July 24, 2013
DISCLAIMER : The information below is provided for general information only and may not be totally applicable in a particular case. Questions involving interpretation of specific U.S. or foreign laws should be addressed to appropriate legal counsel.
Note: This is an official U.S. Government source. Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What services does the Department of State provide to assist destitute U.S. citizens abroad who need temporary financial assistance?
A. The Office of Overseas Citizens Services in the U.S. Department of State, (888) 407-4747 (or from overseas +1 202-501-4444) can assist U.S. citizens who are temporarily destitute abroad because of an unanticipated emergency. If you find yourself in such a situation, here are some options:
Contacting Home: U.S. citizens in need of emergency financial assistance while abroad should first attempt to contact their family, friends, banking institution, or employer in the United States, or in their place of residence abroad, for financial help. The American Citizen Services unit in the Consular Section of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate can assist in this effort. U.S. embassy and consulate contact information is available in our Country Specific Information pages and our Smart Traveler App . See Sending Money to a U.S. Citizen Overseas .
Wiring Money Directly: You, or your family, friends, or associates, may wire money directly to a U.S. citizen abroad by contacting Western Union , MoneyGram , or other similar commercial money transfer services with offices overseas. There are money transfer cost comparison tools online to help you identify your best option. The person receiving the money will need to present proof of identity such as a passport. See our information about replacement of lost or stolen U.S. passports abroad . Be wary of International Financial Scams !
Your Bank: A destitute U.S. citizen abroad who has depleted his/her bank account or reached an overdraft limit can arrange for friends or family to deposit additional funds in his/her account. This option allows the traveler to use an ATM card to access the replenished account quickly
Your Credit Card Company: Your credit card company may be able to increase your credit limit temporarily. Report a lost/stolen credit card immediately to your credit card company. Your credit card company may be able to send you a new card using an express delivery service. Your credit card company may also be able to verify your credit card account directly to your hotel, airline, doctor, or hospital to enable you to check out of your hotel, obtain replacement airline tickets, or receive other emergency services. A person receiving funds and/or a new credit card may need to present proof of identity such as a passport. See our information about replacement of lost or stolen U.S. passports abroad . Inquire about the benefits your credit card company provides you overseas before you travel abroad.
Bank to Bank Transfers: It may be possible to transfer money directly from a bank in the United States to a bank in the foreign country where the U.S. citizen can receive the funds. Some foreign banks require that the U.S. citizen establish a foreign bank account to use this option. Bank to bank transfers can take several days to accomplish.
Send Money Through the U.S. Department of State: When commercial options are not available, or their use is not feasible due to the circumstance of the emergency, family or friends may send funds to the Department of State for delivery to a destitute U.S. citizen abroad through the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. See Sending Money Overseas to a U.S. Citizen. The Department of State assesses a $30.00 fee to establish an account and transfer funds. For additional information, contact the U.S. Department of State, Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management, at (888) 407-4747.
Q. What other assistance is available to a destitute U.S. citizen if family or friends cannot provide financial help ?
A. Destitute U.S. citizens in need of help overseas should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate or the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, at (888) 407-4747 (or from overseas +1 202-501-4444), for information about other assistance options and eligibility requirements.
Q. What assistance is available for U.S. citizens in connection with medical emergencies abroad?
A . Consult the nearest Embassy’s website for a list of hospitals and doctors in your location overseas. Your hotel concierge may also be a good resource. The availability and quality of medical services available can vary greatly depending on your location. Read the Medical Facilities and Health Information section in our Country Specific Information pages or our Smart Traveler App . Review our Medical Insurance page for information about medical coverage abroad, air ambulances, and medical evacuation companies. Limited emergency medical funding assistance may be available on a reimbursable (loan) basis for temporarily destitute U.S. citizens and their qualified dependents.
Q. If you have a U.S. citizen relative or friend abroad in need of emergency financial assistance, whom do you contact at the Department of State for help?
A. Contact the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, at (888) 407-4747 or, if dialing from overseas,
(202) 647-5225. You can also contact the Consular Section (American Citizens Services Unit) at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate . See also the U.S. embassy and consulate contact information in our Country Specific Information pages or our Smart Traveler App .