Difference Between Ambassador and High Commissioner

The Government of India appoints officers who act as representatives in different nations. These representatives are officers of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), who are responsible for the execution of India’s foreign policy. 

In some nations, they are called ambassadors while in others they are known as high commissioners. There are subtle differences between the two which this article will try its utmost to highlight.

Differnce Between Ambassador and High Commissioner

Aspirants can find more Difference Between Articles, by visiting the linked page

The detailed difference between an Ambassador and High Commissioner  is given in the table below:                                            

Differences between Ambassador and High Commissioner

High Commissioner


High Commissioner is the term used for representatives to the Commonwealth of Nations. It is what they use to address each other as well. For example, the representative of the Government in India in Australia is known as the High Commissioner In addition to the Commonwealth Nations,  the representative of the Government of India in other nations is known as an Ambassador. For example, the representative of India in Russia is called the Indian Ambassador to Russia
In Commonwealth nations, the office of the Indian Foreign Ministry is called the high commission The offices of the Indian Foreign Ministry are known as ‘Embassies’ in non-commonwealth countries 
In the British Empire, High Commissioners were envoys of the Imperial government to manage colonies and tributaries not fully under the sovereignty of the empire The rise of modern Ambassadors can be traced back to 17th-century Italian states where their role was altered to serve as diplomats. The states being small in size and vulnerable from other larger entities saw it necessary to develop the ambassador system for information dispersion and external protection through non-violent and far more economical means.
A high commissioner from one Commonwealth nation to another carries a simple informal letter of introduction from one head of government  (In India’s case, the Prime Minister)to that of another. Ambassadors carry formal letters of credence from their head of state addressed to the head of the host country
A High Commissioner would also be put in charge of decolonization, like in the case of the former  Crown colony of the Seychelles, where the last Governor became high commissioner in 1975. Ambassadors not only foster good diplomatic relations between countries but also work for peace by stopping illegal activities such as terrorism, human trafficking, drug trade, etc. 

The Ambassadors and High Commissioners are selected from the ranks of the Indian Foreign Services. For more information about the services they can check the links given below

Difference Between Ambassador and High Commissioner – Download PDF Here

Frequently Asked Questions about Ambassadors and High Commissioner


What is the role of an Ambassador?

An ambassador is the highest-ranking representative to a specific nation or international organization abroad. A key role of an ambassador is to coordinate the activities not only of the Foreign Service Officers and staff serving under him, but also representatives of other Indian agencies.

What is the work of High Commissioner?

A High Commissioner is a senior representative who is sent by one Commonwealth country to live in another in order to work as an ambassador. A High Commissioner is the head of an international commission.

Candidates can find the general pattern of the UPSC Exams by visiting the UPSC Syllabus page. For more articles and exam-related preparation materials, refer to the links given in the table below:

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