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How do I Contact My Consulate if I Get Into Trouble Abroad?

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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 April 2014
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Although it is best to do everything in your power to stay out of legal trouble while you are traveling abroad, it is important to know what to do if you do find yourself arrested or detained by foreign officers. Almost every foreign country has a an American Consulate or a United States Embassy. These offices serve the purpose of assisting, or simply advising American travelers while they are abroad.

The Consulate has a branch titled the Citizens Emergency Center that assists Americans who find themselves in emergency situations while they are abroad. If, for example, you have the most unpleasant circumstances of becoming injured, seriously ill, or the victim of a crime while you are abroad, this office can assist you.

It is important to know how to get in touch with your Consulate while you are traveling abroad. Before leaving for your trip, do a little bit of research to find out where your Consulate is located in each country that you plan to visit. Make sure to note their contact information and keep this with you at all times. Simply printing out the information and keeping it in your wallet or purse is a very good idea. This government website has links to every United States Embassy or Consulate in the world: http://usembassy.state.gov. From this site, you can access the websites of every consulate and locate their contact information.

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Although you can gain assistance through these offices, there are some things that the Consulate cannot help you with. Below, please find two rosters. The first includes things that a Consulate can help you with. The second is a list of things that the Consulate will not be able to assist you with.


An American Embassy or Consulate can help if you:

  • Have a legal dispute with the local government.
  • Are detained by the local government.
  • Are prosecuted by the local government and require assistance in protecting your human rights.
  • You become ill or injured and need assistance finding proper medical attention and/or returning home.

An Embassy or Consulate cannot help if you:

  • Are disputing with your airline carrier.
  • Have financial trouble while you are abroad.
  • Want to gain a work permit, visa, or any type of license in the country you are visiting.

    Hopefully this information will be irrelevant on your next trip abroad. But guarding yourself with information is one of the best ways to stay safe and protect yourself and your interests during your travels.

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Discuss this Article

aLFredo
Post 4

Knowing as much emergency contact information as possible, especially out of the country where things are done very differently, is always very important.

I have not been to another country, but my friends from other countries say that some people of those other countries prey on people who do not know enough information about their rights and the laws and the way of life there.

I know you can never be totally prepared, but it is good to be as prepared as you possibly can be.

It is vitally important to look up information of the United States Embassy and/or the consulate for any legal questions or concerns you may have.

You should also keep a copy of addresses and phone numbers of the consulate, because you may not have people to help you in other countries, or they may not understand you.

It is a good idea to research information about the city and country you are going to.

If you can ask some people who have been there or who have lived there, that you can trust, usually they will give you helpful and important incite of what you need to be wary of and so forth.

drtroubles
Post 3

When my wife and I were traveling in India we ran into some issues after getting into an automobile accident. While it was very minor, the people wanted to come after us for a great deal of money and even though we had insurance it was all very stressful.

We went to the India consulate and they put us in touch with very good legal services so we could have someone who was knowledgeable about the local laws. Needless to say, I am very pleased that the consulate was there to point us in the right direction so our vacation wasn't totally ruined by one accident.

popcorn
Post 2

There are numerous reasons you may want to get in touch with your consulate abroad. Losing your passport, or having it stolen, is one of the biggest problems that tourists face.

I had my passport lost at a hotel and ended up having to file a police report with the Vietnamese officials while I was in Ho Chi Minh city. It was a pretty smooth process overall, though I did have to take the report and all my ID with me down to the Vietnam consulate so that I could get a new passport. I was lucky and had a photocopy of my passport tucked away, so it made the process of getting a new one much faster.

wander
Post 1

Before you step foot in another country it is a good idea to know your consulate's emergency number and where they are. You would be surprised at how many issues you can run into abroad, and while you may not actually need to call your consulate, it is a good threat.

The Thailand consulate for example can be a huge help if you are visiting and get into trouble with the local authorities. While you say, hey that would never happen to me, you have to be aware that not all of the authorities are doing what they should.

There have been numerous scams where they threaten to arrest you for littering so you'll pay a fine (bribe). Once you refuse and demand to be taken to a station, and insist that your consulate is contacted, they will generally leave you be.

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