How to Get Help from the US Embassy During an Emergency

If you are ever in an emergency, your country’s embassy or consulate is your greatest resource. They are there to help you. You should find out where your country’s nearest embassy or consulate is whenever you are in a new location abroad. For Americans, if anything should happen, then you might find yourself in desperate need of the US Embassy during an emergency. This article will detail what the US Embassy can and can’t do in a crisis.

 

*To find your nearest US Embassy during an emergency, click here.

*To see the US Bureau of Consular Affairs’ webpage, click here.

*To see the US Bureau of Consular Affairs webpage on a natural disaster, click here.

*To see the US Bureau of Consular Affairs webpage on a manmade disaster, click here.

*To see the US Bureau of Consular Affairs traveler’s checklist, click here.

 

– Information On Specific Emergencies That Are Not Covered In This Article –

*For information on Arrest or Detention of a U.S. Citizen Abroad, click here

*For information on International Financial Scams, click here

*For information on International Maritime Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea, click here

*For information on Forced Marriage, click here

*For information on Terrorism, click here

 

How to Get Notifications from the US Embassy during an Emergency:

One of the best things that you can do if you are in a foreign country during a crisis is to follow the notifications from the US government. They will post all pertinent information on as many platforms available, whether that is social media, television, radio, and on their website. If all systems of communication are down, then you should monitor television and radio stations. Also, the US uses a system of US citizen “wardens” to pass on information to American communities abroad.

However, the best thing you can do is to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to ensure that you have all up-to-date information. To do so, click here.

 

*To learn more about the STEP Application, click here.

*To follow the US State Dept. –  Consular Affairs on Facebook, click here.

*To follow the US State Dept.  – Consular Affairs on Twitter, click here.

*To visit the US State Dept.  – Consular Affairs’ website, click here.

*To Contact the State Dept. during a crisis – click here.

 

*To Phone the US State Dept. during a crisis – US Number: 1-888-407-4747

*To Phone the US State Dept. during a crisis – International Number: +1-202-501-4444

 

To Contact a US Embassy on Behalf of a Loved One:

If you need to locate a loved one overseas or provide information to the State Department on behalf of a loved one, click here. This only applies to US citizens. (If not a US citizen, then you should contact the embassy of your loved one’s citizenship.) The information you provide will be added to a database that will help the US Embassy locate your loved ones during an emergency. However, this information does not go directly to first responders. To contact the first responders during an emergency, call these phone numbers:

 

*To Phone the US State Dept. during a crisis – US Number: 1-888-407-4747

*To Phone the US State Dept. during a crisis – International Number: +1-202-501-4444

 

The US Embassy will not make arrangements for family members who are not US citizens. In some cases, a foreign spouse who has a US “green card” can get special dispensations such as evacuation, however, the US Embassy policy during an emergency is that foreign citizens should contact their country’s embassy for assistance in evacuation during an emergency.

 

Ways to Locate a Loved One Abroad During an Emergency:

It is always good to have a plan with your family in case of a crisis. Setting up a strategy with friends of friends or a location that your family can contact in case of an emergency is always a good idea.

 

*To see the US Bureau of Consular Affairs webpage on preparing in case of an emergency, click here.

 

However, here are some steps that you can take as recommended by the US Embassy during an emergency:

  • Reach out to them on social media
  • Send them a text message
  • Call a hotel, school, or organization where they could be
  • Reach out to a travel companion they might be with
  • Communicate with an operator of a tour that they are on
  • Call the local police
  • Contact international Aid Organizations specializing in locating people in a crisis

 

*For more information on these recommended steps, click here.

 

If You Are Searching for A U.S. Citizen Missing Abroad:

Many times, friends and family will be missing abroad due to lack of cell phone coverage or internet. This often means that they cannot get a hold of you for a few days, but you will eventually hear from them. However, the US Embassy will help you locate a missing friend or family. They will reach out to local authorities in an attempt to track them down. Any information you can offer will help them locate your loved one.

 

*To Phone the US State Dept. during a crisis – US Number: 1-888-407-4747

*To Phone the US State Dept. during a crisis – International Number: +1-202-501-4444

*To contact your nearest US embassy, click here.

 

What the US Embassy Can and Can’t Do During an Emergency:

The nature of a crisis abroad will determine the steps the US government takes to care for its citizens overseas. In some instances, it may be as simple as offering warning notifications of where to avoid, and how to seek help if you are in those areas.

– If You Must Be Evacuated by a US Embassy During an Emergency –

In other instances, they may actively help citizens flee a crisis. If commercial flights and communication are intact, then that is their recommended option. However, if infrastructure should break down, during an emergency the US Embassy can help you evacuate. Working with local authorities and neighboring countries, the US government will help you arrange transport to flee a crisis abroad. The US military is deployed as a last resort due to logistical and cost management.

– How to Get to A US Embassy Evacuation Site During an Emergency –

During a crisis, it is your responsibility to get to your location of departure or the US Embassy itself. The US Embassy will not transport you to your destination because the US Embassy during an emergency is generally locked down, though they can suggest secure means of getting there.

– How to Pay for Evacuation by a US Embassy During an Emergency –
If you are evacuated, you will be billed the cost—though you do not have to pay immediately. You will be charged the equivalent of a coach flight at the moment infrastructure broke down, then you will have to sign a form promising to pay the government back. Also, you do not get to choose your destination. Instead, you will be evacuated to the nearest safe location, and from there, your travel arrangements are your own to make. If you are financially destitute you can apply for emergency financial services. Click here to apply.

 

*If you have been evacuated and you need more information, click here.

 

– Evacuating Pets by a US Embassy During an Emergency –

The US Embassy During an Emergency will not help you evacuate your pets. If they are small enough to fit in a crate under the seat in front of you, while standing up and able to turn around, then they can often travel as carry-on luggage.

 

*To learn more about the restrictions of air travel click here with your pet, and to learn about how to bring your pet back over the US border click here to read our articles on flying pets abroad.

 

– Passport and Visas for US Embassy During an Emergency –

You should be prepared to prove that you are an American citizen. If your passport is expired, then extra measures may be taken to prove your citizenship. Visas processing is generally suspended during a crisis.

 

*If you have lost your passport or visa, then click here to read our article on a lost or stolen passport.

 

The US Embassy Can Help US Citizen Victims of Crime:

If you have been the victim of a crime, the US Embassy can help you during your personal emergency, depending on what country you are in. In this event, the US Embassy can help you in the following ways:

  • Provide a local lawyer who speaks English
  • Explain options for financial assistance, including transportation to US home soil
  • With written permission, the US Embassy can contact your employer, friends, or family
  • Replace a lost or stolen passport
  • Connect you with organizations dealing with the country’s laws and foreigners
  • Help you with accessing appropriate medical care
  • Act as a liaison between you and local authorities when dealing with a crime
  • Address any other emergency needs resulting from your violent crime
  • Connect you with appropriate resources for victims of a crime

 

Click here to review the information for each particular country. Officers are available 24-hours a day, every day, to help you in the event of a crime. To call them, see numbers below:

 

*To Phone the US State Dept. during a crisis – US Number: 1-888-407-4747

*To Phone the US State Dept. during a crisis – International Number: +1-202-501-4444

 

*The US Embassy will not represent you in court or provide legal advice in any way. They can only connect you with people and organizations that can. They will not pay legal or medical expenses for you or act as an official interpreter or translator.

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