20+ Differences Between MI5 And MI6

The term “intelligence agency” refers to a government department tasked with gathering military and political data to support national security. The term is derived from the word “intelligence agencies.”

When it comes to the United Kingdom, both MI5 and MI6 are considered to be intelligence organizations, yet, they are distinct from one another in that MI5 is known as the British security agency while MI6 is known as the British foreign intelligence service. 

The primary distinction between MI5 and MI6 is that the latter combat threats from outside the UK, whilst MI5 combats dangers from within the UK; alternatively, one might say that MI5 is the domestic intelligence service.

On the other side, MI6 is responsible for gathering intelligence from other nations. As a result, the mission of MI5 is to catch their spies, whereas the mission of MI6 is to catch our spies.

Comparison Between MI5 And MI6

Another nameAlternately referred to as the Security Service.Other names for this organization include the Secret Intelligence Service.
FunctionAccording to the description, the primary areas of concentration include domestic counterintelligence operations, counterterrorism, and espionage.Focuses on risks that come from other countries or the outside world.
Works UnderSubject to the scrutiny of the Home Secretary.Responses to the Foreign Secretary’s Questions.
HeadquartersThe Thames House in London serves as the organization’s headquarters.Vauxhall Cross in London serves as the organization’s headquarters.
Originated FromIn 1909, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MI5) was established to combat sabotage and espionage.In 1919, the British government established MI6 in order to counter the activities of German intelligence.

Major Differences Between MI5 and MI6

What exactly is MI5?

The security service’s MI5 (Military Intelligence, Section 5) focuses on dangers from within the military. As part of the Joint Intelligence Committee, it is responsible for overseeing and directing the agency’s intelligence activities.

The goal of MI5 is to safeguard the United Kingdom as a whole from national security threats. MI5 protects the United Kingdom from terrorism, espionage, cyberattacks, and proliferation by those who use violence to spread their message (develop weapons of mass destruction). 

Secretariats, internal security organizations, information services branches, and legal advisory branches assist the Director General (DG), who serves as the organization’s chief executive. Captain Vernon Kell formed it in October of that year.

As Major General at the time, he was instrumental in the outbreak of World War I by seizing much of imperial Germany’s spy network in occupied France.

MI5 Key Differences

  • MI5 contributes to the protection of the nation.
  • When it comes to being held accountable, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MI5) reports to the Home Secretary, who is now Priti Patel of the Home Department.
  • The Ministry of the Interior (MI5) is responsible for protecting the country’s citizens.
  • The British intelligence organization MI5 is comparable to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which is a well-known government agency in the United States.

What exactly is MI6?

Foreign-policy concerns are the primary focus of MI6, which is also known as the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS).

For the sake of national security, foreign policy, military affairs, and economics, the organization is tasked with gathering intelligence from outside the UK. MI6’s primary goals are to combat terrorism, disrupt hostile state action, and enhance the UK’s cyber capabilities. 

While operating in Europe, Asia, and Latin America, it was the world’s most effective intelligence service throughout the time from the 1930s to the 1940s. The Government Communication Bureau is a fictitious name used by MI6 on occasion.

To keep the United Kingdom secure from foreign attacks, MI6 agents work in secret all around the world. MI6 collaborates with GCHQ, MI5, law enforcement, the HM Armed Forces, and other foreign organizations as well.

MI6 Key Differences

  • MI6 operates in other countries to assist in making the United Kingdom a more secure and affluent place.
  • The Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, is ultimately responsible for MI6, who reports to him. The actions of MI6 primarily consist of a number of successful covert political operations.
  • Keeping tabs on the outside world is the job of the Secret Intelligence Service or MI6.
  • The United Kingdom’s MI6 is analogous to the CIA in the United States (Central Intelligence Agency).

Contrast Between MI5 and MI6


  • MI5- The Security Service of the United Kingdom is known as MI5, which stands for Military Intelligence, Section 5. This organization is a component of the intelligence apparatus of the country.

    The primary responsibility of this organization is to carry out counterintelligence and security operations within the United States. Together with Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Defence Intelligence, and the Secret Intelligence Service, MI5 is a part of the United Kingdom’s intelligence community.

    MI5 is responsible for protecting and preserving British parliamentary democracy as well as the country’s economic interests. 
  • MI6- MI6, often known as the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), is the agency in charge of gathering foreign intelligence for the United Kingdom. It would be an abbreviation for Military Intelligence Section 6, if you were wondering.

    The person in charge of it, known as the SIS chief, reports to the Foreign Secretary. After a period of secrecy spanning eighty-five years, the Ministry of Information and Security (MI6) was finally recognized by the British government in 1994.

    Along with GCHQ, Defence Intelligence, and MI5, it is a component of the intelligence apparatus that operates in the United Kingdom.


  • MI5- The primary responsibility of MI5 is to keep track of prospective dangers and to defend the United Kingdom from these dangers by foiling plots of espionage and sabotage.
  • MI6- Foreign intelligence services operating in Europe and the United Kingdom are the focus of MI6’s primary mission.

    This includes the use of agents, spies, and other covert operations against these agencies, as well as the interception of radio transmissions and communication systems.

    Research is also being done on possible military targets in Europe in the event of a future war between Germany and other countries hostile to the United Kingdom.

Services used

  • MI5- Monitoring potential risks to national security and political opponents of the government, communist sympathizers, and active members of extremist organizations like far-right or neo-Nazi groups are only some of the duties of MI5’s enormous surveillance network in Britain.

    Additionally, these networks are entrusted with identifying potential threats posed by former British intelligence agents who worked for foreign intelligence organizations in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe during World War II.
  • MI6- To counter foreign intelligence organizations operating in Britain and across Europe, especially during the Cold War, and using covert operations such as agents, spies, and other operatives, the MI6 employs a network of monitoring comparable to the MI5.

    As part of its vigilance against potential Germans or other countries unfriendly to the United Kingdom, it also collects information on potential risks emanating from their operations and conducts studies on potential military targets within Europe.


  • MI5- Through the HM Treasury’s Security Service account, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MI5) receives funding from HM Treasury and HM Home Office.
  • MI6- In contrast, the financing for the MI6 comes from both the HM Treasury and the HM Home Office, but it goes through the Foreign Office account at the HM Treasury. However, it is essential to be aware that the funding for MI6 does not come from the HM Treasury.


  • MI5- The Ministry of the Interior (MI5) is in charge of domestic security. The Home Office is where you’ll find the MI5 headquarters.
  • MI6- MI6 is in charge of gathering intelligence from other countries. Both organizations collaborate closely to defend the United Kingdom from dangers from within the country and other parts of the world. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is home to the intelligence agency known as MI6.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much does British Intelligence earn?

The starting salary at GCHQ, MI5, and MI6 ranges between $25,000 and $35,000, not including perks. This is true for all three agencies.

There is the potential to advance to higher grades, with earnings reaching approximately £40,000 after five to ten years of service, depending on the position.

Q2. How is the recruitment of MI6 done?

The first step in the recruitment process for MI6 is typically filling out a brief application on the organization’s website to determine whether or not you match the primary qualifying requirements.

After this, candidates will participate in various activities, such as online forms, online exams, interviews, and assessment centers, depending on the role they are applying for.

Is having a degree a compulsory requirement for applying for MI6?

In spite of the fact that MI6 does not publicly promote any graduation schemes or development programs, in order to be considered for the post of an intelligence officer, you will need to possess a degree.

As part of your role, you will be responsible for collecting, delivering, and utilizing intelligence in order to contribute to the safety of the nation.

What is the age limit to apply to British Intelligence?

You must be 17 years old to submit an application. In the event that you are hired, you will not be given a start date that is younger than your 18th birthday.

What is MI1?

MI1, also known as British Military Intelligence, Section 1, was a division of the Directorate of Military Intelligence, which was a branch of the War Office in the United Kingdom.

During the First World War, it was established. It was responsible for breaking the code since it featured the letters “C&C.”

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