Established in 1782, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) plays an important role in supporting British citizens and businesses worldwide, and in maintaining diplomatic relations with other countries.
This government institution, also known as the Foreign Office or the British Foreign Office, has offices in more than 270 locations worldwide. In its global network of embassies and consulates, it employs more than 14,000 people, who are all civil servants of the UK. They are classified as diplomatic staff and hold diplomatic passports.
The origin of the FCO stems from Britain’s legacy as a former imperial power with vast territories across the globe under its domain. By the mid-20th century, most of the country’s colonies had become self-governing, although some retained Her Majesty, the Queen of Britain, as their official Head of State.
In 1949, the Commonwealth was formed as a group of independent nations with the Queen acting as its head from her coronation in 1953.The modern-day FCO was formed in 1968, by a merger of the Commonwealth Office and the Foreign Office.
Today, the FCO carries out vital responsibilities in the development and maintaining of diplomatic relations between the UK and other nations. Among its broad spectrum of roles are:
- Promoting UK’s Interests: Safeguarding national security and promoting the country’s international affairs abroad.
- Ensuring Economic Prosperity: Focusing on promoting prosperity through the development of trade relationships with other nations, boosting exports and investments and working towards sustainable global growth.
- Consular Assistance: Providing support to British citizens residing, working or travelling overseas through modern and efficient consular services. This pertains to the issuance of travel documents, offering travel advice and providing overseas assistance.
A number of organisations that are a part of the FCO’s group structure help in fulfilling these responsibilities. These organisations include non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs), executive agencies and a trading fund. Along with that, up to 29 UK government bodies, such as the Department for International Development (DFID) and the British Council, use the FCO’s overseas offices in several countries.
Services Offered by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
The head of the FCO is the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, also known as the Foreign Secretary in the UK. The FCO is now the UK government department that leads the country’s foreign policy. It practically represents the UK government overseas. Unlike other UK government departments, most of the FCO’s work takes place in foreign shores.
Here are a few important things that the FCO does:
⮚ Plays a key role in exerting the UK’s influence overseas, by promoting democracy and governance, human rights and international order.
⮚ Works closely with NATO to strengthen the UK‘s security and the security of the overall European continent.
⮚ Pursues anti-terrorism efforts and counters weapon proliferation, along with security services such as the Mi5 and the Secret Intelligence Services.
⮚ Along with other UK government bodies, such as the Department for International Trade, FCO secures trade agreements and investments with countries that are beneficial to its industries and citizens.
⮚ Supports outstanding scholars to pursue postgraduate courses in the UK through the Chevening scholarships.
⮚ Helps British nationals to get easy consular services abroad and in the UK. This includes:
- Issuance and renewal of passports online for British citizens and families
- Issuance of emergency travel documents
- Issuance of group passports
- Confirming identities online for passport applicants
- Oversees lost and stolen passport issues
- Editing details in passports
- Countersigning passport applications
- Passport fees submission
- Legalisation of British documents for personal or business matters abroad
All travellers who wish to visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have to get their documents apostilled by the FCO, before the documents can be legalised at the Saudi Embassy in London.
The main office of the FCO is located at:
King Charles St,
London SW1A 2AH
Phone number: +44 20 7008 1500
For document legalisation and apostille services, the FCO office address is:
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
PO Box 6255
Email Id: email@example.com
Many bus routes pass near the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Westminster, London. These are route no. 11, 12, 148, 159, 3 and 87. The nearest tube station is St. James Park, which is a 5-minute walk, or Westminster, which is a 10-minute walk. Another nearby location is the Charing Cross tube station, which is an 8-minute walk. The nearest railway station is the Charing Cross railway station.
FCO Services by Saudi Able Link
Through our vast years of experience, we provide all the guidance you would need to process your visa for Saudi Arabia. All your British documents for use in business purposes in the KSA need to be apostilled by the FCO, before the Saudi Embassy in London legalises them.
Our visa consultants have established strong relationships with officials at the FCO, based on mutual trust and respect. You can trust us to carry out all document legalisation services with utmost care and privacy. We will contact the relevant authorities in the FCO and complete all the paperwork in the fastest possible time, delivering the attested documents to you safely. Be it any type of Saudi visa, our consultants will provide you all the assistance throughout the process.