Honorary consuls are active in many places in addition to the diplomatic missions and consular posts. Honorary consuls are appointed where the establishment of a career consular post would seem too great an effort, but where the size of the consular district of the responsible mission and the number of resident or visiting Germans nevertheless make it sensible to have a local contact point. At present there are approximately 350 honorary consuls. They are volunteers who do not have to be German citizens, in fact they are often citizens of the host country. Given their long years of working experience in the host state, they are well connected and have an intimate knowledge of conditions on the ground and are thus in a position to provide valuable assistance to Germans in emergency situations.
Honorary consuls are not entitled to perform all official consular acts, nor are they obliged to be permanently present.