The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR) was completed in 1963 as a multilateral treaty to codify consular practices that developed through customary international law and numerous bilateral treaties.
The VCCR enumerates basic legal rights and duties of signatory States including
the establishment and conduct of consular relations, by mutual consent, and
the privileges and immunities of consular officers and offices from the laws of the “receiving State” (the country where the foreign consular office has been established).
Article 36 of the VCCR requires that foreign nationals who are arrested or detained be given notice "without delay" of their right to have their embassy or consulate notified of that arrest. The notice can be as simple as a fax, giving the person's name, the place of arrest, and, if possible, something about the reason for the arrest or detention. The police must fax that notice to the embassy or consulate, which can then check up on the person.
The United States is a party to this treaty, but it has not had a good historical track record of compliance. Mexico sued the United States before the International Court of Justice, and Mexico won. (The case is called Avena, and you can find the text of it on the website for the International Court of Justice.)
Text of the Convention 
“Implications of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations upon the Regulation of Consular Identification Cards” by Elsea and others 
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Honorary consular officers, with the exception of those who carry on for personal profit any professional or commercial activity in the receiving State, shall be exempt from all obligations under the laws and regulations of the receiving State in regard to the registration of aliens and residence permits.
An honorary consular officer shall be exempt from all dues and taxes on the remuneration and emoluments which he receives from the sending State in respect of the exercise of consular functions.
Members of the consular post not being nationals of the receiving State, and members of their families forming part of their households, shall not, solely by the operation of the law of the receiving State, acquire the nationality of that State.
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