Suppose a receiving State wants to expel diplomats representing the sending State.

My question is, what is the legal method of expelling a diplomat; in case the sending State refuses to comply with the request?
Can they deport the person in some sense, or revoke the diplomatic immunity?

Relevant articles from the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961 are mentioned below.

9.1 The receiving State may at any time and without having to explain its decision, notify the sending State that the head of the mission or any member of the diplomatic staff of the mission is persona non grata or that any other member of the staff of the mission is not acceptable. In any such case, the sending State shall, as appropriate, either recall the person concerned or terminate his functions with the mission. A person may be declared non grata or not acceptable before arriving in the territory of the receiving State.

11.1 In the absence of specific agreement as to the size of the mission, the receiving State may require that the size of a mission be kept within limits considered by it to be reasonable and normal, having regard to circumstances and conditions in the receiving State and to the needs of the particular mission.


1 Answer 1


Article 39(2):

When the functions of a person enjoying privileges and immunities have come to an end, such privileges and immunities shall normally cease at the moment when he leaves the country, or on expiry of a reasonable period in which to do so, but shall subsist until that time, even in case of armed conflict. However, with respect to acts performed by such a person in the exercise of his functions as a member of the mission, immunity shall continue to subsist.

The receiving state has to give the diplomat a reasonable chance to leave, which will normally be specified in the persona non grata (PNG) notification. If the now-former diplomat refuses to leave, the receiving state can revoke immunity. They can’t punish for stuff done as part of their diplomatic role, but they can punish for any further crimes and can also deport the person.

  • 1
    After removing immunity, they don't hold a valid visa, so can be deported I presume?
    – whoisit
    Oct 21, 2023 at 23:25
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    @whoisit The Convention doesn't specify the domestic legal mechanism by which the former diplomat is expelled (nor should it have to). It may or may not be considered a form of deportation under the domestic laws.
    – Brian
    Oct 22, 2023 at 2:51
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    Most civilised countries are also loathe to go in and get the offending person from the embassy. If you wait long enough, they'll come out eventually.
    – Richard
    Oct 22, 2023 at 10:36
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    @Richard Yes, because going in to the embassy to get the person - unless invited in by the mission - would be a breach of the rules about the inviolable nature of embassies. To do that without breaching the Vienna Convention the host nation would have to shut down the entire embassy, not just declare one person PNG.
    – bdsl
    Oct 22, 2023 at 16:57
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    @bdsl - The UK govt considered lots of options to get Assange from the Ecuadorians, including making their building 'not an embassy' for a few minutes. In the end they decided against it because it would set a poor precedent; ejiltalk.org/…. That's not to say that it wouldn't have been legal, just not advisable.
    – Richard
    Oct 22, 2023 at 17:00

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