Emergency Assistance: Get Help At a U.S. Embassy or Consulate

BY Travel Writer

U.S. embassies and consulates are located in countries around the world which have diplomatic relations with the United States. Those who work in the American embassy or consulate are official representatives of the U.S. and its interest. They act as liaisons between the U.S. government and the host country. Most US embassies and consulates are located in the country’s capital city.  Working with the Department of State, it’s their responsibility to convey U.S. policy to foreign governments and international organizations, as well as react to local unsafe conditions or hostilities when they occur. Here is the breakdown of what the US embassies and consulates can do and cannot do for its citizens:

What U.S. Embassy and Consulate Can Do For You

  • Replacing a lost or stolen passport or renewing a passport
  • Arrest, abduction, or imprisonment-  If arrested consuls can assist in a law-related travel emergency by providing a list of attorneys, contacting your family, and ensuring that jail conditions and personal health are in acceptable condition
  • If you become ill overseas, they can assist you in obtaining medical attention and information on local English-speaking doctors.
  • Assist with marriages, birth, and adoptions
  • Obtain vital records (birth certificates, Social Security cards)
  • Emergency medical evacuation or dispositions of remains if an American citizen dies abroad
  • Notarizing Forms
  • Filing US taxes abroad

What U.S. Embassy and Consulate Can’t Do For You

  • Assist with U.S. residency or immigration issues, including Green Cards.
  • Provide information regarding U.S. visas or immigration benefits
  • Locate lost property
  • Cash Checks
  • Pay personal debts or lend money
  • Authorize and pay medical expenses
  • Get you out of jail, or have your charges reduced
  • Give legal advice, pay legal fees, or serve as attorney
  • Prepare tax returns
  • Collect or forward mail packages
  • Locate or provide information on U.S. citizens
  • Renew or replace driver’s licenses
  • Serve as interpreters or translators

It’s highly recommended that all travelers register to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP is a free service that allows U.S. Citizens traveling or living abroad to enroll with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Once enrolled you will receive the latest safety and security information for your destination. In case of a disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency the embassy or consulate will contact you directly, as well as help family members back in the U.S. get in touch with you as soon as possible. Stay Informed, stay connected, and stay safe enrolling into the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.