How to Tour the U.S. State Department

Updated July 7, 2020.

It’s Museum Monday! This week I’m letting you in on a bit of a secret: You can tour the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Rooms! Well, maybe it’s not a secret, but it’s definitely something most people don’t know or think of when they visit Washington, D.C. My friend Kelly and I recently took a tour ourselves, and I’m letting you in on the process so you can plan to visit, too!

Know Before You Go

  • you must request this tour within 90 days of your desired tour date
  • You will be touring the official Diplomatic Rooms; do not touch or sit on anything
  • Not recommended for children 12 or younger
  • You can book the tour for someone else; under the “Contact Person” section of the tour request page, there is a box to check if the contact person is going on the tour or not
  • Tours are offered Monday-Friday at 9:30am, 10:30am, and 2:45pm
  • Tours are 45 minutes long
  • Strollers, briefcases, backpacks, large purses, computers, and packages are not permitted
  • Two Security officers will be accompanying your tour
  • Your FitBit or other blue-tooth connecting devices must be turned off–sorry, those steps won’t count, but don’t worry because your body will still know
Related: D.C. Tours to Request in Advance

The Process

When I first tried booking my tour, the website was down. If that happens to you, fear not! You can e-mail to request your tour, and they will get back to you in a timely manner. The tour coordinator was very friendly and helpful, which I would never expect in D.C., to be honest. But try this first:

Step 1: Visit and “Click Here”

Here you will find details about when you can request a tour. Click on “click here” to go to the next step.

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State Department Tours Homepage

Step 2: Read the Rules and Regulations

This is very important because if you don’t do it right, you won’t get a tour at all! Read the rules, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and click “here” to fill out the online form.

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Read the Rules Carefully!

Step 3: Fill Out the Online Form

Unless you are bringing a large group, you will need to select “Individual” from the “Request Type” field. Fill in your requested tour date and time, and all the personal information with a red asterisk next to it. Don’t forget to check the “Will Be Attending Tour” box below the Last Name field if you are also planning to attend the tour. Fill out the names of anyone else in your party in the fields below, then click “Submit.”

If you are bringing a large group that exceeds the number of “Other Attendee” fields, send an e-mail to

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Fill Out the Form

Step 4: Wait for Approval and Confirmation E-mails

Now the waiting game! I received my approval and confirmation e-mails minutes apart on the same day I submitted my request, but be patient. Your e-mails may take a day or two to come in, depending on the time of year and how busy they are. The e-mails will tell you when and where to meet, as well as instructions for the day of your tour.

Step 5: Get Ready for Your Tour

Do not forget your ID! This can be a passport, driver’s license, or other government-issued identification. You will have to leave backpacks, large bags, and brief cases elsewhere, but you will not be allowed on the tour without identification. The security officers were on their game, but also very kind–probably the nicest of any agency or government building I’ve toured. Be prepared to go through a metal detector and put your belongings through a security scanner similar to what you’d expect to see at an airport. This is common around D.C., and especially at government agencies.

Related: D.C. Tours You Never Knew You Could Take

The Tour

This was one of the most pleasant tours I’ve ever been on–and I’ve been on and given a lot of tours! Our tour guide was fabulous, and I cannot stress to you how beautiful these Diplomatic Rooms are. You will begin your tour on the 8th floor, and when the elevator doors open, be prepared to be astounded at the stunning early American architecture, design, and furnishings. Each room is decorated with authentic antiques, works of art, and pieces of history! Here are a few of the things you’ll be able to see on your tour. Please enjoy them!

Beautiful entryway right outside the elevators
Beautiful dishes, some from Francis Scott Key
More beautiful dishes. I had to take a picture because my Dad’s favorite color is green!
Beautiful writing desk with corner chair
Silver coffee pot made by Paul Revere for President John Adams
Photo op! The painting above me is “unfinished” because the British representative who was supposed to sit for the painting refused. Sore loser, perhaps?
The Ballroom!

I hope you’re ready for your own tour of the State Department! Are you interested in taking the tour? Have more questions? Comment below! And check out my Washington, D.C., Page for everything you need to know for your trip and more!

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7 responses to “How to Tour the U.S. State Department”

  1. […] This was an incredibly interesting tour! If you love history, international affairs, or antiques, this is the tour for you. And even if you’re not a fan of those things, you might surprise yourself with how much you’ll enjoy this tour. This one you can book on your own through the State Department’s website. Book at least two months in advance. All the details are here for you: How to Tour the U.S. State Department. […]

  2. LOVING all your Washington DC posts – traveling in 13 days with my 2 teenage boys and am soaking up all your advice! Thank you!

    1. You are SO welcome! Feel free to ask any questions you may have! You’re here at the best time of year–everything is open but there are way fewer people to compete with! Have so much fun!

      1. I’m struggling to pack in a tour of the State Dept….I am not sure we can swing it given our other already scheduled tours (FBI, Capitol, Pentagon). This might be one we have to skip, even though I did get confirmation email for a time slot.

      2. Wow! Good for you getting approved for all those already! I love it when people are on the ball–there are so many great things to do in D.C. that require advanced planning. If you can fit it in, I highly recommend it, but it sounds like you are covering a ton of bases!

  3. Thank you so much for taking the time to post this info! I’ve recently moved to DC for a short contract and didn’t know these more obscure tours existed. I’ve now booked several of them!

    1. quickwhittravel Avatar

      I’m so glad! I have a post coming out on Thursday of “Tours You Never Knew You Could Take”! Stay tuned! 🙌 Love that you’re making the most of your time here!

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