Define: FSIA

Quick Summary of FSIA

The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) is a piece of legislation that provides protection to foreign governments against lawsuits in U.S. courts. It requires individuals seeking to sue a foreign government to adhere to specific guidelines and obtain approval from the U.S. government beforehand. This law plays a crucial role in preserving positive diplomatic relations between the United States and other nations.

Full Definition Of FSIA

The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) is a law that grants immunity to foreign countries from being sued in United States courts. For instance, if a U.S. citizen wishes to sue the government of France for a failed business deal, the FSIA would prevent them from doing so in a U.S. court due to France’s status as a foreign sovereign with immunity under this law. This example demonstrates how the FSIA safeguards foreign countries from legal action in U.S. courts. Even if a person has a valid claim against a foreign government, they are unable to sue them in the United States unless there is an exception to the FSIA. This law helps uphold positive relations between the United States and other countries by respecting their sovereignty.


The FSIA stands for the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which is a U.S. federal law that governs the immunity of foreign states from the jurisdiction of U.S. courts.

The FSIA covers foreign states, their political subdivisions, agencies, and instrumentalities. It does not cover individuals or private corporations.

The FSIA aims to provide a framework for resolving disputes involving foreign states while respecting their sovereign immunity. It establishes the conditions under which foreign states can be sued in U.S. courts.

Yes, a foreign state can be sued in a U.S. court if the case falls within one of the exceptions to sovereign immunity outlined in the FSIA. These exceptions include commercial activity, property disputes, and certain tort claims.

The commercial activity exception allows a foreign state to be sued in a U.S. court if the claim is based on a commercial activity carried out by the foreign state or its agency or instrumentality within the United States.

Yes, a foreign state can still claim immunity under the FSIA even if the case falls within an exception. However, the burden is on the foreign state to establish its entitlement to immunity.

Yes, a U.S. citizen can sue a foreign state in a U.S. court for a personal injury caused by the foreign state if the injury occurred within the United States and falls within one of the exceptions to sovereign immunity.

Yes, a foreign state can be held liable for the actions of its employees if those actions fall within the scope of their employment and the employee would be personally liable under similar circumstances.

No, a foreign state cannot be sued for punitive damages under the FSIA. The FSIA only allows for compensatory damages, which are intended to compensate the injured party for their losses.

Yes, a judgment obtained against a foreign state under the FSIA can be enforced in the United States. However, enforcement may be subject to certain limitations and procedures outlined in the FSIA and other applicable laws.


This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 30th April 2024.

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