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Department of State

Mailing Address: 2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Phone: 202-647-4000
Employees: 50,000
Secretary: John Kerry

Career Page

The Department of State is the federal agency dealing with foreign policy and oversees passports, visas and U.S. embassies in foreign countries.

The Department of State is the main institution for the conduct of American diplomacy and the Secretary of State is the President’s principal foreign policy advisor. All foreign affairs activities – U.S. representation abroad, foreign assistance programs, countering international crime, foreign military training programs, services the Department provides to American citizens abroad, and many others – are paid for by the foreign affairs budget, which represents about one percent of the total federal budget.

A list of U.S. embassies in over 190 countries can be seen here.

On February 1, 2013, former Senator John Kerry was sworn in as 68th Secretary of State, replacing Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Secretary of State is fourth-in-line of succession to the President of the United States.

The fiscal 2015 budget request for the State Department and USAID totals $46.2 billion, which includes a base request of $40.3 billion, the same amount from 2014. Most of this money would be used for aid in foreign countries.


The House of Representatives and Senate approved legislation to establish a Department of Foreign Affairs on July 21, 1789, and President Washington signed it into law on July 27, making the Department of Foreign Affairs the first Federal agency to be created under the new Constitution.

In September 1789, additional legislation changed the name of the agency to the Department of State and assigned to it a variety of domestic duties.

This law changed the name of the Department of Foreign Affairs to the Department of State because certain domestic duties were assigned to the agency. These included:

* Receipt, publication, distribution, and preservation of the laws of the United States;
* Preparation, sealing, and recording of the commissions of presidential appointees;
* Preparation and authentication of copies of records and authentication of copies under the Department's seal;
* Custody of the Great Seal of the United States;
* Custody of the records of the former Secretary of the Continental Congress, except for those of the Treasury and War Departments.

Other domestic duties that the Department was responsible for at various times included:

* Issuance of patents on inventions;
* Publication of the census returns;
* Management of the Mint;
* Control of copyrights; and
* Regulation of immigration.

Most domestic functions have been transferred to other agencies. Those that remain in the Department are:

* Storage and use of the Great Seal;
* Performance of protocol functions for the White House;
* Drafting of certain presidential proclamations; and
* Replies to public inquiries.

Updated May 21, 2014