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.
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.