Difference Between Ambassador and High Commissioner

Main Difference –  Ambassador vs. High Commissioner

The main difference between Ambassador and High Commissioner is that an ambassador is the head of the embassy, and a high commissioner is the head of the high commission. Both of them are high-ranked people with special executive positions. This difference between Ambassador and High Commissioner stems from the difference between embassy and high commission. So, we have to know the meaning of these two terms in order to understand the difference between Ambassador and High Commissioner.

Who is an Ambassador

As mentioned above, the ambassador is the head of the embassy. Ambassador is an accredited diplomat sent by a state as its permanent representative in a foreign country. The term ambassador is linked with the term embassy. An embassy can be simply described as a diplomatic mission of a country represented in another country. Embassy can also refer to the official residence or offices of the ambassador.

An ambassador acts as the official communication channel between the two countries. He has an important role in foreign relations as embassy plays an active role in areas such as politics, trade, travel and tourism. They also deal with visa issuing and handling issues concerning tourists. For example, if we face a problem while traveling in a foreign country, it is the embassy of our home country that comes to our aid. In short, an embassy is a representation of one country in another country and the ambassador is the chief representative officer.

Main Difference - Ambassador vs. High Commissioner

The Indian Embassy in Prague

Who is a High Commissioner

A high commissioner is the head of a high commission. A high commission can be simply described as an embassy of one commonwealth country in another commonwealth country. The Commonwealth is an international association consisting of the United Kingdom and the states that were previously part of the British Empire, and dependencies.

A high commissioner can be termed as a senior diplomat, ranking as an ambassador who is in charge of the diplomatic missions of one Commonwealth nation to another. In fact, a high commissioner can be simply described as an ambassador of a Commonwealth country in another. For example, the head of the British diplomatic mission in India is called British High Commissioner while the Russian (which is not a part of the Commonwealth) diplomatic mission in India is called the Russian Embassy.

Thus, it should be clear to you that the difference between ambassador and high commissioner is that ambassador is the head of a diplomatic mission or an embassy in a non-commonwealth country whereas high commissioner is  the head of a diplomatic mission in a commonwealth country.

Difference Between Ambassador and High Commissioner

The Tanzanian High Commission in London.

Difference Between Ambassador and High Commissioner


Ambassador is the chief diplomat in an embassy.

High Commissioner is the chief diplomat in a high commission.

Type of Country

Ambassador heads the diplomatic missions between non-commonwealth countries.

High Commissioner heads the diplomatic missions between commonwealth countries.


The head of the French diplomatic mission in India is called the French Ambassador.

The head of the British diplomatic mission in India is called British High Commissioner.

Image Courtesy:

“Indian embassy Prague 6075″ by Kenyh Cevarom – Self-photographed. via

“Tanzanian High Commission in London” by Mark Kobayashi-Hillary from London, United Kingdom – High Commission of Tanzania. via

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