Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Persona Non Grata Definition:

Latin: an unwelcome person. A diplomat who is no longer welcome to the government to which he is accredited.

Related Terms: Diplomat, Diplomatic Immunity, Trespass

In his 1973 book on the law of diplomacy, professor Gamboa wrote of persona non grata:

"An expression in reference to a diplomat who is no longer welcome to the government to which he is accredited after he has already been received and has entered upon his duties, or before arriving in the territory of the receiving State.

"Diplomats have been declared persona non grata for making disparaging remarks against the host government; violating its laws; interfering with its politics; meddling with its domestic affairs; using offensive language against it; criticizing its head of state ... and a similar grounds.

"Usually the appended host government requests for sending diplomats to recall the offending diplomat. This request is normally complied with."

persona non grataIn their International Law Dictionary, Bledsoe and Boleslaw define the term as follows:

"A Latin term indicating that a diplomatic agent of a state is unacceptable to the receiving state. This can take place either before the individual is accredited, indicating that the proposed appointee is unacceptable to the host state and will not be received, or after the accreditation process in response to some real or alleged impropriety by the diplomatic agent.

"Proclaiming a diplomat persona non grata usually results from an unfriendly attitude toward the (prospective) receiving state, violation of its laws or of international law, or improper diplomatic behavior or indiscretions, although the host state may proclaim a diplomat persona non grata for any or no reason. The sending state must then recall its agent or, should not recall occur, the host state may ignore the presence of the diplomatic agent or expel the diplomat from its territory."

The process of dealing with diplomats who are no longer welcome has now been fully recognized by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, at Article 9:

"The receiving State may at any time and without having to explain its decision, notify the sending State that the head of the mission or any member of the diplomatic staff of the mission is persona non grata or that any other member of the staff of the mission is not acceptable. In any such case, the sending State shall, as appropriate, either recall the person concerned or terminate his functions with the mission. A person may be declared non grata or not acceptable before arriving in the territory of the receiving State. If the sending State refuses or fails within a reasonable period to carry out its obligations ... the receiving State may refuse to recognize the person concerned as a member of the mission."

In tort law, an individual who has been formally warned, usually by a method called persona non grata letter, that he or she is not welcome on private property (eg. a university or a store), he or she is considered to be persona non grata as regards the identified premises and would be subject to conviction for trespassing if he or she attempted thereafter to enter upon those premises.


  • Bledsoe, Robert and Boczek, Boleslaw, The International Law Dictionary (Oxford: ABC-CLIO, 1987), page 112
  • Gamboa, Melquiades, A Dictionary of International Law and Diplomacy (Quezon City, Philippines: Phoenix Press, 1973), pages 210-211
  • United States v. Kostadinov, 734 F. 2d 905 (1984)
  • Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, Done at Vienna on 18 April 1961. Entered into force on 24 April 1964. United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 500, p. 95.

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