The head of state is a high-ranking constitutional position[note 1] in a sovereign state. The head of state is vested with powers to act as the chief public representative of that state. Heads of state in most countries are natural persons holding an office. In a monarchy the reigning monarch is the head of state, though the title may not be king or queen. In a republic the head of state is usually titled president, but may have other titles such as chairman. However, in four United Nations member states the head of state position is held by a body of persons: the Federal Council of Switzerland, the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Co-Princes of Andorra and the Captains Regent of San Marino.[note 2] The role and functions of the office of head of state may range from purely ceremonial or symbolic to the real executive power in a state.
The office is usually distinct from a head of government. For example, the distinction is made in article 7 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, article 1 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents and the United Nations protocol list. For instance, in parliamentary systems like the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Federal Republic of Germany; the Monarch and the President are recognized as their respective heads of state, while the Prime Minister and the Chancellor are recognized as the heads of government. However, in republics with a presidential system, as in the United States and the Federative Republic of Brazil, their presidents are recognized as being both heads of state and heads of government.