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In 1982, Congress passed the Foreign Missions Act, 22 U.S.C. 4301-4316, which created a new office in the United States Department of State. This office is called the Office of Foreign Missions (OFM). The purpose of OFM is to serve the foreign diplomatic and consular communities stationed in the United States, and to control their activities. All services are based on the principle of reciprocity. In other words, no privileges are granted to a foreign official here unless United States Embassy and Consular personnel receive the equivalent privileges in that country.

OFM responsibilities include the Diplomatic Tax Exemption Program, which provides sales and use, occupancy, food, airline, gas, and utility tax exemptions to eligible foreign officials on assignment in the United States. Tax exemption privileges for foreign diplomats, consular officers, and staff members are generally based on two treaties: the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. These treaties have been ratified by the United States and are the supreme law of the land under Article VI of the Constitution.

Not all foreign missions and their personnel are entitled to tax exemption, because this privilege is based on reciprocity and not all foreign countries grant such tax exemption to American Embassies and personnel.

*Note that diplomatic tax exemption cards are issued on the basis of international law and treaties to eligible international organizations and the Permanent Missions to the United Nations and Organization of American States, and to employees (and their dependents) of such offices who have been granted the privileges and immunities accorded to diplomatic agents.

Questions concerning bookkeeping requirements should be directed to the appropriate City or State Department of Revenue. Any questions regarding the eligibility of diplomatic or consular officers for sales and use tax exemption should be directed to the Office of Foreign Missions by electronic mail at or:

Office of Foreign Missions
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
(202) 895-3500

Office of Foreign Missions
Chicago Regional Office 

77 W. Jackson Blvd, Ste 2122
Chicago, IL 60604-1503
(312) 353-5762

Office of Foreign Missions
Houston Regional Office

8701 S, Gessner Suite 906
Houston, Texas 77074
(713) 272-2865

Office of Foreign Missions
Los Angeles Regional Office 

10940 Wilshire Blvd, Ste 1425
Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 235-6292

Office of Foreign Missions
Miami Regional Office 

1645 Biscayne Boulevard, Suite 350
Miami, FL 33132

Office of Foreign Missions
New York Regional Office 

799 United Nations Plaza, 8th floor
New York, NY 10017
(646) 282-2825

Office of Foreign Missions
San Francisco Regional Office 

235 Pine Street, Suite 1600
San Francisco, CA 94104
(415) 744-2910

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future