Difference Between Ambassador and High Commissioner

Primary Difference

Every country has a representative in another country to keep the political and cultural relationships between the two sovereign nations going. There are embassies for this purpose who play an important role to complete these tasks. The role of embassies includes authorizing of passport to the people of their country living in the other one, granting visas to the people who want to visit their country, engage in the political and social environment and to keep the relationships between the two states at a normal pace. They act as a representative of their country and have the obligation to promote the interests of their citizens by participating in conferences and other activities. The head of these can be termed as an Ambassador and High Commissioner, with both these terms slightly different from each other. These variations will be discussed in detail here. The embassies are diplomatic missions which are sent to the countries which do not belong to the commonwealth, while the countries who are from the commonwealth are the ones where High Commissions are opened. The person who is the head of an Embassy is known as Ambassador while the person who is in charge of High Commission is known as High Commissioner. To make it clearer, the countries which were ruled by the British over the years are known as the commonwealth countries. There are few exceptions, in this case, some countries do not consider the queen as the head of their state while some do, so all the commonwealth countries may not have a High Commissioner. There is no difference in the duties these people perform, but one thing to differentiate them can be that an Ambassador is responsible for all the activities in a country where he is appointed but isn’t as active while a High Commissioner is more active since the country he has been appointed was under the British rule so participating in the local activities makes more sense. Another difference can be noted here, most of the High Commissioner are just appointed by the United Kingdom, while all the other countries send Ambassadors to other places and the term is not used. The best example in this regard will be that British High Commissioner is the head of diplomatic mission in the Asian countries while the head of diplomatic mission in the United States, which never was a British Colony is known as an Ambassador. There are further differences too which will be listed in the end, while a brief description of both these posts is given next.

Comparison Chart

AmbassadorHigh Commissioner
FunctionIt is representative of one country in another country.It is representative of the head of the state in another country.
PostIt is the head of the embassy.It is the head of High Commission.
ExplanationThe ones which weren’t part of British Rule have an ambassador.Countries which used to be British Colonies are the ones where a High Commissioner is appointed.
InvolvementHe is less involved in the local society.He is more involved in the local society.

Definition of Ambassador

In simple words, an Ambassador is the head of the embassy. These are buildings in other countries where representatives from different countries reside. The main duties of them include taking care of the interest of their citizens making sure people who want to apply for visa, their applications are processed completely, if there is some kind of problem in a country they inform their own citizens of the dangers and to involve in local activities to make sure people from the other country consider them as a friend. They are the representatives of the government and keep the best interest of both the states in mind. He is the official source of communication between the two countries and all the discussions, deals, and letters are sent to the head of states though the ambassador. They aren’t always the most active persons and have to deal with a wide range of issues. Countries which do not fall under the British rule are the ones where ambassadors are mostly sent while other countries use a different term. There is no time frame of the duties they have to perform and unless there is a major shift in the policy, the ambassador in a country remains the same to make sure there is continuity between the relationships of the two states.

Definition of High Commissioner

This term might seem different from an ambassador but in reality, the job of a High Commissioner is similar to that of an ambassador. It is also representative of the head of the state in another country. And perform all the tasks such as making sure people who want to apply for visa, their applications are processed completely, if there is some kind of problem in a country they inform their own citizens of the dangers and to involve in local activities to make sure people from the other country consider them as a friend. They also have the best interests of their own citizens and perform tasks to make sure they feel at ease while traveling, living and staying in the other country. For example, if there is some issue with flight delays of passport expiration, it is the High Commissioner who has the responsibility that the documents are renewed. The only difference is that a High Commissioner is the representative of the United Kingdom in a country which was ruled by them in the past. Countries like India and Pakistan where British rule lasted until the mid-1950’s are the ones where a High Commissioner is appointed instead of an ambassador.

Differences in a Nutshell

  1. An Ambassador is the head of an embassy while a High Commissioner is the head of High Commission.
  2. Countries which used to be British Colonies are the ones where a High Commissioner is appointed while the ones which weren’t part of British Rule have an ambassador.
  3. A High Commissioner is more active than an Ambassador.
  4. High Commissioner is more involved in the local society while an ambassador is more neutral.
  5. High Commissioner keeps the interest of the locals and their own citizens in front while an ambassador always keeps its own people’s interest ahead.

Conclusion

There are representatives of government which are similar to each other and then there are some forms which are totally opposite to each other, the two terms explained in this article are Ambassador and High Commissioner which basically are antonyms. This space has given a brief but precise explanation of two terms to help people know what they mean.

Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss

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