This paper addresses the impact of democratization on State bureaucracies accountable for foreign policy, especially Ministries of Foreign Affairs (MFA), in Portugal and Spain in the 1970s and 1980s. Current approaches to this topic underline the somewhat surprising continuity in the internal organization of the MFA in both countries, despite their change of regime. This paper argues that without neglecting the continuities, some changes are often underestimated due the use of a nationalistic methodology and of a narrow approach to the institutions in foreign policy. In order to develop a more complex view, this paper proposes three different strategies. Firstly it will use a broad concept of democratization which reflects the political debates of the time on this issue. Secondly it will adopt some tools of social and cultural history to the analysis of the diplomatic profession and of the foreign policy machinery. Thirdly it will integrate the adaptations in Portugal and Spain in a larger narrative about the dissemination of models of democratization of the structures, principles and practices of foreign policy in post WWII Western Europe.