Information: Support For British Citizens Abroad

Information from Andrew Stephenson,  Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development, regarding Support For British Citizens Abroad:

It is a reflection of our global outlook that there are over 70 million journeys made overseas from the UK each year, and an estimated six million British people who live, work or study around the world at any time.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office plays a vital role in helping British people to travel, work, study and do business safely around the world, in support of our world class economy, supporting our reputation as an active and responsible country, and upholding our values of democracy, tolerance and freedom.

Since 2016, our consular strategic vision ‘Helping British People Overseas: Consular Services 2016-2020’ has placed a greater emphasis than before on preventing consular cases from happening, by helping British people to help themselves and by supporting them to take responsibility for their safety and security while overseas.  We believe that a greater focus on consular prevention results in better outcomes and experience for British people in other countries. It also allows us to focus more of our resource on the most vulnerable consular customers. It can also help to strengthen institutions, values and human rights on the ground in countries where we work in partnership on consular prevention.

One of the ways we aim to prevent consular incidents is through targeted communications under our Travel Aware campaign (https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk). The FCO works with the travel industry to provide advice to British nationals on how to stay safe when travelling overseas by encouraging them to plan ahead, including by viewing and subscribing to Foreign Office Travel Advice; researching local laws and customs; and taking out comprehensive travel insurance. We publish online ‘Living In Guides’ which provide advice for UK nationals living abroad, including on residency, access to healthcare and other benefits and services. They can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/overseas-living-in-guides.

Our Embassies and High Commissions overseas are also engaged in work to make travelling and living overseas safer for British nationals. This has ranged from partnering with local authorities in South Africa to improve signage on beaches to reduce fatalities in rip tides, to engagement with the Pakistani government on work to counter forced marriage. In Thailand, we have collaborated with the Department for Transport to improve road safety, and partnered with the Department of Corrections to draw up Standard Operating Procedures to ensure Thai prisons meet the Mandela international standard. In Spain we have worked with the Border Force to tackle modern slavery, and we’ve used creative communications coupled with influencing local authorities and charities to reduce fatal falls from balconies.

Whilst the vast majority of journeys and experiences by British people overseas are trouble free, when things go badly wrong, our staff in London and in 205 consular posts around the world are there to help. Each year we help around 22,000 British people in the most difficult circumstances. These include arrest, death, hospitalisation, forced marriage, rape and sexual assault, missing persons and child welfare. The FCO’s professional and dedicated consular staff provide tailored support to vulnerable customers, using their local expertise to help British people navigate another country’s systems, access services or to make contact with their family. We have expert teams working on the most difficult case types, and we work with external partners who are able to provide additional specialist support. We also issue around 30,000 Emergency Travel Documents each year to British people whose passport is lost or stolen. And we are ready at all times to deliver a rapid and effective response to crises overseas, particularly where British people find themselves in danger.

I thought it would be helpful to share with you the enclosed publication “Support for British nationals abroad: A guide” which explains how your constituents can help themselves stay safe abroad, how the FCO can support British people in difficulty overseas, as well as explaining what the FCO cannot do. This publication is also available online at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/support-for-british-nationals-abroad-a-guide

How your Constituents can Contact Us

If in difficulty overseas, your constituents can get in touch with our consular staff 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by telephoning their nearest Embassy, High Commission or Consulate for the price of a local phone call. All phone numbers can be found through a quick search on our Gov.UK “Find an Embassy …” page. Anyone in the UK calling about a family member or friend overseas should call the main FCO switchboard any time of day or night on 020 7008 1500.   

Your constituents can also find advice and information at:

FCO Travel Advice https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice 

FCO Travel on Twitter https://twitter.com/FCOtravel

FCO Travel on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/fcotravel

FCO Travel Aware on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/fcotravel

FCO Travel Aware Instagram https://www.instagram.com/travelaware/

 

The FCO provides advice on specific issues such as travel and mental health, forced marriage and coping with death abroad at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/helping-british-people-overseas-travelling-and-living-abroad

 

Andrew Stephenson MP