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Consular Notification and Access

Consular Notification and Access

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Consular Notification and Access

What Is Consular Notification & Access?

In the United States foreign governments have embassies (a foreign government’s headquarters) in Washington, DC and often have consulates (branch offices) in other cities.  Both the embassy and consulates provide assistance to that country’s citizens in the United States. 

When foreign nationals are arrested or detained, they must be advised of their right to have the closest consulate or the embassy notified.  In some cases, the closest consulate or the embassy must be notified, regardless of the foreign nationals wishes.  This is called consular notification.  

Foreign government officials are entitled to communicate with and visit their nationals in U.S. jails and prisons to check on their well-being.  They may, for example, help contact family, ensure medical care and proper nutrition, or provide reading materials. This is called consular access.

Consular notification and access are requirements because they also apply to U.S. citizens abroad.  Consular notification and access are mutual obligations based in treaties and agreements between the U.S. government and foreign governments.

Prompt courteous notification to the foreign national of the possibility of consular assistance, and prompt courteous notification to the foreign national’s nearest consulate or the embassy so that they can provide whatever consular services they deem appropriate helps us model how we want U.S. citizens treated in a similar situation overseas.  By providing appropriate consular notification and consular access to foreign governments, we help ensure that U.S. citizens have the same protections if arrested or detained abroad.

Steps to Follow When a Foreign National Is Arrested or Detained in the U.S.

Refer to the following for detailed information on the consular notification and access process:

1. Determine the foreign national’s country of nationality. In the absence of other information, assume this is the country on whose passport or other travel document the foreign national is traveling.

2. If the foreign national’s country is NOT on the list of mandatory notification countries and jurisdictions:

• Use Statement 1 on the Consular Notification Statements (immediately below these instructions) in the relevant language to inform the national, without delay, that he or she may have his or her consular officers notified and may communicate with them.

• If the foreign national requests that his or her consular officers be notified, notify the nearest embassy or consulate of the foreign national’s country without delay. We maintain contact information for foreign embassies and consulates in the U.S. Use the Suggested Fax Sheet for Notifying Consular Officers of Arrests or Detentions.

• Forward any communication from the foreign national to his or her consular officers without delay.

3. If the foreign national’s country is on the list of mandatory notification countries and jurisdictions:

• Notify that country’s nearest embassy or consulate, without delay, of the arrest or detention. We maintain contact information for foreign embassies and consulates in the U.S. Use the Suggested Fax Sheet for Notifying Consular Officers of Arrests or Detentions.

• Use Statement 2 on the Consular Notification Statements (immediately below these instructions) in the relevant language to tell the national, without delay, that you are making this notification and that he or she may communicate with the consulate.

• Forward any communication from the foreign national to his or her consular officers without delay.

4. Keep a written record of:

• What information you provided to the foreign national and when.

• The foreign national’s requests, if any.

• Whether you notified consular officers and, if so, the date and time and the means used to notify them (e.g., fax, email or phone.) If you used fax or email to notify the consular officers, you should keep the fax confirmation sheet or sent email in your records.

• Any other relevant actions taken.

These steps should be followed for all foreign nationals regardless of their immigration status.

 
 
 
  • Consular Notification Statements

    Download a PDF of consular notification statements in various languages

Steps to Follow When a Foreign National Is Seriously Injured/Sick, Dies or Is Placed in Guardianship (Minors) or Trusteeship (Adults)

Notify the foreign embassy or consulate. You can find contact information for the foreign embassies and consulates on our web page.

If a foreign national is medically detained for a contagious disease, it is necessary to notify the foreign embassy or consulate.  See our information on notification for medical detentions/quarantine.

You may use the fax sheets below or a letter/email containing the same information.

Suggested Fax Sheet for Notifying Consular Officers of Death or Serious Injuries

Suggested Fax Sheet for Notifying Consular Officers of the Possible Appointment of a Guardian or Trustee for a Foreign National

 

Importance of Consular Notification

 

Consular Notification Training Video