The Foreign Service currently has around 11,602 members of staff,who are spread across the different Foreign Service branches as follows:
- Higher service: 1669
- Higher intermediate service: 1765
- Intermediate service: 1294
- Ordinary service: 397
- Typing pools: 850
- 2933 work at headquarters and
- 3042 at the missions abroad.
In addition, the missions abroad have
- approximately 5627 German or non‑German nationals who are recruited on site (locally employed staff) and
- staff members who have been temporarily seconded to the Foreign Office from other Federal Ministries, the Länder, the business community and other institutions.
Worldwide deployment presents particular challenges
The demands placed on members of the Foreign Service are high, for foreign policy spans no less than the entire palette of government activity in the context of external relations. Tasks which are performed at various levels domestically (Federation, Länder and municipalities) and by countless authorities are all the responsibility of the Foreign Service abroad and in relation to other countries and international organisations. Foreign Service members therefore have to assume a broad range of functions depending on their assignment at any given time.
Foreign Service members are deployed all around the world. The regular staff are subject to so-called rotation. This requires personnel from all career tracks to change jobs every three to five years. They are transferred abroad from headquarters, or move from one foreign country to another, or return to headquarters from abroad. It is therefore not uncommon for staff to move house more than a dozen times during the course of their professional life.