Australia’s National Capital currently welcomes more than 110 diplomatic missions.
Many countries have diplomatic representation in Canberra to facilitate relationships between their governments and the Australian Government. Some missions are called 'Embassies' and, if the countries represented belong to the Commonwealth, they are known as 'High Commissions'. The activities carried out by diplomats relate to trade, information, cultural affairs, defence and immigration. Issuing of visas is another important function.
Canberra's diplomatic corps began in 1936 with the appointment of the United Kingdom's first High Commissioner to Australia, followed later that year by the Canadian representative. The Embassy of the United States was the first embassy built in Canberra and the first to introduce the notion of design characteristics representative of the culture of each mission's home country. Many other missions have followed suit - India, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Egypt and Papua New Guinea.
At the conclusion of the Second World War in 1945, 12 diplomatic missions were present in Canberra. Relationships fostered on the world stage have increased this number. Residences and chanceries were originally located in the suburbs of Red Hill and Forrest but today the majority are situated in picturesque settings in the lakeside suburb of Yarralumla, and the southern suburbs of Deakin and O'Malley.
The National Capital Authority (NCA) encourages foreign governments to design their missions to reflect their country's national architectural style. This practice is unique and allows the embassy to be easily identified by visitors to the national capital. The NCA is responsible for most of the diplomatic leasing in the Australian Capital Territory including the sale and issue of Crown leases, rent collection, lease variations and lease compliance.
Embassies are also represented in a unique way through the International Flag Display on the shore of Lake Burley Griffin, which provides a colourful and permanent display of the flags of all nations represented in the capital.
For more information, visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.
Diplomatic Missions wishing to hold flag raising ceremonies, please download the guidelines below.