The Department of State was created under Section 6 of Article IV of the Constitution of July 25, 1952. This section decrees that the Governor shall be assisted by a Council of Secretaries, among which a Secretary of State, whom the Governor will name with the advice and consent of the Senate and the House of Representatives. It is also established that the Secretary of State is the constitutional successor of the Chief Executive in his or her absence.
As one of the most important governmental bodies, the Department of State is responsible for encouraging cultural, political and economic relations between Puerto Rico and foreign countries as well as with other jurisdictions in the United States of America. It also carries out various administrative services such as:
- Circulate, publish, certify, and advertise the laws and regulations of the Government of Puerto Rico;
- Regulate the use of the flag and the coats of arms of Puerto Rico;
- Issue licenses for the exercise of professions or trades regulated by the State through Examiner Boards;
- Prepare and guard diverse registries: consuls; corporations and societies; trademarks; public notaries and intellectual property, among others.
- Process passport applications for the citizens of the United States of America, which is a task delegated by the Federal Government;
- Coordinate all Government related protocol matters;
In addition, it keeps a record of the government posts appointments made by the Chief Executive; publishes the announcements issued by the latter or by the Secretary of State, and assists people visiting the Island for research or educational purposes through the Department’s Cultural Exchange and Technical Cooperation section.
The Department of State currently resides in two structures classified as sites of historical interest in Old San Juan: the Royal Administration Building and the Provincial Council Office.