Help From A British Consul

By: Keith Mcgregor

For UK nationals travelling abroad, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office www.fco.gov.uk/travel will do everything they properly can to help British people in difficulty abroad. If you get into difficulty or trouble, you can contact British Consular Staff around the world who may be able to help. But what can they offer and, more importantly, what can they not do if you get into difficulty abroad?

They can:
  • Issue emergency passports
  • Contact relatives and friends and ask them to help you with money or tickets
  • Tell you how to transfer money
  • In an emergency, cash you a sterling cheque worth up to ?100 if supported by a valid banker’s card
  • As a last resort, in exceptional circumstances, and as long as you meet certain strict rules, give you a loan to get back to the UK, but only if there is no one else who can help you
  • Help you get in touch with local lawyers, interpreters and doctors
  • Arrange for next of kin to be told of an accident or a death and advise on procedures
  • Visit you if arrested or put in prison, and arrange for messages to be sent to relatives or friends
  • Put you in touch with organisations who help trace missing persons
  • Speak to local authorities on your behalf
  • Give you a list of local lawyers
But they cannot:
  • Intervene in court cases
  • Get you out of prison
  • Give legal advice or start court proceedings for you
  • Get you better treatment in hospital or prison than is given to locals
  • Investigate a crime
  • Pay your hotel, legal, medical or any other bills
  • Pay your travel costs, except in special circumstances
  • Do work normally done by travel agents, airlines, banks or motoring organisations
  • Get you somewhere to live, a job, or work permit
  • Demand you be treated as British if you are a dual national in the country of your second nationality

The UK consular operation covers most countries but not all and in these countries, you may be able to get help from the consulate of another EU member state.

Also, Commonwealth countries such as Australia and Canada may provide certain consular services to British nationals in countries where the UK is unrepresented why not take a look at www.travelandinsure.com who have included an easy to read Foreign and Commonwealth advice on what support you can expect from Embassies and Consulates worldwide. They also offer a wide range of travel insurance policies to suit all ages, numbers and destinations.

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