Research at FCO

Providing feedback on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) services.

Feedback and research at FCO

The FCO promotes the United Kingdom’s interests overseas, supporting our citizens and businesses around the globe. We offer a wide range of services handling anything from a major crisis evacuation to the issue of emergency travel documents or verification of a document.

We aim to provide a high quality service and are keen to receive feedback which we use to assess and improve the way our services are delivered. We gather views about customers experiences of FCO services, some of these views may be positive, some may not be.

We work with a small number of partner research agencies to formally collect feedback about our services. If you have been a consular customer and have provided your contact details as part of that service, you may be approached by us (online as part of your application, via SMS text, email or in person) to invite you to take part in our feedback programme.

If you have already agreed to take part in our programme, or decided not to opt out of sharing your details, then you may also be approached directly by one of our research partners to provide feedback about your experience. Our partner research agency randomly selects customers. This means not everyone who agrees to share their contact details will be invited to interview.

If you would rather not be contacted for feedback purposes you can email, providing your name, email address and the reason you received consular assistance. We will then ensure you are not contacted, nor your details shared with anyone else.

You may decide not to take part at any stage of the process, even if you have agreed/been interviewed. Whether you decide to take part in our research or not, we will always protect your privacy and process your information in line with the Data Protection Act.

Alongside our formal independent research programme, we welcome other customer feedback about our services. If you wish to make a complaint, offer a compliment or provide any other feedback about consular services, please visit Complaints, compliments and feedback.

SMS text FAQs

Why did we send you an SMS text message?

We are contacting British Nationals or their families and friends who recently used a Foreign and Commonwealth Office service at one of our Consulates, Embassies or High Commissions overseas and have been supported by our consular staff, as part of a feedback programme to evaluate the services we offer to British people overseas. We are seeking feedback from people like you who have been supported by our consular staff. Our feedback programme seeks to gather views from a small number of British people about their experiences of Foreign and Commonwealth Office services. Some of those experiences may be positive and some may not be. We use this feedback to help us deliver the best possible support to those who need us, and to improve our service for others who contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to seek assistance.

You might be invited to take part by SMS, email or via a website link.

What is the survey about?

The survey gives you an opportunity to provide feedback on the consular services we provided and how they were delivered to you.

Can I do the interview online or over the telephone?

Our research agency usually conduct interviews over the telephone but we can also offer the possibility of doing it online if that is more convenient to you. In some cases this may also be face to face.

How long is the survey?

The survey could be 7 minutes, 20 minutes or between 45 minutes and an hour, depending on the type of research you’re invited to take part in. You will be told the likely interview length when you are invited to take part, and you can decide then whether or not you want to go ahead.

When will I be contacted to take part in the survey?

Once you agree to participate, our partner agency will randomly select customers to take part in our survey. A researcher from our partner agency will contact you over the next few weeks to arrange either a telephone or an online interview with you, or face to face if appropriate, at a date and time convenient to you.

What if I am not contacted but would like to provide feedback?

If you are not contacted by our partner agency to take part in our survey but wish to provide feedback, please visit Complaints, compliments and feedback.

How much will my SMS reply to you cost?

If you have been invited to participate by SMS, the cost of the SMS text is that agreed by your mobile provider to a UK mobile.

Who are IFF Research?

IFF Research are an independent market research company who have been commissioned to carry out this study by the FCO. We work with IFF Research to evaluate the services we offer. IFF Research is a bona fide market research agency who adhere to the stipulations of the Data Protection Act and to Market Research ethics and principles. This includes anonymising all feedback received, protecting personal data and destroying data securely after 12 months. Your data will be kept securely and confidentially on UK servers and will not be shared with anyone else.

What if I decide I don’t want to do this?

You are able to opt out of providing feedback at any stage. If you do not wish to have your details passed on to our partner agency for research purposes, please ignore this text. If you prefer never to be contacted by us in relation to providing feedback about your FCO experiences you can send email stating “Opt out assistance survey” in the subject line of the email. Please include your full name and email address within the main body of the email so my team can identify you correctly and make sure we do not contact you.

What happens to my personal data?

The independent Research agency we work with will anonymise your survey answers to the questionnaire by removing your name and other details that could identify you from the data. Taking part will not affect your relationship with us. This means that it will not be possible to tell who the information is from or about. We will not know who has taken part and completed the survey will not affect your relationship with us in the future.

What types of personal information do we handle?

We will only use appropriate personal data necessary to fulfil a particular purpose or purposes. Personal data could be information which is held on a computer, in a paper record i.e. a file, as images, but it can also include other types of electronically held information.

How is my personal data stored?

Any personal information collected during the survey will be stored separately and securely by our Research agency. A small team of staff there will have access to this information and it will only be used to help them analyse the findings. We will not know who has taken part.

Any personal data sent to our partner agency is sent securely via an encrypted system.

Who can I contact for further information?

If you need further information please email our Consular Customer Insight team at