News story

Foreign Office helps over 1,000 Brits make it home for Christmas

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) staff across the world saved Christmas for more than 1,000 people last year, and have already helped hundreds more this yuletide season.

Helping British nationals abroad

New figures released by the FCO show that in the fortnight before Christmas 2015, staff at its embassies around the world came to the aid of 1,242 Brits stuck overseas after losing their passports or letting them expire.

The teams stepped in to issue emergency travel documents, enabling people to fly home for Christmas. The good work has continued in 2016 - more than 714 emergency travel documents have been issued already this December.

The FCO has issued the statistics as it reminds travellers how important it is to look after their passports and belongings when they are abroad. Obtaining an emergency travel document costs time, money and disruption to your overseas trip.

Foreign Office Minister for consular policy, Tobias Ellwood said:

Our staff operate in far flung places across the globe to help Brits in all manner of difficulties and it’s extremely rewarding when they can play the role of Christmas angels to help so many people get back to their families in time for Christmas.

But it’s important that people take responsibility when travelling and keep their passport safe, otherwise Christmas can become a stressful and costly experience.

The FCO is currently running a campaign, Passport Hustle, which provides tips and advice on how British nationals can keep their passports safe overseas.

The figures have been published at the same time as the annual Helping British Nationals Abroad report. The report shows that the FCO’s consular service staff assisted more than 23,000 Brits in 2015/16, with a range of issues, from arrests to injuries and deaths overseas.

The report provides an insight into how the global network of British embassies, high commissions and consulates can help and give advice to British nationals overseas.

Further information can be found in the Helping British Nationals Abroad Report

Further information

  • Passport Hustle is part of the FCO’s ‘Travel Aware’ travel safety campaign, which aims to advise all British nationals travelling abroad, encourage responsible travel and reduce preventable consular cases. The campaign works with more than 400 travel industry partners to communicate its messages. For more information visit gov.uk/travelaware
  • FCO travel advice is updated regularly. You can sign-up to receive country specific travel advice email alerts to ensure that you have the latest information
  • You can also keep up-to-date with the latest FCO travel advice by signing up to the FCO’s Facebook and Twitter feeds

What can the FCO do for people who have problems when travelling abroad?

The FCO can: The FCO cannot:
Issue you with an emergency travel document Help you enter a country if you do not have a valid passport or necessary visas
Provide information about transferring money Give you legal advice or translate documents
Provide help if you have suffered rape or serious sexual or physical assault, are a victim of crime or are ill or in hospital Investigate crimes or get you out of prison
Give you a list of local lawyers, interpreters, doctors or funeral directors Get you better treatment in hospital or prison than is given to local people (but we will raise concerns if treatment falls below internationally recognised standards)
Contact you if you are detained abroad Pay any bills or give you money
Contact friends and family at home for you if you wish Make travel arrangements for you
Provide help in cases of forced marriage  
Assist people affected by parental child abduction  
Published 22 December 2016