How to Write a Business Letter to a Foreign Consulate

Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images

There are a variety of reasons to write a business letter to any one of the hundreds of foreign consulates across the globe. For example, you may wish to request visa or travel information, to inquire about foreign trade opportunities, to conduct foreign affairs research, or to write a letter of recommendation for a student traveling abroad for an internship.

Identify the name, title and address of the individual to whom you're addressing the letter. Each foreign consulate has a detailed website that provides a personnel directory, along with links to various departments, which can help you identify the person to whom you should address your correspondence.

Follow traditional business protocol when writing a business letter to the consulate. Use the individual’s full name and title, department and consulate address, formatted per the country’s international mail system. Each country varies, so follow the directives listed in the “contact us” section of the consulate's website. If you're sending a hard copy letter, include the date in the upper right corner of your letter. If you're sending email, clearly state the purpose of your correspondence in the subject line.

Write an introduction letter that includes an explanation of who you are, where you're from, why you're writing, and whether you're writing on behalf of another individual or yourself. If you're writing on behalf of a corporation, a government entity, an international organization or an educational institute, note the affiliation by name and state your title and credentials.

Write a straightforward statement that briefly but succinctly outlines the purpose of your correspondence. Translated or interpreted language can often have dual meanings, so take care to avoid slang terminology or colloquialisms that might not be readily understood by a foreign reader. For example, the phrase, “I want to touch base with you” should be replaced with, “I am writing to ask you about…”

Limit your letter to a single topic and be specific about the outcome you desire from the correspondence.

End the letter with a note of thanks and provide details about how you can be reached. Always include your full name. Never falsify or make misleading or potentially threatening statements in a letter to a foreign consulate.

Consult your local post office about postage requirements and estimated delivery time. If you're enclosing a self-addressed, stamped envelope to ensure a fast reply to your letter, make sure you have the appropriate amount of U.S. postage on the return envelope.

Tips

  • United States foreign consulate websites are written in English while international foreign consulates are typically written in the country’s native language with a link to an English version.

References

About the Author

Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images