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Role of the foreign service

The Federal Foreign Office represents Germany’s interests to the world. It promotes international exchange and offers protection and assistance to Germans abroad.

What we do

With its offices in Berlin and Bonn and a network of around 230 missions abroad, the Federal Foreign Office maintains Germany’s relations with other countries as well as with international and supra-national organisations.

This work concerns much more than just political contacts among governments and parliaments. Because Germany and German society are enmeshed in ever-growing international networks, the Federal Foreign Office promotes intensive interaction and exchange with the world in the fields of business, culture, science and technology, the environment, development issues and many more areas.

How we work

Shaping globalisation is one of the most important tasks of diplomacy. In this area, the Federal Foreign Office works closely with partners from civil society, including business associations, unions and humanitarian and human rights organisations. Through its embassies and consulates-general, it also communicates with the public abroad in order to convey a positive, up-to-date image of Germany. We are supported in this pursuit by Honorary Consuls, volunteers who work on the ground in host countries.

Today, many of the world’s challenges can no longer be met by individual countries and must instead be tackled in concert with numerous international partners. Such challenges include regional conflicts, terrorist threats, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the violation of human rights.

Germany’s participation in international bodies is therefore becoming ever more important. Germany has already served as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council five times and is once again seeking a non-permanent seat for the 2019-2020 term. In this role, Germany takes responsibility for the world’s peace and security. It also advocates further strengthening the European Union. Here, too, the Federal Foreign Office coordinates German interests and formulates positions on various topics to develop a unified German foreign and security policy.

Who you can turn to

Along with its role in shaping foreign policy, the Federal Foreign Office also views itself as a service provider – for citizens, German businesses and German cultural life as well as for MPs and government representatives at the federal, Länder and local levels.

Consular assistance provided by Germany’s missions abroad is especially important for Germans abroad. Some 40 million German tourists and four million German expatriates per year present our embassies and consulates with new challenges on a daily basis: as providers of emergency assistance, as information sources and as contact points for all kinds of administrative services.

The legal basis: the responsibilities, mandate, tasks, organisation and working methods of the foreign service, as well as legal issues specific to employees abroad and their families, are enshrined in the Foreign Service Act of 30 August 1990.


Last updated 19.04.2016

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