Policy & History

View southwest at the new U.S. Embassy London in Nine Elms, across park. Photographer: Richard Bryant/arcaidimages.com
View southwest at the new U.S. Embassy London in Nine Elms, across park. Photographer: Richard Bryant/arcaidimages.com
The American Embassy

In 2008 the Embassy purchased a site in the Nine Elms area of Wandsworth with construction starting in 2013.   The U.S. flag was raised on the new Embassy building on January 12, 2018 and the new Embassy opened to the public on Tuesday, January 16, 2018.

The former U.S. Embassy Chancery building was located in Grosvenor Square.

History of the Special Relationship

The first, short-lived British colony in Virginia was organized in 1584, and permanent English settlement began in 1607. The United States declared its independence from Great Britain in 1776. The American Revolutionary War ended in 1783, with Great Britain recognizing U.S. independence. The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1785. The United States broke relations when it declared war on the United Kingdom during the War of 1812; relations were reestablished in 1815.

The United States has no closer ally than the United Kingdom, and British foreign policy emphasizes close coordination with the United States. Bilateral cooperation reflects the common language, ideals, and democratic practices of the two nations. Relations were strengthened by the United Kingdom’s alliance with the United States during both World Wars, in the Korean conflict, in the Persian Gulf War, in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and in Afghanistan, as well as through its role as a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The United Kingdom and the United States continually consult on foreign policy issues and global problems and share major foreign and security policy objectives.

Regarding Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, “Nationalist” and “Republican” groups seek a united Ireland that includes Northern Ireland, while “Unionists” and “Loyalists” want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom. U.S. priorities continue to be supporting the peace process and devolved political institutions in Northern Ireland and encouraging the implementation of the U.S.-brokered 1998 Belfast Agreement, also known as the Good Friday Agreement, and the 2006 St. Andrews Agreement.

U.S. Assistance to the United Kingdom

The International Fund for Ireland (IFI), created in 1986, provides funding for projects to generate cross-community engagement and economic opportunity in Northern Ireland (the United Kingdom) and the border counties of Ireland. Since the IFI’s establishment, the United States and EU have contributed the vast majority of funds, with the United States allocating more than $540 million.

Bilateral Economic Relations

The United Kingdom is a member of the European Union and a major international trading power. The United Kingdom is one of the largest markets for U.S. goods exports and one of the largest suppliers of U.S. imports. The United States and the United Kingdom share the world’s largest bilateral foreign direct investment partnerships. The United Kingdom is a large source of foreign tourists visiting the United States. It participates in the Visa Waiver Program, which allows nationals of participating countries to travel to the United States for certain business or tourism purposes for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa.

The United Kingdom’s Membership in International Organizations

Both the United Kingdom and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, G-20, G-8, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. The United Kingdom also is an observer to the Organization of American States.

U.S. Flag is raised at the new U.S. Embassy in London, January 12, 2018.
U.S. Flag is raised at the new U.S. Embassy in London, January 12, 2018.

Bilateral Representation

The Ambassador, or Chief of Mission, is the highest ranking American official in the United Kingdom.  The position’s full title is “Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary”. It is “extraordinary” in that the Ambassador is the personal representative of the President of the United States to Her Majesty the Queen.  The “plenipotentiary” in the title indicates full power to negotiate.  As well as being responsible for the work of the various sections of the Embassy, the Ambassador coordinates the activities of all departments and agencies of the United States Government with representatives in Britain.  The current Ambassador is Robert Wood Johnson.

Assisting the Ambassador is the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM), a position carrying the rank of Minister.  The DCM is responsible for the day to-day running of the Embassy and also undertakes high-level representation, negotiation, appraisal, and reporting duties.  In the Ambassador’s absence the Minister becomes Chargé D’Affaires ad interim ( Chargé D’Affaires a. i.), thereby assuming all the Ambassador’s functions and responsibilities. The current Chargé d’Affaires is Lewis Lukens.

Representatives from the U.S. State Department and 26 other U.S. Government agencies manage portfolios concerning economic, commercial and agricultural affairs, consular and immigration issues, customs, transportation, and law enforcement activities, as well as political and military relations, and public affairs.

Past & Present Representation

Currently the U.S. Mission to the United Kingdom includes the U.S. Embassy London, our UK Consulates General in Belfast and in Edinburgh, Consulate General Hamilton, Bermuda and Virtual Presence Post (VPP) Cardiff/Wales.

Historically, there has been a strong Consular presence within the United Kingdom. The full list of all diplomatic and Consular posts within the UK is curated at the Office of the Historian ;from the 1960’s onwards the remaining Consular District Posts were closed thus:

  • Consulate Manchester (closed 30 August 1963)
  • Consulate Cardiff (closed 30 August 1963)
  • Consulate Birmingham (closed 31 October 1965)
  • Consulate Southampton  (closed 31 October 1965)
  • Consulate Glasgow  (closed 31 October 1965)
  • Consulate General Liverpool (closed 28 May 1976)

UK help and services in USA

The United Kingdom maintains an embassy in the United States at 3100 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008; tel. 202-588-6500.

Ambassadors to the UK and VIP Visits

A table of all American Diplomats who have served in the United Kingdom is available here.

USA in UK

Our History in Grosvenor Square

Resources & Reports

More information about the United Kingdom is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here: