There’s nothing worse than having an emergency situation happen while you’re out of the country. Here are some tips just in case you run into trouble. Be prepared.
The UK Government – Duties and Responsibilities
The government of the UK overseas the entire United Kingdom. And, while they may help in international affairs, they cannot help in all instances. It’s important to understand what the responsibilities and duties are when it comes to the government.
In general, the government is responsible for the safety of its citizens. This includes citizens who travel to foreign countries. But, it’s also the responsibility of the citizen to keep an eye on news reports of any problems in countries you are considering visiting.
The government can intervene in certain circumstances, however, and get you out of a country when it becomes unsafe.
Before you travel, you should get comprehensive travel insurance, and check local, municipal, state, provincial, or national laws of the place you will be travelling to. As foreign laws may be different from what you’re used to, knowing what the laws are helps keep you safe.
Check vaccination schedules, and make sure that you’re up on them. This is both for your safety and for the foreign country citizen’s safety. Some countries require that you get vaccinations specific for that country.
For example, if you’re planning on travelling to South Africa, you should get all of your routine vaccinations, Hepatitis A and B shots, Typhoid, Malaria, and Rabies.
If you’re travelling to sub-Saharan Africa or South America, you should get vaccinated against yellow fever.
Take traveller’s cheques with you as well as some prepaid cash cards or credit cards. These will provide the most safety and security during your trip.
Also, consider giving a trusted friend or family member power of attorney while you’re out of the country. This person would be able to look after your financial affairs and be authorised to wire you money from your bank account in case of emergency.
In some cases, companies like Slater and Gordon may be able to help on the legal side, setting up the proper documents.
What The Government Can Do
If you do get into trouble overseas, there are several things the government can do for you. First, the government can issue emergency travel documents, provide information about transferring money, and help you if you’ve been raped, sexually assaulted, physically assaulted, or are a victim of other crimes, or end up in a hospital because of an illness or injury.
The government can also contact family and friends, provide details of other organisations that can provide support when the government cannot, or make special arrangements in cases of terrorist, civil unrest, or natural disasters while you’re on holiday.
What The Government Cannot Do
The government can’t do everything, however. Specifically, it will not help you enter a country if you don’t have a visa or passport. It cannot issue you a new or replacement passport because these are issued by Her Majesty’s Passport Office.
It cannot ensure your safety in another country because it is outside the legal boundaries to do so.
The government won’t be able to give you legal advice or translate formal documents either, carry out searches for missing people in a foreign county, investigate crimes, get you better treatment in a prison or prevent the authorities from deporting you. It also cannot interfere with court proceedings.
Finally, it cannot pay any bills for you, or give you any public funds to pay bills and expenses, make travel arrangements, or get involved in private disputes.
Phillip Monroe has held a number of government roles related to foreign travel for UK citizens. He enjoys the opportunity to share his experiences and insights online. His tips and observations can be found on a number of relevant consumer-orientated websites.