If you need to contact your country abroad, consulates are the best choice. Here we will tell you the features of this government entity that you may not yet know.
Studying abroad is one of the biggest steps you will take in your life. You will be facing a completely different country and a helping hand never hurts when the time comes to clarify doubts that may arise when in international territory.
A consulate represents the public administration of a country abroad and is directly linked to the Ministry of Foreign Relations in everything that corresponds to the promotion and protection of: the State’s interests; national citizens; and the image of the country abroad. Also the office of the consul is a diplomatic function of the foreign service, devoted to attend to the citizens of their nation.
Several features exist by which a consulate, as a state entity, and their consular officials, have to provide consultancy and assistance to their fellow nationals abroad. Here are some of their functions:
Issue certified documents
The certified documentation of your native country is essential for the performance of certain activities with legality in the country in which you are located. A consulate is responsible for processing everything related to the issuance of ID documents, transcripts of births, deaths, marriages and divorces befallen abroad.
The issuance and renewal of passports are among the best-known functions of consulates abroad. If you need to renew your passport, because you lost it, it was stolen, it reached its expiration date, you filled all its pages or you just have to update it, you should go to a consulate of your country wherever you are and get assistance; there they will be responsible for issuing a new passport or an emergency travel document which will have limited validity.
Apostilles of documents
As a transnational student, you can go to the consulate of your country abroad if you need any kind of official translations, apostilles or legalization of documents. This sort of paperwork is carried out to certification with a signature or with an authenticity note for the documents issued in another country. Remember that having all of your documents legalized allows you to keep your situation in order during your stay in a foreign country!
Look out for the interests and security of underage fellow nationals
Certainly, it may be said that underage citizens overseas are the most encouraged and supported by the government of your country abroad. If you are underage and you are in a vulnerable situation, you can benefit in terms of protection and security; there are even countries that grant some monthly contributions to underage people who have difficulties or are in a dangerous situation. Either way, this aid depends on particular situations. So, depending on your condition, you can go to the consulate of your country in a foreign territory and request consular advice.
Travel authorization for minors
Sometimes, different consulates around the world can issue travel authorizations for minors of their nationality, with the consent of the law. When you request this sort of paperwork you should keep in mind to take all the documents required to legalize your authorization to leave the country – you can verify all the required documents on the official website of the consulate of your country or communicating by phone.
Support to the educational community
There are some consulates of certain nations that provide valuable and relevant information for the educational communities of their country abroad. They support the development of programs in high school, scholarships for higher education, and occasionally education for adults.
Also, you can find workshops and educational activities that promote the culture of your country around the world. Searching the website of the consulate of both your home country and that of your destination are great options to stay informed and participate in these activities with your community.
Employment opportunities are really common in the consulates of many countries overseas. In general, they post all kinds of job vacancies online to work with their consular teams. So looking for a job opportunity in a foreign consulate can be a great way to grow personally and professionally by learning from new cultures, improving your language skills and contributing to the development of a state entity abroad.
Inform the fellow nationals
In most countries of the world, the right to information is fundamental, so if you require it you can go to the consulate of your country abroad to request any sort of information of your nation, either: paperwork, consular appointments, social security matters, elections, employment offers, cultural and commercial treaties of your country with the host country, general or interesting information and so on.
Provides security to the citizens abroad
Providing aid and security to fellow nationals is another function of consulates abroad. In the unfortunate landscape of a catastrophe or an accident in a foreign country, you can ask for help at the consulate of your country. They will be responsible for giving assistance and notifying your relatives.
In the event of a medical condition, the consulate may put you in contact with authorized doctors to assist you and if it is necessary, they will contact you with specialized doctors to give you the best possible care. You must keep in mind that medical expenses will be your responsibility, under no circumstances will the consulate deal with this.
Promote cultural relations with the host country
Consulates, in turn, are responsible for promotion and cultural exchange between countries, in order to reinforce their national links with their community abroad, and promote basic aspects of society through the participation and dissemination of activities carried out by and for your country’s community residing in a foreign country.
Inquiring about the events calendar of the consulate is the best way to stay up-to-date with the different activities, events, talks, workshops and exhibitions that your country develops abroad. It is a great option to participate with the people of your community and remember your native customs and traditions.
In addition, some consulates promote community support, especially for immigrant populations in vulnerable situations, which consolidate a bond of solidarity between the country and its citizens abroad.
Renewal of your driving license
Nowadays, knowing how to drive is a basic necessity and a great alternative to move around in many countries around the world. While it is true that each country has their own transport policies, having a permit or a driving license can help you to make this process a bit easier.
Having these types of permits can allow you to drive in a foreign country for a limited period of time, without having to adapt to their transportation policies. However, there may be an exception in case of lost documents or the expiration of your driving license. If that’s the case with you, you can go to the consulate of your country in the city abroad where you are and request a renewal of your document with legality.
Studying abroad doesn’t exclude you from your fundamental rights. If you are of legal age and you were born in a democratic country, certainly you have the right to vote, one of the most important rights to express your opinion in a free country without distinctions of race, creed, gender, socioeconomic status, educational level or political militancy.
If that’s the case with you, but you are fulfilling some kind of educational goal abroad, a consulate of your country is the best solution to exercise your right to vote; there they will give you all the information and consultancy necessary to vote and participate as a fellow citizen. Also, they will guarantee your vote is taken in account and they will give you an electoral voting certificate. Don’t forget to stay informed of the voting dates!
Promote the image of a country abroad
Another of the main functions of consulates is to promote the image of their country vis-à-vis its culture, tourism and economy in order to reinforce their foreign relations with the host countries and their communities. All these aspects represent a nation and are essential to globalize their traditions and customs around the world.
The positive image of a country abroad, in a decisive way, influences the relationship it wants to have with fellow nationals in international territory. The citizens, feeling the support of their country being away from home, can develop different skills of self-confidence in the execution of their daily activities.
Kinds of Consulates
There are three types of consular institutions that you can find in international territory. Here we explain them briefly so you can identify the nearest one to your place of permanent or temporary residence abroad and request any type of consultancy or consular assistance.
This is the highest-ranking consular office, located in countries with highest concentration of fellow nationals and important bilateral legal and economic relations.
This is known as a medium-sized consular office. You can find several consulates in the same country abroad according to the volume of legal and economic traffic.
The consular section is a part of the embassy of a country that fulfills the functions of a consular office, you can go there when there is no a general consulate in the capital in which you are located.
Just as we gave a list of some functions of a consulate, is important that you realize what kind of things this diplomatic institutions abroad can’t do, among these are:
· They cannot assume bills of the fellow national (for example: accommodation, food, transport, debt etc.).
· They can’t get you work or a work permission in the foreign country.
· They cannot infer the decisions of the local immigration authorities in the case you are denied entry to the country.
· They cannot request for extensions to stay in the foreign country.
· They can’t hide a crime.
· They can’t make exceptions in the requirements requested to do paperwork at the consulate.
· They can’t come into existence as a guarantor.
· Cannot provide you tickets or ways to return to your native country.
· Cannot carry out tasks that correspond to travel agencies, airlines, banks etc.
In conclusion, identifying the consulate of your nation in the foreign country you are located can be a great help when it comes to resolving doubts, performing paperwork, staying informed of the current situation of your country and participating in its annual events and activities.
Making the decision to explore a completely different country far from home doesn’t mean losing your customs and traditions. The consulates of your country around the world are there to help you in any situation that you need. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with this type of institution if you require some kind of assistance or consultancy abroad.
The most important part of the path of life is that in each step you take you will always search for who can give you a hand to move forward and a new reason to keep exploring and discovering different places around the world. What are you waiting to start the best journey of your life? Take that step!