Articles 29 and 31 of the 1961 Vienna Convention establish rules for the delicate and important role of the diplomat, sanctioning individual inviolability and immunity from the jurisdiction of the receiving State, in order to ensure they can do their job at all times and in all places, even during times of conflict.

Barring specific cases, immunity and privileges are granted to the diplomatic seat, diplomatic staff, immediate family members, technical and administrative staff of a mission and their respective residences, and can be listed in brief as follows:

  • Extraterritoriality of the diplomatic seat: the host country must ensure its inviolability and security
  • Inviolability of the person of the diplomatic agent, his residence and his property
  • Immunity from penal, civil and administrative jurisdiction of the receiving State (barring the exceptions listed in art. 31)
  • Tax exemption: exempt from VAT for goods and services supplied directly to the entitled diplomatic officer. Exemptions may be fewer or greater depending on reciprocity of treatment terms between the sending State and the receiving State
  • Customs allowances: reserved solely for diplomatic agents (art. 36 of 1961 Vienna Convention)
  • Diplomatic correspondence and Diplomatic Courier: these are inviolable. A Courier’s packages can be checked for security only in the presence of an Officer of the relative Diplomatic Representation