Help for British nationals overseas – guidance

Reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad

How to minimise your risk, and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.


Terrorism is a global threat. Attacks can occur anywhere in the world, usually with little or no warning. Terrorist attacks abroad have targeted western nationals, including British travellers and expatriates.

There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria.

Terrorist attacks include:

  • suicide attacks
  • hijackings
  • bombings
  • kidnappings
  • shootings
  • attacks on commercial aircraft and ships
  • use of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials

Minimise your risk from terrorism

The UK’s National Counter Terrorism Security Office has issued advice to the public on the steps you can take to keep yourself safe in the event of a firearms or weapons attack. Although this guidance has been issued in the UK, it could help you in an attack that takes place abroad.

If you’re travelling abroad you should regularly check our travel advice for the country you’re visiting and subscribe to email alerts for updates. The FCO constantly reviews the threat to British nationals from international terrorism and as far as possible will reflect any credible threats in travel advice. As a general principle you should follow the advice of competent local authorities in the country you’re in.

You can also minimise your risk from terrorism by taking the following steps:

  • watch and read news about the country and region
  • be vigilant in public areas and places that attract foreigners and westerners – eg hotels, restaurants, bars and crowded places like markets, malls or sports events
  • look out for anything suspicious and if you see anything report it to the local police immediately – many terrorist attacks are foiled by the vigilance of ordinary people
  • be clear about any routes you use and have a plan of action to follow in the event of an incident
  • try to avoid routines that make you an easier target – vary the time and route of your regular journeys
  • keep your mobile phone charged and with you, with emergency numbers programmed in
  • consider the extent to which you might stand out from the crowd before deciding to visit out-of-town destinations
  • be discreet on social media about yourself and your plans
  • tell colleagues, neighbours or hotel staff about where you’re going and when you plan to return
  • identify places like police stations, hospitals, official buildings along your route where you could seek refuge in an emergency