Emergency Abroad – Numbers You Must Know
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Emergencies abroad can come in a variety of forms and sizes ranging from political upheaval to having a bank card stolen. Seeking the emergency services or medical help whilst you are abroad can often be a frightening and stressful experience. Many countries lack English speaking operators so a little preparation beforehand can ensure that you stay safe and know how to prepare if an emergency situation arises.
In 1937 London became the first city to ever host an emergency phone number in which users entered three numbers to be put through to an operator and receive immediate help. The number ‘999’ was introduced in England due to its difficulty of accidental dialling on many old phones.
Countries across the world operate different emergency numbers so it is important to know which number to dial and where you can receive help and protection.
Below is a guide on the help and support that can be provided in emergency situations overseas.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)
You can call the Consular Assistance team on:
020 7008 1500 (from UK)
+44 20 7008 1500 (from overseas)
If you have been involved in an emergency abroad, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provide information to next of kin and assistance in providing vital information such as contact with solicitors, translators and how to transfer monetary funds. Although the FCO provide information they cannot cover costs as this is the responsibility of your travel insurance company.
There are British foreign embassies situated across the world and their duty is to represent the interests of their country and to help aid citizens of their country.
Lost or stolen passports – You should report a stolen passport to the police as soon as you can. The FCO can issue you with a temporary passport once you are recognised as a British national. Costs will incur however these can be claimed from your travel insurance. Your stolen passport will be terminated to avoid fraudulent use.
Medical emergencies – Information will be provided regarding police and legal procedures and you should contact the 24-hour helpline provided by your insurer. If you are hospitalised the FCO will contact your family and can liaise with the insurance company on your behalf.
Deaths abroad from natural causes – All deaths must be registered in the country where the person died. If the person who died was travelling with a tour company then the company will contact the next of kin. The next of kin will always be informed first.
Crisis overseas – During a crisis or civil unrest, leave the country at the earliest opportunity. The FCO can provide information on travel updates and liaise with travel operators.
If you wish to find out more about the FCO the Guide For British Nationals Abroad highlights further information.
You can find a list here of British embassies across the world.
Travel insurance and European Health Insurance Card
Remember to keep a printed travel insurance certificate somewhere secure and where it can be easily accessed alongside a list of key contacts including the 24-hour insurance helpline.
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) replaced the E111 in 2006. The card allows you to receive state healthcare at a reduced rate and it will cover your treatment up until you end your stay. It should be noted that the EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance as it will only provide reduced or free medical care abroad. It would not provide repatriation costs for example. Travellers should therefore ensure that they purchase separate travel insurance and obtain an EHIC before they travel.
The EHIC covers all European countries and further information can be found here.
Emergency telephone numbers across the world
0800 840 4929