The Role of the British Foreign Office Abroad

Very few of us know about the British Foreign Office's role abroad, apart from the occasional mention on the news advising against travel to countries in turmoil.

For the most part, there is quite a lot of confusion about their actual role and what that role is should holiday makers and tourist run into trouble overseas.

Here's our guide to the sort of assistance that the British Foreign Office can and can’t offer you in the unlikely event that you have a problem when abroad.

The British Foreign Office CAN:

  • Contact your family and friends to inform them if something has happened to you
  • Give you guidance on where to find legal advice
  • Provide a list of interpreters and English-speaking lawyers
  • Provide general information regarding legal procedures and the local police
  • Help you find a local doctor
  • Replace travel documents (for a fee) if you’ve lost your passport or had it stolen.

The British Foreign Office CANNOT:

  • Provide actual legal advice or financial help
  • Pay towards medical expenses
  • Have any influence on a trial
  • Investigate crimes on your behalf or collect evidence
  • Get you out of custody or prison
  • Assist with travel costs if you are required to stand trial, either as a witness or victim.

Make sure you check the Foreign Office's website for their contact details in the country you are travellling to before you go on holiday, so that you have their details to hand should you require their assistance while on holiday.