The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource
Follow Us Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter 
Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol
  • Email Email
  • Printable Single-Page Print-Friendly
  • Glossary Glossary

The U.S. Department of State

Index of articles from The U.S. Department of State

The U.S. Department of State logo
  • Protecting American Security
  • Increasing American Prosperity
  • Promoting American Values

Diplomacy is an instrument of power, essential for maintaining effective international relationships. It is a principal means through which the United States defends its interests, responds to crises, and achieves its international goals. The Department of State is the lead institution for the conduct of American diplomacy, a mission based on the role of the Secretary of State as the President's principal foreign policy adviser.

To carry out U.S. foreign policy at home and abroad, the Department of State:

  • Exercises policy leadership, broad interagency coordination, and management of resource allocation for the conduct of foreign relations.

  • Leads representation of the United States overseas and advocates U.S. policies for foreign governments and international organizations.

  • Coordinates, and provides support for, the international activities of U.S. agencies, official visits, and other diplomatic missions.

  • Conducts negotiations, concludes agreements, and supports U.S. participation in international negotiations of all types.

  • Coordinates and manages the U.S. Government response to international crises of all types.

  • Carries out public affairs and public diplomacy.

  • Reports on and analyzes international issues of importance to the U.S. Government.

  • Assists U.S. business.

  • Protects and assists American citizens living or traveling abroad.

  • Adjudicates immigrant and nonimmigrant visas to enhance U.S. border security.

  • Manages those international affairs programs and operations for which the Department has statutory responsibility.

  • Guarantees the Diplomatic Readiness of the U.S. Government.

The above mission statement guides Department employees in conducting foreign affairs programs and activities. Department employees are also guided by a set of values, as individuals and as an institution. The work of these individuals has an impact on U.S. citizens, both domestic and abroad. Expertise in languages, understanding of foreign cultures, and management of complex issues and programs gained through international experience are essential elements of this work.

The Department exercises discipline in implementing policy, regardless of personal preferences, and its personnel are willing and able to serve worldwide as needed. Divergent views are expressed when necessary to strengthen the formulation and execution of foreign policy. The conduct of foreign relations is viewed as a long-term career commitment, rather than just a job. The Department workforce, a blend of Civil and Foreign Service employees and Foreign Service Nationals overseas, reflects the diversity of the United States.

Organization and Structure

The Department was established in 1789 to advise the President on the formulation and execution of foreign affairs. The Secretary heads the Department and is the President's principal foreign relations adviser. The Secretary is aided by a Deputy Secretary and five Under Secretaries who serve as the Department's corporate board on foreign policy in the following areas: political affairs; economic, business, and agricultural affairs; arms control and international security; global affairs; and management.

State Department Web Sites

How to Reach the U.S. Department of State

Important Telephone Numbers:

  • Public Inquiries: 1 (202) 647-6575
  • Overseas Citizens Service: 1 (202) 647-5225
  • Office of Children's Issues: 1 (202) 736-7000
  • Visa Services: 1 (202) 663-1225
  • Passport Services: 1 (900) 225-5674

  • Email Email
  • Printable Single-Page Print-Friendly
  • Glossary Glossary