Diplomatic immunity is a policy held between governments, which ensures that diplomats are given safe passage and are considered not susceptible to suit under the host country's laws (although they can be expelled as undesirable - persona non grata). It was agreed as international law in Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961).
Diplomatic and Consular Privileges and Immunities From Criminal Jurisdiction
Summary of Law Enforcement Aspects
|Category||May Be Arrested or Detained||Residence May Be Entered Subject to Ordinary Procedures||May Be Issued Traffic Citation||May Be Subpoenaed as Witness||May Be Prosecuted||Recognized Family Member|
|Diplomatic||Diplomatic Agent||No1||No||Yes||No||No||Same as sponsor (full immunity and inviolability)|
|Member of Administrative and Technical Staff||No1||No||Yes||No||No||Same as sponsor (full immunity and inviolability)|
|Service Staff||Yes2||Yes||Yes||Yes||No, for official acts. Otherwise, yes2||No immunity or inviolability2|
|Consular||Career Consular Officers||Yes, if for a felony and pursuant to a warrant.2||Yes4||Yes||No, for official acts. Testimony may not be compelled in any case.||No, for official acts. Otherwise, yes3||No immunity or inviolability2|
|Honorary Consular Officers||Yes||Yes||Yes||No, for official acts. Yes, in all other cases||No, for official acts. Otherwise, yes||No immunity or inviolability|
|Consular Employees||Yes2||Yes||Yes||No, for official acts. Yes, in all other cases||No, for official acts. Otherwise, yes2||No immunity or inviolability2|
|International Organizations||International Organization Staff3||Yes3||Yes3||Yes||No, for official acts. Yes, in all other cases||No, for official acts. Otherwise, yes3||No immunity or inviolability2|
|Diplomatic-Level Staff of Missions to International Organizations||No1||No||Yes||No||No||Same as sponsor (full immunity and inviolability)|
|Support Staff of Missions to International Organizations||Yes||Yes||Yes||No, for official acts. Yes, in all other cases||No, for official acts. Otherwise, yes||No immunity or inviolability|
1Reasonable constraints, however, may be applied in emergency circumstances involving self-defense, public safety, or the prevention of serious criminal acts.
2This table presents general rules. Particularly in the cases indicated, the employees of certain foreign countries may enjoy higher levels of privileges and immunities on the basis of special bilateral agreements.
3A small number of senior officers are entitled to be treated identically to “diplomatic agents.”
4Note that consular residences are sometimes located within the official consular premises. In such cases, only the official office space is protected from police entry.
This chart is copied from the US State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security Web site, http://ds.state.gov/dipimmunities/dichart.pdf.