Police are not allowed to enter embassies by force.

Would I be able to therefore escape arrest if I entered my country's embassy? What about if I entered a random embassy?

Please also advise whether this would differ between countries (e.g. a UK embassy would provide protection but a USA one wouldn't).

Note: this is a hypothetical situation!

  • 5
    Police are allowed to enter embassies if they are invited to do so. Apr 25, 2016 at 15:34
  • 1
    It probably depends of the embassy's country, and the country where it is, and what you would be wanted for. But if you come running with the police behind you, depending on the country, it is likely that you are simply denied entry in the embassy. Apr 26, 2016 at 7:00
  • 3
    Basically yes and there are famous examples. The real question is “Can you enter an embassy [and remain there]?” That does not depend only on you.
    – Relaxed
    Apr 26, 2016 at 21:28
  • 3
    If you entered a random embassy, the most likely thing to happen is that the security staff would probably just push you back out the door and into the arms of the waiting policemen
    – Valorum
    Oct 24, 2018 at 11:43
  • Hello? 112? Yeah, we got a crazy person in our embassy. Can you please send help as soon as possible? Mar 22, 2019 at 19:58

5 Answers 5


Legally, it is going to depend upon your country's embassy, the random embassy, the extradition agreements in force between the two nations, the current political conditions between the two nations at the time the request for extradition is both made and executed, and the crime for which you are being sought. Extradition laws are as complex as they are numerous. If there is no extradition treaty or agreement between the two nations, then there is no mechanism to return you to the nation that seeks to arrest you. For US extradition law, see 18 USC 3181.


Practically, it is going to depend upon your country's embassy, the random embassy, the extradition agreements in force between the two nations, and the current political conditions at the time you are in the embassy. It is not impossible that in times of upheaval one nation might invade and seize the embassy of another.

There have been many attacks on embassies and diplomatic missions, and certainly not all of them have been accidents. One of the most infamous was the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Iran in 1979. The movie "Argo" made famous "The Canadian Caper" in which six American embassy workers escaped into the streets of Tehran, and hid out in the Canadian, British, New Zealand, and I believe Swedish embassies--though they spent the most time in the Canadian embassy. Had they been discovered, the embassy would have been likely attacked and everyone inside taken hostage. Subterfuge and exfiltration were necessary to get them out of Iran safely.


There have been a few high profile cases over the years in which a person sought refuge within an embassy. Manuel Noriega, József Mindszenty, and Morgan Tsvangirai are a few. Mindszenty was granted political asylum at the United States embassy in Budapest, and lived there for 15 years before being allowed to leave Hungary. Just because one is safely inside an embassy, even if there is little to no risk that the host nation would lay siege to the embassy, one cannot smuggle out a person inside of a diplomatic pouch. Once you leave the physical property of the embassy, one is again on the soil of the host nation and subject to their laws.

  • 9
    And there's Julian Assange.
    – Tyler
    Dec 23, 2014 at 4:18
  • 1
    "If there is no extradition treaty or agreement between the two nations, then there is no mechanism to return you to the nation that seeks to arrest you" -- This isn't actually necessarily true. Some countries will not extradite without treaties, but others are willing to in some cases (e.g. according to the source you cite, clause (b), the US will extradite without treaty if someone committed a violent crime against a US national abroad).
    – cpast
    Dec 23, 2014 at 8:13
  • 17
    More relevantly, an embassy doesn't have to extradite you -- all they have to do is say "nope, you can't stay here," at which point the local police arrest you when you leave. Likewise, they can generally invite in local police to arrest you without any form of extradition proceeding, because you are still in local territory (embassies are not the territory of the sending country, police just can't enter without permission). They can give asylum, but do not have to, and need not have a formal procedure to throw you out in most cases.
    – cpast
    Dec 23, 2014 at 8:19
  • 4
    @cpast - That deserves to be its own answer.
    – Bobson
    Dec 23, 2014 at 15:06
  • 1
    @Chad I don't know about you, but I'd never heard of the Canadian involvement before that movie (my knowledge was "Iranian revolution, Americans taken hostage, special ops rescue attempt fails badly, Carter loses, hostages released on the day Reagan is sworn in").
    – cpast
    Apr 27, 2016 at 0:37

While local police can't enter an embassy without permission, an embassy is not the territory of the country whose embassy it is -- it's still the territory of the country it's located in. A US embassy in China is Chinese territory, not American. While individual exceptions might exist by treaty, the general rule is that fleeing into an embassy isn't actually fleeing into a different country.

That has a few consequences; most importantly, there is generally absolutely no process required for the embassy to kick you out, or to call in the local police to arrest you. They may or may not do this depending on your crime. If, like in the case of Julian Assange, there are political factors, they might give you refuge in the embassy. If you're a pickpocket who ran from the cops, they're going to say "Hello, officers, want to come in and arrest this guy?" If you run to another country there's generally an extradition process. If you run to an embassy, there is no formal extradition process as a rule, and they can even call local police inside to arrest you for your crime. Asylum might be a possibility, but some countries (e.g. the US) will not accept asylum applications from embassies; they must be made from US territory.

If you committed a violent crime, they're very likely to kick you out or call the local police to escort you out, possibly at gunpoint. An embassy doesn't have to give shelter to a murderer until bureaucracy denies their asylum request.

  • You answered so much but main point unanswered, then what crime would I be qualified to enter embassy for escape?
    – XPMai
    Dec 29, 2014 at 9:06
  • 8
    @XPMai There are none where you're "qualified". There are things that might get an embassy of certain countries to let you stay there. It's completely dependent on both nature and circumstances of that crime, who the victim is, what the relationship is between the charging country and the embassy's country, etc. If a crime (and criminal) has no political consequences, then no embassy is likely to give refuge; however, the actual offense is almost irrelevant for that, because it depends mostly on the circumstances of the crime.
    – cpast
    Dec 29, 2014 at 16:14
  • The Vienna Convention also provides that "the host country must protect the mission from intrusion or damage," which certainly includes some random criminal walking in uninvited. Arguably, if the embassy calls the local police, they have a duty to respond and remove the offending person from the premises regardless of whether the police actually want to arrest anyone.
    – Kevin
    Oct 24, 2018 at 1:04
  • 3
    @Kevin I agree. The only scenario where a random criminal is not removed is if the embassy doesn't want their removal.
    – cpast
    Oct 24, 2018 at 1:11

Maybe. But, the answer is not as simple as a matter of law.

A country that has no interest in protecting you is not likely to stand its ground for you. They could choose to turn you away as a fugitive at the gates or have you thrown out of the embassy as a trespasser. Even being a citizen of the country does not mean that you are automatically granted access to, and asylum at, an embassy.

So you would want to choose the right embassy. Your best bet would be one that has a history of granting asylum to people of your citizenship. It also depends on why you are fleeing. Accused spies tend to get asylum at enemy states because even if you are not a spy, the counter spy agents can spin your activities to have their counter spy agents chasing false spy's. Of course once your usefulness runs its course they are just as likely to kick you to the curb, and now they will have lots of faked evidence against you.

Your best bet will be to contact that embassy ahead of time. Let them know you wish to seek asylum, and get their agreement to at least hear your pleading before you just try to run into an embassy seeking help.


Although the territory of an embassy is stil part of the country it is located in, the local autorities have no jurastiction there. The confusion comes from the fact that although it's still part of the country, the "Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations" provides immunity to the complete diplomatic mission, including the residing building, what means for example that a crime committed in an embassy did technically not take place in the country where the embassy is and theirfore the country can not prosecute the offence. It becomes a bit more complicated when we talk about sheltering in an embassy. Yes it's true that the ambassador has to permit the host country to enter the proprety and allow them to arrest you, so technically if the ambassador refuses and the countries do not want to provoke a mayor diplomatic crisis, you will probably be safe for a while.

On the point of hiding in other embassies (not of your country). There are a few things you have to keep in mind: Mainly that if you are there at there good will and that the ambassador (and the country to wich he belongs) can kick you out whenever they like.

To avoid that I made a list of criteria to get shelter when abroad: 1.If your country has an embassy: GO THERE. It's the best chance you have for the best possible outcome whatever the reason. 2. In most countries where your own country doesn't have a embassy, they will have a representative which in located in an embassy of another country. If it exist: GO THERE 3.If there is no representative of your country in an embassy where you are, then there is a chance that your country has an arrangement that another country will (at least partially) serve the people of your country until your country can contact you or vice versa.

  1. If non of the above apply: Bad luck, but don't worry yet. If your country has a strong alliance with another country who has an embassy, Go there. They will probably at least sheter you till they can contact your country and clear out the situation as a service to their ally.
  2. If this is not the case their are still possibilities. If your country is part of a integrated organisation (I speak mainly about the EU now), go to one of their embassies. There is a big chance they will help at least until the situation is cleared up and there has been contact with your home country.
  3. If all the previous ones were not possible, you can maybe comfort yourself by the idea that the situation in which you now are is really rare. Now you'll have to think about which embassy you'll choose, but there are a few general rules. a) Do not pick an embassy of a mainly neutral country, because they will probably not let you in to avoid conflict. b) Do not pick an embassy of a country with close ties with the host country, because they will avoid conflict. c)Your best chance is an embassy of a liberal open country with some diplomatic weight. This means for example most western-european countries, South korea, Japan, most citystates, possibly the United States of america. The chance that you reached this point without being able to find at least some help is almost impossible, but the last possibility you can do is just enter a random embassy and hope for the best.

FOOTNOTE A consulate does NOT have diplomatic immunity with only a handfull exceptions. So seeking temporary safety does ONLY work when it's an embassy or when it's decided otherwise between the 2 countries.


An interesting question. I don't how many times I've seen a felon run to their embassy in movies or television series: more recently in the quacky and skittish British tele-drama By Any Means. Here, a corporate ass-hat wanted for murder grabs his passport and literally throws himself at the embassy doors demanding refuge. The police have no choice but to exit the premises.

Once the embassy knew the charge they should've (and could have) invited the London Metropolitan Police inside to arrest him! After seeing this in films like Lethal Weapon I would've thought script writers would use decent researchers to depict the issue correctly but hell, it's good television! And television is what gives people the wrong idea.

It's a false premise that an embassy is on the "soil of the sender country." So, if you're wanted for a felony -even a serious white collar felony - don't take your chances at an embassy. Most embassies are in a country at that same country's pleasure. The embassy doesn't want to tick off the host nation.

Certain political refugees like Assange are famous in print before the event causing the embassy to see this as a human rights issue. But it gives us normal bods too much misplaced confidence.

  • 1
    Welcome to politics stack exchange. Can you maybe share some links to some documents or publications the television script writers should read to get a better idea of how embassy asylum works?
    – Philipp
    Dec 2, 2016 at 9:10
  • I would think that embassies don't want "corporate ass-hats wanted for murder" in the embassy. So getting on with the host country is only a secondary problem, the primary problem for the felon is that the embassy either allows police in, or throws the felon out. Unless you have a tiny embassy with one ambassador and one secretary, typical embassies would have no problem removing you against your will.
    – gnasher729
    Aug 1, 2018 at 22:35

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .