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Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO)

The FCO is your friend when you travel; they can assist you when things go wrong and be a vital source of information during the travel planning stages and when in-country.

What the FCO can’t do is provide a get-out-of-jail card, fund your trip or circumnavigate local laws. You are always subject to the law of the country you are in and being British does not grant you any more privilege than would be afforded to a local person.

The FCO have a proactive prevention strategy, which is they try and provide such information as is required for people to avoid getting into ‘trouble’. When an incident happens they will assist British citizens, provide advice, guidance and ensure as far as reasonably possible they get representation.

It must be remembered though that they are not an alternative to travel insurance; the list of what they can’t do is as long as that of what they can do:


The FCO Can:

  • Issue replacement passports
  • Provide information about transferring funds
  • Provide appropriate help if you have suffered; rape, serious assault, other crime or you are ill or in hospital
  • Provide details of local lawyers, interpreters, doctors and funeral directors.
  • Contact you if they are told that you have been detained
  • Offer support and help in a range of other cases including; child abductions, death of relatives overseas, missing people and kidnapping
  • Contact friends and family for you, if you want them to.
  • Make special arrangements in cases of terrorism, civil disturbances or natural disasters.


The FCO Can Not:

  • Get involved in private disputes over property, employment, commercial matter or make business arrangements on your behalf
  • Get you out of prison, prevent the local authorities from deporting you after your prison sentence, interfere in criminal or civil court proceedings
  • Help you enter a country, for example, if you do not have a visa or your passport is not valid. They cannot interfere in another country’s immigration policy or procedures
  • Give you legal advice, investigate crimes or carry out searches for missing people
  • Get you better treatment in hospital than is given to local people
  • Get you better treatment in prison than local prisoners
  • Pay any bills or give you money from public funds
  • Make travel arrangements for you, find you work or accommodation
  • Make sure you will be safe in another country; safety and security are matters for the government concerned
  • Provide compensation if you are affected by a major catastrophe or terrorist attack.


For further information please visit the FCO website:



Safe Gap Year is a partner in the FCO’s ‘Know Before You Go’ campaign