a city or as large as a state. Country representatives can include full-time diplomats and consuls, part-time honorary consuls and trade representatives, and more. A consular corps collectively represents its members when forging relationships with state and local governments and key institutions in order to promote multilateral relations and to facilitate its members' duties in the territory.
What are Diplomats and Consuls?
Diplomats and consuls, whether career or honorary, are official representatives that are appointed by the head of state or foreign minister of a foreign government to represent the country's interests abroad, as well as to protect the rights and look after the well-being of the foreign country's citizens that are traveling or living abroad. When these representatives are deployed to the USA, they are accredited by the US Department of State and protected by certain immunities while carrying out their duties.
Career diplomats and consuls are full-time employees of the foreign government they represent and typically on rotational assignment for a limited time under a special visa. Career diplomats typically focus on creating bi-lateral relations in the fields of politics, commerce, culture, science, technology, academia, military, and more. Career diplomats have various ranks that range from attaché to Ambassador. Career consuls typically focus on matters pertaining to the citizens of the country they represent, and among other duties handle visa, citizenship, and immigration inquiries. Career diplomats and consuls work at embassies and consulates general that cover a larger jurisdiction. Embassies are the highest ranking foreign posts and cover the entire territory of the host country, sometimes even adjacent countries. Consulates general report to an embassy and divide the embassy's territory into several geographic regions.
Honorary consuls are part-time representatives that have been recruited by the foreign government to carry out a range of duties in a specific jurisdiction. Honorary consuls are citizens or permanent residents of the host country and typically serve longer terms without the requirements of visas. The need for honorary consuls arises when a foreign government's embassy or consulate general cannot properly attend to all affairs in its jurisdiction due to a large diaspora or strategic plans that require increased local activity. The scope of honorary consuls varies by country. Some are limited to strictly consular affairs while others take on responsibilities to forge or facilitate bi-lateral relations across the board. Honorary consuls report to the embassy or consulate general whose jurisdiction covers the honorary consul's assigned territory.
History of the North Carolina Consular Corps
The North Carolina Consular Corps was formed in 2003 by Catherine Hansen. This was the first designated Corps in the State's history and consisted of 12 Honorary Consulates at the time of inception. At the time, Ms. Hansen was appointed Chief of Protocol and Executive Director of the Corps and over the following decade led the Corps' growth to include over 20 Honorary Consulates throughout the State and a Consulate General in Raleigh. In 2017, the Corps received a more formal structure when it introduced its bylaws and incorporated as a 501 C(6) entity with headquarters in Raleigh. An elected group of officers acts as the executive committee to manage the leadership activities of the Corps and to maintain relationships with several agencies and organizations throughout the state.
Please consult the Countries listing for a current list of representations and to get in contact with a country representative.