A Ministry of Foreign Affairs modernizes consular services around the world with Claris FileMaker

The Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs inaugurated a solution that digitalized its consular affairs abroad and ensured the interconnectivity of 89 embassies and consulates.
3 July 2024 • 5 min


Government / consular affairs




Centralize and secure processes and data in a single online system across multiple countries with 24/7 availability.

Manage data records in Arabic.

Reduce IT spending.


Highly scalable centralized solution with integrated workflows designed specifically for consular affairs.

Deployed in 89 embassies and consulates across multiple time zones and connected with other Ministries.


  • Reduced turnaround time to issue citizen documents;
  • Citizens can request any supported document from any of 89 embassies and consulates around the world;
  • Document validity checks can be performed instantly by government employees with secure access to the system;
  • Data centralization and strengthened security improve document traceability and guarantee continuity of consular services.  

Three years ago, the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs inaugurated a solution that digitalized its consular affairs abroad and ensured the interconnectivity of 89 embassies and consulates. Issuing documents became a matter of a few minutes’ work. Their traceability, data security and IT costs gave government employees peace of mind. This transformation didn’t happen overnight, but the convergence of the right people, the right technology and the right cost made it possible.

What did it take to digitize consular affairs and ensure connectivity across nearly a hundred embassies and consulates located in multiple time zones? And to centralize citizen data in an ultra-secure way, fostering open collaboration among multiple ministries?

We met with Ali Al-Khairalla, the First Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iraq and Chief Architect of FileMaker Apps and Solutions, to learn firsthand about the solutions he and his team implemented to take the consular affairs of his country to the next level.

How do you get the decision-makers onboard? With a prototype.

Consulates abroad deal with a great number of powers of attorney.

When Ali first joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and before any technology came into the picture, he found out that there was no systematic approach to dealing with the large variety of these documents. The heavy manual paperwork, plus sending physical documents back and forth between ministries to obtain proof of validity, could sometimes take up to 4 months.

Ali made it his mission to implement processes that would skyrocket the operational efficiency of the Ministry and its embassies and consulates abroad. He knew that the technology needed to follow the processes in place, not the other way around. Looking at the broader scope of the task at hand – archiving power of attorney documents – he and his team saw the need for a full application that would put all embassies on one system, working in a web-based environment. Experienced in creating low-code applications using FileMaker to simplify his work in the past, he thought of it again.

With Claris FileMaker, a quick proof of concept to showcase his idea was ready in no time. The incredible flexibility it offered in terms of building custom workflows specific to their needs, its native support for Arabic, and the overall cost-effective approach got the attention of the management – the project was a go.

Asmaa Raed Al-Saadi, the Director of the Information Technology Department, remembers its beginnings back in 2017:

Despite the fact that the FileMaker platform had not been used previously in Iraq and was also uncommon in the Middle East, the support that we received from the Winsoft team made the process much easier. Our team did not face any difficulties when working with the Middle East version of FileMaker, as it supported Arabic and Right to Left text out of the box. The decision to use the Middle East version of FileMaker proved successful, as the team was able to accomplish the tasks required and develop using the platform without prior training, unlike any other programming languages.

Asmaa Raed Al-Saadi

Getting the user experience right: The pilot project

Two embassies – in London and Abu Dhabi – were chosen to roll out a pilot. To create user interface which is easy to use by all diplomats, even those located in remote countries with limited digital experience was a vital challenge.  The application was to be used in 89 embassies and consulates later on, there was no leeway for disfunction. 

We changed the UI around 25 times, but the fact that it was possible to do so on the fly, simplified the process a lot. With lots of customization, we were able to build the application exactly how we wanted.

Ali Al-Khairalla

Ali’s team leveraged FileMaker’s flexibility in terms of infrastructure. Having the choice to run it on a private network onsite or in the cloud helped secure the solution and ensure reliable connectivity with the Ministry in Bagdad.

Deployment at scale and technology adoption

Feature by feature, one embassy after another, the complete solution was deployed in 89 locations. Named ICASS (Iraqi Consulate Affairs Support System), it consisted of a 3-pillar approach:

  • A centralized citizen database for issuing documents,
  • A document archiving module, and
  • A query module for checking document validity.

Once all diplomats were trained, the ministry encouraged them to start issuing all documents through the system. The fact that the application was web-based, without the actual need to install anything on the computer, was definitely one of the success factors.

Ali explains: “We unified the whole process. And the fact that we created one database for all our consulates abroad has been a lifesaver. It was one of the first times that the program was built in-house by a government. It’s not like a CRM system. It’s not like any other different system. It is very customized and works specifically for consulate affairs work. And the Ministry owns the data.”

Currently, the system has a total of 650 users, with 50-100 logging in concurrently every day, and ensures 24/7 coverage. It can:

  • Issue 57 types of documents for citizens, including powers of attorney, proof of life certificates, visas, one-time passports, and more;
  • Archive and authenticate documents;
  • Perform instant validity checks;
  • Issue documents to citizens in any country, as long as they are registered in the central database.

The numbers are impressive – in the last two years, around 750,000 documents were issued via the system, which hosts more than 13 million records.

It used to take 20 to 25 minutes to issue a document. Now it only takes 3 to 5mn. And if a person is already registered in our system – only a minute. A document validity check that could take up to four months in the past, now happens instantly.


Revolutionizing document flow security to collaborate with other governmental organizations

Previewing citizen documents, checking their validity – that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what governmental organizations deal with on an everyday basis. The FileMaker solution deployed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made it possible for other ministries to connect to and complete their tasks in a fast and painless way, with a high level of security.

We’re the first Ministry right now that is fully scalable, and we’re fully open to bi-directional data with other ministries via an open API – the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Higher Education, you name it. Legalizing documents and checking their validity has become easy – you can check maybe 10, 20 documents and it takes five, six minutes.


To conclude, Ali shared his advice to any governmental organization considering digitalization:

For any Ministry or any government entity that is starting off, FileMaker is a great element to use as proof of concept or for developing an application, as we did. It’s working. It’s doing the job. There are no issues. And these things, for me as a government employee, just give me peace of mind.


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