The head of the apostolic nunciature is called a nuncio, an ecclesiastical diplomatic title. A papal nuncio (officially known as an Apostolic nuncio) is a permanent diplomatic representative (head of diplomatic mission) of the Holy See to a state or to one of two international intergovernmental organizations, the European Union or ASEAN, having the rank of an ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary, and the ecclesiastical rank of titular archbishop. Papal representatives to other intergovernmental organizations are known as "permanent observers" or "delegates".
In several countries that have diplomatic relations with the Holy See, the Apostolic Nuncio is ipso facto the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps. The nuncio is first in the order of precedence among all the diplomats accredited to the country, and he speaks for the diplomatic corps in matters of diplomatic privilege and protocol. Most countries that concede priority to the nuncio are officially Catholic, but some are not.
In addition, the nuncio serves as the liaison between the Holy See and the Church in that particular nation. The nuncio has an important role in the selection of bishops.
The Pope accredits diplomats with the following states and other subjects of international law (list as per January 2010):
Algeria, Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Botswana, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo (Republic of), Congo (Democratic Republic of), Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sénégal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, México, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela
Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Republic of China (Taiwan), East Timor, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam (Non-Resident), Yemen.
Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, European Union, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine
Australia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu.
An Apostolic delegate may be sent to liaison between the Catholic Church and a country with which the Holy See has no diplomatic ties, though not accredited to the government of the country. Apostolic delegates have no formal diplomatic status, though in some countries they have some diplomatic privileges.