Gendarmeries of the World Directory



Gendarmerie Corps of Vatican City State

Insigne-vatican.pngYear of creation:


Organization of attachment:

Direction des Services de Sécurité et Protection Civile



General manager:

Inspecteur général Domenico Giani


Cité du Vatican




By a motu proprio of July 14th, 1816, pope Pie VII establishes the papal Gendarmerie under the naming of "Carabineers". In 1851, pope Pie IX gives the name of "Gendarmerie". The gendarmes take an active part in the fights connected to the Papal States conquest. After the storming of Rome in 1870, a small group of the body member continues to serve in the papal residence and the gardens. In 1929, the gendarmes’ sphere of action is widened in order to face the obligations of the Corps in the recently created Vatican City and in the buildings and other zones on which the Holy See has extraterritorial rights. A few days away before the hundredth anniversary of the storming of Rome by the Italian troops, pope Paul VI suppressed the Vatican military units, the noble guard and the Palatine guard of honour, with the notable exception of the papal Swiss Guard. The law LXVII of December 15th, 1970, dissolves the papal Gendarmerie by replacing it by the Surveillance Central Head office (Ufficio centrale di vigilanza). This Corps is renamed Vatican City State Surveillance Corps by the law CLXVIII of March 25th, 1991, before becoming again the Vatican City State Gendarmerie Corps (Corpo della gendarmeria dello Stato della Città del Vaticano) by the Law CCCLXXIV of January 2nd, 2002. This latter is integrated into the new civilian protection and security services Direction of the Vatican City State by the Law CCCLXXXIV of July 16th, 2002. In June 2008, the gendarmes of Vatican adopt a new uniform that is inspired by some former uniforms of the papal Gendarmerie. But for certain services of honour, they keep the former papal Gendarmerie official reception uniform, close to that of the First Empire imperial guard Grenadiers. On October 7th, 2008, the Vatican City State becomes member of Interpol. The same year are created, within the Gendarmerie, the Rapid Response Team (RST) and the Mine clearance unit.


The Vatican Gendarmerie Corps depends on the Civilian Protection and Security Services Direction set up in 2002.


Central Organization

The Gendarmerie Commander is named "prefect". He is appointed by the pope for 5 years and receives the Vatican citizenship for a period of his functions. He is member of the papal family and lives in the Vatican City. The prefect is assisted by a General Director (appointed by the pope for 5 years, citizen and Vatican resident) and two assistant directors. Since the Year 2000 Jubilee, the Vatican Gendarmerie has a Control and Command Operational Centre grouping both alarm systems and video surveillance.

Territorial organization

A barracks in the Vatican City.

Specialized Training

A brass band recreated in 2007. It consists at present of about 100 musicians, all volunteers, graduated from the Music Academy.

The Rapid Response Team (RRT) (Gruppo Intervento Rapido) created in 2008. It is a unit specialized in antiterrorism.

The mine clearance unit (Unità Antisabotaggio) created in 2008.


The law CCCLXXXIV of July 16th, 2002 defines the missions of the papal Gendarmerie:

Its first mission is the protection of the pope, as well as in Vatican or during his travels in Italy and abroad. This task is performed in association with the papal Swiss Guard;

It is in charge of the security and the law and order in the Vatican City (Criminal Investigation Department, maintenance of law and order) and for the benefit of buildings enjoying the extraterritoriality. Besides the various control points in entrances and in the Vatican gardens, the gendarmes are also on duty in the various apostolic palace courtyards.

In the absence of the pope - according to the Latran agreements article 3 provisions - the Saint-Peter square security is ensured by the Italian State Police, which has a law and order inspectorship near Vatican and 150 agents, whose general staff is located 12, via del Mascherino, a few steps away from the Saint-Peter Square colonnade;

It ensures law enforcement;

It assumes missions of the border police.



The theoretical force panel - approved on July 10th, 2009 by the governorate president Cardinal - plans:

99 officers: 3 department heads, 8 main police chiefs, 16 police commissioners, 32 inspectors, 40 vices-inspectors;

94 gendarmes.


Two chaplains, appointed by the pope, are assigned to the Vatican Gendarmerie. The Gendarmerie receives the assistance of the Saint-Peter and Paul Association volunteers (heiress of the Palatine Guard of honour traditions) in order to ensure the Saint-Peter basilica daily surveillance and also for the liturgical celebrations security chaired by the pope.

Training institutions

The gendarmes are recruited among the men, singles, measuring more than 1,78 m, of more than 21 years old and less than 25 years, graduated of the secondary education, knowing at least a foreign language in addition to their mother tongue and satisfying the psychic and physical medical examination. During their two-year trial period, the gendarmes live in the gendarmerie barrack within the Vatican City. Their mission is performed by 48 hours service rotation. It is the Gendarmerie prefect with the chaplain who are co-responsible of the candidates preselection process. The trainee-gendarmes are appointed on a permanent basis after a two-year training course, at the end of a capacity special examination that includes written, oral, technical and sports tests. They can then take the oath. The gendarmes’ training is made in association with the Italian police and the other police forces as FBI, which opened a training course for the mine clearance unit benefit.

Main equipment

Armament: semiautomatic pistols Glock (of various versions), submachine guns Beretta M12S and Heckler & Koch MP5. The RRT is equipped with Bushmaster Carbon 15 (9 mm) and of pump-action shotguns Fabarm ultra short 14 (calibre 12). The gendarmes are also equipped with pepper gas spray/atomizers.

Vehicles: two motorcycles Ducati Multistrada 1200, two Harley-Davidson motorcycles of the Road King Police model, one Kangoo Maxi Z.E electrical, two electric Smart, one Fiat Bravo equipped with the mineralogical plates automatic reading system, two escort Passat Volkswagen, one Mercedes-Benz Class G for the RRT, one Fiat Ducato for the mobile PC, one Iveco Daily for the mine clearance unit.