Procedures for Citizen Complaints Regarding Foreign Mission Property

As the National’s Capital, Washington DC is home to one of the world’s largest communities of foreign diplomatic missions and international organizations. While all missions are expected to comply with applicable local laws and regulations, and most are good neighbors, there may be occasions when residents encounter problems with a Foreign Mission or its members. The following information outlines the steps a citizen should follow in such cases.

1. Contact the Foreign Mission

In many cases problems can be resolved quickly and efficiently by calling the Foreign Mission and bringing the matter to the attention of the head of administration. Foreign Mission officials may be unaware of the problem or that an existing condition is a violation of a local ordinance. A letter or a polite conversation with an individual handling administrative matters at the Foreign Mission will often solve the problem.

2. Contact the ANC Representative

In cases where contacting the Foreign Mission is not possible, or its response is unsatisfactory, the resident may call the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) for assistance. The ANC representative may choose to contact the Foreign Mission directly on the resident’s behalf, or bring the matter to the attention of the office of the Secretary of the District of Columbia.

3. Contact the Office of the Secretary of the District of Columbia

If, after contacting the Embassy directly and working with the appropriate ANC office, the issue remains unresolved, the citizen may contact the Office of the Secretary of the District of Columbia at the address set out below. This Office is responsible for coordinating the response of the DC Government to citizen complaints.

Depending on the nature of the complaint and its documentation, the Secretary’s office may contact the Foreign Mission, or in the case of alleged DC Code violations, the responsible office in the DC Government. The Secretary’s office will also determine whether the U.S. State Department should become involved.

The Office of the Secretary of the District of Columbia
The John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Suite 419
Telephone: 727-6306
Contact: Patricia Elwood
or, if not there, the Secretary, Cynthia Brock-Smith

4. Intervention of the Department of State

The Department of State is prepared to use its good offices to find solutions to problems that the parties, after exhausting Steps 1 through 3 above, have been unable to mutually resolve. The Department’s Office of Foreign Missions works with the DC Government, particularly the Office of the Secretary of District, in assisting both citizens and foreign missions. Citizens may direct their inquiries, including details of the citizen’s written correspondence and discussions with the Foreign Mission, ANC, and the District Governments to:

By mail:

Department of State
Office of Foreign Missions
Property Tax Services and Benefits
2201 C Street, NW, Room 2236
Washington, DC 20520

By E-mail:

By fax: 202-736-4145