National Capital Planning Commission



NCPC assists foreign governments with finding suitable locations for their facilities and ensures that their development is compatible with adjacent neighborhood uses.

What's in a Name?

Buildings that house diplomatic functions are commonly called embassies. Embassies have several types of facilities that may or may not be located together:
  • Chancery: Principal office of a foreign mission

  • Chancery Annex: An office that supports a foreign mission, such as a cultural or military attaché, trade office, or consulate

  • Ambassadorial Residence: Official home of the ambassador

The Foreign Missions Act of 1982 establishes the procedures and criteria for the location, replacement, and expansion of chanceries and chancery annexes.

Planning Challenges

The expanding role of foreign missions is fueling demand for larger, specialized facilities with more parking.

NCPC cooperates with the Department of State and the District of Columbia to:

  • Satisfy demand for new facilities within the District’s boundaries

  • Maximize the contribution of foreign missions to the city’s cultural and economic life

  • Ensure that embassies reinforce the character of Washington’s neighborhoods
Diplomatic Districts help accommodate facility demand by leasing low-cost federal land to foreign governments. They provide matter-of-right parcels that are not subject to zoning review, and they help avoid the protracted negotiations that can occur when locating on private property.

The International Center—a diplomatic district in Northwest DC—was established in 1968. The 47-acre campus is now fully developed with 19 embassies.

NCPC is now identifying opportunities for the creation of new diplomatic districts.

Reviewed Projects

Chancery of Morocco Read Staff Recommendation
Morocco (August 2007)
People's Republic of China Chancery People's Republic of China Embassy
China (February 2004)
United Arab Emirates Chancery Read Staff Recommendation
United Arab Emirates (April 2009)

Related Publications

Foreign Missions Overview Brochure

Comprehensive Plan: Foreign Missions and International Organizations Element

Future Location Analysis

Economic and Fiscal Impact Study

Home|Site Map|Accessibility|Privacy, Freedom of Information & Disclosure|FAIR Act|No Fear Act|Contact Us
National Capital Planning Commission, 401 9th Street, NW, Washington DC 20004
Phone: 202-482-7200  |  Fax: 202-482-7272  |  Email: