Director Protocol and Consular Services
Ms Joanna Pisani
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Valletta VLT 1171
Tel: (+356) 2204 2351
Fax: (+356) 21 240 083
Directorate Protocol and Consular Services
The Protocol and Consular Services Directorate (PCSD) is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ first point of contact. 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 PCSD. 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, PCSD 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.
PCSD 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, PCSD asks for the agrément of Maltese Ambassadors or High Commissioners deployed abroad and assists them with the receiving states’ Ceremony of Presentation of Credentials.
PCSD 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 MaltaInternationalAirport.
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 PCSD 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 PCSD, the Defence Matters Directorate, the Department of Civil Aviation, the Armed Forces of Malta and the Malta Maritime Authority.
General consular assistance
An equally important function of the PCSD which is of particular interest to the general public are the consular services offered to Maltese citizens in distress while abroad. This Directorate, with the invaluable assistance of our diplomatic staff serving abroad, provides a broad array of services to Maltese individuals, ranging from medical assistance, victims of crime, and loss or theft of travel documents.
In such situations, PCSD acts as the point of contact between the individual who is abroad and his family at home, facilitates financial transactions when needed, and in countries where Malta has a diplomatic presence, ensures that Maltese diplomatic agents, whenever possible, visit and assist the person in distress. The Directorate also helps in searching for Maltese citizens reported missing while abroad or provides information to his family who seeks information in this regard.
Arrest or detention while abroad
Whenever a Maltese national is arrested or sentenced by a foreign court, MFA acts as the means of communication between the detained individual and his family in Malta, and tries to ensure that the convicted citizen has access to adequate legal representation in a language that he or she understands.
Emergency or crisis situations
Whenever a country or region is affected by an emergency or crisis situation, such as a natural disaster or terrorist attack, PCSD serves as the point of contact between Maltese nationals who may get caught in the crisis and their concerned families at home. In such cases, MFA sets up an ad hoc Emergency Crisis Centre, equipped with emergency telephone lines to address the public’s queries. The Directorate also maintains constant communication, through its Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates, with the local authorities where the crisis occurred and also with other EU member states.
Visa applications and travel advice
PCSD assists Maltese nationals to obtain an entry visa to countries which require it. The Directorate also provides general information regarding other countries’ visa requirements to Maltese citizens. We also provide travel advice to Maltese nationals who may need to travel to countries where the political situation or otherwise may be of danger to them.
This Directorate assists Maltese couples who are planning to adopt foreign children. Before these children are issued with a visa enabling them to enter Malta, the MFA scrutinises all documents to ensure that both local and foreign legal obligations are correctly observed.
PCSD has a legalisation unit which issues so-called Apostilles or Legalisations. Apostilles and legalisations are authorised endorsements of public or commercial documents that are officially recognised by both the country of issue and the country in which they are to be used.
Local and foreign governments offer a number of scholarships for Maltese citizens who may wish to follow up theirs studies abroad. Following an official notification of an offered scholarship, PCSD issues a press release, distributes and receives applications from interested parties, and coordinates interviews, where necessary. We also offer practical guidance to successful candidates.
Every legal process that involves Maltese and foreign jurisdictions, seeks PCSD’s assistance, which through its network of Embassies and Consulates abroad, serves as the main point of contact between the juridical authorities of the countries concerned.
Repatriation is a complex process that requires constant cooperation with the countries of origin. If persons entering Malta illegally do not qualify for either asylum or humanitarian status, DPCS liaises with the local immigration authorities, Maltese missions and countries of origin to establish their true identity and nationality for issuance of the necessary travel documents and logistic arrangements for repatriation.