The Protocol Directorate is the first point of contact of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. Public relations play a prominent role in this Directorate’s remit, from Protocol officials welcoming newly accredited Ambassadors or High Commissioners, as well as seeing them off when their term of duty expires, to the answering of a broad range of questions put forward by the general public.
State and Official Visits
The organisation of state visits is one of the foremost roles of the Protocol Directorate. The Directorate, in conjunction with the Office of the President (OPR) and the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) coordinates the logistics for both State and Official Visits.
On the other hand, Protocol Directorate also plays a pivotal role in the organisation of official visits, through advising on correct ceremonial procedures, assisting incoming and outgoing delegations at the airport, booking transport, publishing official and cultural programs and in liaison with the Police, coordinating security measures.
Protocol Directorate is entrusted with the appointment of new Ambassadors or High Commissioners accredited to Malta. This procedure entails seeking the agrément of proposed Ambassadors or High Commissioners by the sending state to the formal Ceremony of the Presentation of Credentials organised by the OPR. Similarly, Protocol Directorate asks for the agrément of Maltese Ambassadors or High Commissioners deployed abroad and assists them with the receiving states’ Ceremony of Presentation of Credentials.
Protocol Directorate assists the newly accredited Ambassadors or High Commissioners, as well as other diplomatic staff, in ensuring that the immunities and privileges accorded to them by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961) are administered correctly. Such services include the provision of vehicle diplomatic registration plates in conjunction with the Licensing and Testing Department (ADT), the endorsement of duty-free alcohol, tobacco and personal effects, VAT reimbursement and the booking of the Ministerial Lounges at the Malta International Airport.
This Directorate is also entrusted with the accreditation of Honorary Consuls representing Malta abroad, and conversely, foreign Honorary Consuls representing their sending state.
Diplomatic clearance for vessels, aircraft, Military visits and use of Military Uniforms
Another competence of the Protocol Directorate is the processing of requests received from resident and non-resident missions seeking diplomatic clearance for the authorised passage of aircraft and sea vessels through Maltese airspace and territorial seawaters respectively.
These clearances involve the combined effort of Protocol Directorate, the Defence Matters Directorate, the Department of Civil Aviation, the Armed Forces of Malta and the Malta Maritime Authority.