There are many things the US embassies and consulates can do to help you before, during, and after your travels. As an American traveling or even relocating abroad, it’s very important to know where your nearest US embassy or consulate is located. You’ll find them in countries all over the world that have diplomatic relations with our country. For expats and travelers alike, read on to learn what the US Embassy can and can’t do for you.
Things the US embassy can help with:
1 Notify you of travel alerts
When you’re traveling or making a move to expat life in another country, you should contact the embassy closest to where you’ll be located for safety reasons. Because the world is a very different place these days, it’s helpful to notify the US embassy of your plans so that if there is a travel warning issued, they can alert you to any dangers and can be of assistance to you in case of an emergency.
2 Handle passport issues
If you lose your passport or it gets stolen, the embassy will need to verify that you’re really you. But once they do, they’ll get you back on the road again with a new passport. They can assist with your travel plans too.
3 Contact family and find missing travelers
Should you encounter a problem abroad, the US embassy can contact family and even your place of work to let them know you’re ok. Conversely, if your teenage child went missing on a trip abroad, the embassy can help look for them.
4 Serve as a liaison of languages
If you need medical assistance abroad but don’t speak the language, the US embassy can help you find English-speaking medical professionals to care for you.
5 Help you with money problems
Victim of theft? The embassy can help you transfer or receive funds from home when you need it most.
6 Assist with proceedings for a death abroad
It’s not a pleasant topic to think of, but the US embassy will be there for you should there be a death overseas. They can help you notify family and return your loved one back to the United States.
7 Offer emergency assistance
Whether you’re the victim of a crime or you’ve landed yourself in hot water, the embassy can help you with the assistance you need. If you get arrested, a representative from the embassy will visit you in jail and help you understand your rights under the laws for the country you’re in.
8 Register overseas births
One of the most joyous reasons to visit the embassy while living abroad is when you have children. You can register your children born abroad as US citizens, even if your spouse is not a US citizen.
9 File forms and get them notarized
If you need to update your voter registration and vote from abroad, as well as any other governmental form, you can get it done at the US embassy. Plus, if you need something notarized by a US notary, you can do it there too.
While the US embassy can be very helpful to you during your time abroad, you should be aware that they can’t fix everything for you. Knowing what they can do to help is important, but equally so is knowing what the US embassy is unable to do for you.
Things the US embassy can’t help you with:
1 Get you out of trouble
Conduct yourself appropriately during your travels. The US embassy cannot step in to make everything better again should you break the law in another country. They can help you find legal assistance in English and understand the laws but if you’re in trouble, they can’t just snap their fingers and fix it.
2 Serve as a bank
While they can help you access and transfer your own funds from back home, the US embassy cannot just give you money or cash checks for you, including travelers checks. They cannot make payments on your behalf either.
3 Take you on a tour
It might seem like a fascinating idea to tour a US embassy or consulate. Unfortunately, they do not have the time to arrange for a tour of their offices. If you need to use the services offered at the embassy, you’ll need to make an appointment in most cases or you may wind up waiting a very long time. Some locations will not see you if you do not make an appointment first, so it pays to know the rules at the embassy closest to where you’ll be first to avoid any surprises.
Final advice from the US embassy
The US embassies and consulates all urge you to keep the information for the embassy or consulate nearest to your destinations handy in case of emergency. In this way, you can contact them for assistance without delay. Another tip they recommend is to keep photocopies of your travel documents and protect them well. In this way, if your passport is lost or stolen, it makes it much easier to get assistance.
The US embassy urges you to take precautions prior to traveling so that in the event of an emergency, it will be easier to handle. Most travelers will not need help from the embassy, however, if you’re living abroad, registering with your closest embassy is essential and can save a great deal of time and hassle should an emergency arise. Once upon a time, you had to travel to the embassy to check in, which can be difficult in places like China where the embassies and consulates are spread out. However these days, all you need is to fill out a form online to register for your trip or extended stay.
Above all, be cautious both with your behavior and your belongings and you should have a wonderful experience abroad!