A temporary capital or a provisional capital is a city or town chosen by a government as an interim base of operations due to some difficulty in retaining or establishing control of a different metropolitan area. The most common circumstances leading to this are either a civil war, where control of the capital is contested, or during an invasion, where the designated capital is taken or threatened.
- During the lead-up to and the early weeks of the American Civil War, the provisional government of the Confederate States of America met in Montgomery, Alabama, before relocating to Richmond, Virginia after Virginia joined the Confederacy. Likewise, after the fall of Richmond in 1865, the government evacuated to Danville, Virginia.
- During the Colombian Civil War (1860–1862), Pasto was declarated temporary capital by the leaders of the Colombian Conservative Party.
- During the Hungarian War of Independence (1848-1849) the government moved from Pest-Buda to Debrecen.
- During World War II due to evacuation actions the Soviet Union had different de facto capitals:
- Kuybyshev (now Samara) — planned temporary capital in case of occupation of Moscow and de facto temporary administrative and diplomatic capital
- Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg) — de facto temporary industrial capital
- Kazan — de facto temporary scientific capital
- Tyumen — de facto temporary spiritual capital
- Similarly the Republic of China maintained a temporary capital in Chongqing while Japan occupied Nanjing in the Second Sino-Japanese War, and following the Chinese Civil War the Republic of China established Taipei as the capital.
- The Pan-Russian "White" regime of A. Kolchak in Omsk during the Russian Revolution
- During the Spanish Civil War, the Nationalists initially had a temporary capital at Burgos; once the Nationalists started to besiege Madrid, the Republicans maintained temporary capitals first at Valencia then at Barcelona and finally it returned to Valencia when Barcelona fell to the nationalist advance.
- During the British Raj rule of India, some parts of the administration temporarily moved each summer to Simla, where the weather is cooler.
- The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic in Bir Lehlou, rather than El Aaiún, Western Sahara, but with its de facto headquarters in Tindouf, Algeria.
- The government of Somalia in various locations within its territory rather than Mogadishu.
- Lithuania in Kaunas rather than Vilnius during the interwar period when Poland controlled the latter city (see Temporary capital of Lithuania).
- The Parliament of Finland moved from Helsinki to Kauhajoki during the Winter War.
- In the Korean War, the South Korean government temporarily moved its capital to Pusan (Busan) before the Korean People's Army advance which conquered and occupied Seoul. South Korea reestablished Seoul as the permanent capital of South Korea after the Korean War Armistice.
- The First Philippine Republic government under Emilio Aguinaldo has had four different temporary capitals throughout the Philippine Revolution against Spanish colonization and subsequent American occupation: Malolos, Bacolor, Cabanatuan, and Palanan.
- During the Libyan Civil War, the National Transitional Council (NTC) declared its base of operations in Benghazi to be the temporary capital of the Libyan Republic, as the NTC had previously declared its capital to be Tripoli, controlled by Muammar Gaddafi's Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
- During World War I, the government of Romania moved to Iaşi after the fall of Bucharest to the Central powers
- Following World War I, Berlin as the capital was considered too dangerous for the National Assembly to use as a meeting place, because of its street rioting after the 1918 German Revolution. Therefore the calm and centrally located Weimar was chosen as the temporary capital (see Weimar Republic).