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I come from a relatively small country and like to vacation in small countries where my home country has no consulate. I am just curious, hypothetically, what would be a course of action if my passport in one of those odd little places got lost or stolen and I got stranded there without consular support.

As a bonus, I also have a U.S. green card. If I lost my passport in, suppose Fiji where the U.S. does have a consulate, what could I do? How about Dominica (link provided to distinguish from the often confused Dominican Republic), where neither the U.S. not my country of passport issuance have consulates?

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    Before you leave, ask your home country which country manages their diplomatic relations with your destination country. There's almost always a proxy. – Gayot Fow Nov 30 '16 at 17:34
  • As Gayot says. For example, for Americans in North Korea, one would go to the Swedish Embassy ("U.S. Protecting Power") . – Spehro Pefhany Nov 30 '16 at 21:39
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    @SpehroPefhany But note that protecting power has a specific definition in diplomacy, and it is possible for one country's mission to handle consular affairs for another country without the two having a protecting power relationship. – choster Nov 30 '16 at 21:41
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No country has a diplomatic presence in every other country; in some cases politics prevents it, but in other cases it is simply impractical. Your home country will take care of its citizens' needs in the destination country in some fashion, however:

  1. Through another country's mission to the destination country, by agreement
  2. Through a mission of your home country in another country, or through some office or officer of the foreign ministry back at home
  3. Through an organization which is a mission all but in name

For example, Latvia does not send a diplomatic mission to Vietnam, but it has authorized the Hungarian embassy to Vietnam to handle issuing visas to Latvia. By the same token, Hungary does not maintain an embassy in Cambodia, and Hungarian diplomatic and consular duties for Cambodia are handled by the embassy in Vietnam.

For another example of case #2, Bhutan and the U.S. do not maintain official diplomatic relations (even though they are otherwise friendly), and the U.S. sends no diplomatic mission to Bhutan. If you were an American citizen visiting Bhutan and lost your passport, you would need to contact the U.S. embassy to India in New Delhi for further instructions.

Case #3 applies where for political reasons a country does not send an official mission, but needs a presence there as a practical matter. It is not directly applicable to your question, but it is how many countries handle relations with Taiwan/China and Israel/Palestine.

Your home country's foreign office is the only definitive source for understanding where you can find consular services in any part of the world.


Passports represent nationality, not residency. A green card holder (U.S. permanent resident) cannot apply for a U.S. passport, so you would be traveling on your home country's passport, and if it is lost or stolen, you would need to contact your home country's mission or their proxy to replace it. I doubt your U.S. status would make much if any difference there, but I cannot say definitively one way or the other.

addendum

As Michael Hampton notes in a comment, "US permanent residents can re-enter the US without a passport, but might or might not be able to transit various countries with only the green card. So it may be sometimes possible to return to the US and deal with it there. It's best to deal with it immediately, in the country where it happened, though."

  • US permanent residents can re-enter the US without a passport, but might or might not be able to transit various countries with only the green card. So it may be sometimes possible to return to the US and deal with it there. It's best to deal with it immediately, in the country where it happened, though. – Michael Hampton Nov 30 '16 at 19:43
  • Thanks, good to know; I copied your comment into the answer. – choster Nov 30 '16 at 20:47
  • What exactly does it mean to "not maintain official diplomatic relations"? Just no embassies? Any ideas why this is the case for Bhutan? – Tin Man Nov 30 '16 at 22:15
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    @Walt When it comes to international relations, the concept of the "diplomat" typically comes with a set of privileges not offered to others. Diplomatic immunity is one of them. The Diplomatic Bag is another, which is the ability to mark any container as a Diplomatic Bag, rendering it unsearchable by customs. Which of these privileges a country honors is written up in treaties. If there are no diplomatic relations, that means that these privileges are not recognized. Of course, the biggest of these is the concept of the embassy, which is highly specialized.No diplomatic relations=no embassy – Cort Ammon Nov 30 '16 at 23:19
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    @Azor-Ahai UNSC is United Nations Security Council. Its permanent members (USA is one of those, together with Russia, China, UK and France if my memory is correct) have veto power in that council. Many see this as unfair and some countries (including Bhutan) refuse formal diplomatic relations (like an embassy) because of that. – Tonny Dec 1 '16 at 13:14
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Without knowing your nationality, this is very much a hypothetical.

In addition to the answer by Choster, if you are an EU citizen you can receive consular assistance from any other EU representation if there is no national embassy or consulate.

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