A diplomatic courier is an official who transports diplomatic bags as sanctioned under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Couriers are granted diplomatic immunity and are thereby protected by the receiving state from arrest and detention when performing their work. Couriers may be assigned on an ad hoc basis, but in those cases they are released from immunity once their bags have been delivered. All couriers are provided documentation that reports their status as couriers and the number of packages currently being transported in the diplomatic bag. Diplomatic bags may be transported under the authority of commercial airline captains, but they are not diplomatic couriers.
The Diplomatic Courier Service transported 116,351 items weighing approximately 5,353,000 pounds in 2017. The only time in its history where an item didn't reach the destination was in 1919 where a baby piano was lost during transit.
"Foreign Service Diplomatic Courier" has a starting salary at Foreign Service grade FP-6. Couriers are trained for roughly twelve to fourteen weeks in Washington, D.C., and during their careers may be assigned to one of various offices around the world, including Dakar, Senegal; Bangkok, Thailand; Frankfurt, Germany; Manama, Bahrain; Pretoria, South Africa; Seoul, South Korea; Washington, D.C.; São Paulo, Brazil and Miami, Florida.
- "Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations" (PDF). United Nations. 2005. Retrieved 2009-11-23.
- Adams, Eric (9 January 2018). "Riding With the Diplomatic Couriers Who Deliver America's Secret Mail". Wired. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
- "U.S. Department of State Careers - Diplomatic Courier". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2009-11-23.