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FCO Offers Emergency Help for British Travellers

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office offers emergency help to British travellers while they are abroad, however, contrary to some peoples' belief, it is not a Directory Enquiries service.

“Where do I buy English bacon in Europe?”

Yes, believe it or not, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) received this very call. In fact, it has received hundreds of crazy question calls over the years.  

Fancy a giggle? Then read on to discover more...

On a serious note, the FCO supports overseas travellers in the event of any emergencies they may face when holidaying abroad. This service fills many travellers with confidence, that should the worst happen, help is at hand. So why do so many Brits use the service as if it were Directory Enquiries line?

In a bid to remind Brits that it is there for emergency help only, the FCO has released details of some of its funniest requests.

  • “How do I recruit a butler in Lebanon?”
  • “How can we avoid nudists in Southern Spain?”
  • Someone even called to ask about how he could work illegally in Singapore!

It might seem funny, but these types of calls to the FCO take up valuable life and death time.

Speaking about the, albeit funny, but crazy requests dealt with by the FCO, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister, James Duddridge, said, “Our consular staff are a helpful bunch and do an amazing job helping out Brits in trouble around the world – but it is important that people remember they are there to help with genuine emergencies and not as an alternative to directory enquiries.”

So please, think twice before contacting the FCO. Only call their consular services in the event of a real emergency, such as:

  • Arranging visits to Britons in hospital
  • Arranging visits to Britons in prison
  • Advice on transferring money
  • Help and advice for those in a crisis situation
  • Help arranging lost or stolen travel documents

Mr Duddridge added, “Every minute they spend handling a call requesting advice on butlers or nudists is time taken away from dealing with life and death cases, so I urge the public to think before picking up the phone.”

FACT: Last year over 500,000 calls were made to the FCO by Britons needing emergency help.

FACT: 4,770 Britons were arrested on foreign shores last year – the FCO were there to help.

FACT: 3,250 Britons were hospitalised last year – the FCO were there to help.

FACT: The families of the 3,670 people who died overseas last year could take comfort and help from the FCO.

FACT – the FCO helped reissue over 38,000 travel documents last year.