From the FCO: Stay safe overseas – Know Before You Go
Whether you are travelling abroad to visit friends or family, to take part in exciting sports or just to get a bit of rest and relaxation, you’re sure to want your trip to go smoothly. Although most overseas trips do go without a hitch, British travellers still can, and do, run into trouble whilst they are away.
The good news is that many of the most common problems can be prevented or made less stressful by taking a few simple precautions. So it makes sense to spend a little time getting prepared before you travel – you could save yourself a lot of worry later on.
With this in mind, we are working with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to help British nationals stay safe abroad. The FCO website offers straightforward travel advice, top tips and up to date country information to help you plan your holiday.
Travel tips from the FCO
• Make sure you have valid travel insurance, even if you’re only planning a short trip. And make sure it will cover you for wherever you’re going and whatever activities you plan to take part in while you’re there.
• Visit your GP at least 6 weeks before you travel. They will check that your vaccinations are up to date and give you helpful health advice for your trip.
• Read up on your destination, including local laws and customs. A good travel guide should give you this information, and it’s also worth talking to your travel agent or tour operator about possible risks.
• Make photocopies of your passport, visas, insurance details and any other important travel documents. Take one copy with you (packed separately from your real documents) and leave another copy with a relative or friend at home.
For lots more travel advice, take a look at the FCO website.
Country by country advice
You can also find travel advice for specific countries on the FCO website. This includes areas of the country that may be risky to visit, the likelihood of terrorist activities and any health issues that you should watch out for.
The information is updated regularly, so by selecting the countries you plan to travel to on the drop-down menu, you can make sure you’re properly informed.
Don’t go to…
Sometimes there is such a high level of risk in a certain country, or part of a country, that the FCO recommends that you simply don’t travel there. You can find a list of these countries and areas on the FCO website.
Introducing your local British Consulate
You’ve probably know that British Consulate offices exist in foreign countries, to assist British nationals while they’re in the country. But do you know what they can actually do to help if you get into difficulty – and what they can’t do?
For example, your local British Consulate can:
• issue a replacement passport if yours is lost or stolen
• help if you are a victim of crime
• make special arrangements if there’s a terrorism attack or a natural disaster
But they can’t:
• get you out of prison
• pay fines for you or put up bail
• help you enter a country if you don’t have the correct visa
You can get all the facts about the British Consulate services on the FCO’s website.
FCO’s 12-point travel checklist
Ready to travel? Make sure you’ve done everything you can to make your travels safe with this handy 12-point checklist from the FCO’s online range.
1. Check the FCO website (www.fco.gov.uk/travel) or call the travel advice line (0845 850 2829) to find out about your destination and your safety abroad.
2. Make sure you have full travel insurance which is up to date, valid for the entire trip and covers everyone who is travelling.
3. If you are travelling within the European Economic Area or Switzerland, get a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
4. If you are going to live abroad, check the Department for Work and Pensions’ website (www.dwp.gov.uk) to find out whether the UK has a social security agreement with your destination.
5. Make sure that all your vaccinations are up to date and find out about any other suggested medical advice by visiting your healthcare provider.
6. Fill in the contact details at the back of your passport for your next-of-kin or someone who can be contacted in an emergency.
7. Make sure you are aware of the immigration and customs controls of the country you are travelling to, including any necessary visas.
8. Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back.
9. Take enough money for your trip and some back-up funds, such as traveller’s cheques, cash (sterling or US dollars) or credit cards.
10. Buy a good travel guide that includes basic information on local laws and customs. Talk to your travel agent or tour operator about possible risks.
11. If you are planning to drive, make sure your UK driving licence is current and valid.
12. If you are travelling in uncertain local conditions or remote areas, register with the local British Embassy.