The Secretary of State has required all foreign missions in the United States to notify the Office of Foreign Missions prior to any acquisition, use, sale or other disposition, by or on behalf of the foreign mission, of real property which is located in the United States or its territories. This includes, but is not limited to any purchase, lease, resale, alteration, renovation, addition or change in the purpose for which real property is used by a foreign mission.

All foreign missions must submit a written request in the form of diplomatic note to the Office of Foreign Missions. At a minimum, the note should include:

  1. The exact address of the property, including apartment, suite, floor number, square footage, etc.
  2. The use of the property, i.e., chancery, chancery annex, consulate, consular annex, residence, MFGO, etc.
  3. The inclusion of the following statement: This mission acknowledges that it must notify and obtain the approval of the Department of State’s Office of Foreign Missions prior to [disposing/selling] this property.
  4. Point of Contact – The name and contact information of the mission member authorized to discuss the proposed property acquisition with OFM; and,
  5. The inclusion of one of the following statements:
    1. No part of this property is or will be used for commercial purposes; or
    2. A portion or all of this property is or will be used for commercial purposes and by doing so the mission understands that such use deprives the area used for such purposes of both its inviolability status and eligibility for exemption from property taxation.

Missions are encouraged to notify the Office of Foreign Missions of proposed disposition as early in the process as possible. Missions that obtain the benefit of the Department’s experience and advice in the early stages of an acquisition may avoid unnecessary financial or legal complications.

After receipt of the diplomatic note, the Foreign Missions Act allows the Department up to sixty (60) days to review the request. In most instances, the Office of Foreign Missions will be able to provide a response well before the expiration of the sixty-day period, normally in two or three weeks. In some cases, however, the full review period may be required and missions are therefore encouraged to submit notifications as far in advance as possible. Prior to receiving a response from the Department to the notification, or the expiration of the sixty-day period, a mission may not enter into a contract agreement unless the agreement expressly states that the execution of the agreement is subject to the disapproval by the Department of State. The Chiefs of Mission are reminded that significant financial and legal complications could result if this requirement is overlooked.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future