Information for U.S. Citizens about a U.S. Government-Assisted Evacuation

As conditions in a country degrade, you may realize it is time to return to the United States. Do not wait for an evacuation. If you do not have the resources to do so, please see our page on Emergency Financial Assistance.  

Procedures for Evacuation:

In some emergencies, the U.S. government may evacuate U.S. citizens. They do this on transportation coordinated by the U.S. government, like charter or military flights.

U.S. law lets the State Department use emergency funds to evacuate private U.S. citizens and third-country nationals. This is when their lives are endangered by war, civil unrest, or natural disaster. The law requires this help be provided through a loan “on a reimbursable basis to the greatest extent practicable”. It limits the reimbursement to the cost of a reasonable commercial airfare. The Department enforces the law by billing U.S. citizen evacuees. They bill for the cost of a full-fare economy flight just before the events causing the evacuation. Or, they bill for the actual per-person cost of the evacuation, if that cost is lower. Costs may vary for evacuation to different destinations. It's safest to leave on the first evacuation transport available to you.

Generally, the U.S. government will provide a transportation option to a location away from the crisis event. This may be a nearby country or a different part of the same country. This safe location is rarely the United States. You are responsible for having visas, vaccinations, and/or other documentation. You are also responsible for your own accommodations and further transport. If you need emergency financial assistance, you can apply for a repatriation loan.

To take this transportation, U.S. citizens must sign an Evacuee Manifest and Promissory Note (Form DS-5528). In some cases, another country’s government may make available transportation for U.S. citizens at U.S. expense. Therefore, even if another country's government provides the transportation, U.S. citizens must still sign the note. They must sign before boarding. These signed notes tell the U.S. Government that the person being evacuated promises to repay the U.S. Government for their evacuation loan. They also tell the Department how to contact evacuees for billing. They give the evacuee's billing and repayment info.

Why doesn’t the U.S. government use the U.S. military for all evacuations? In very rare cases, the U.S. military may assist with evacuation. The Department of State and Department of Defense may coordinate to do this when all other options have been exhausted.

How to Repay an Evacuation Loan:

The Accounts Receivable Branch (ARB) of the U.S. Department of State takes payment for evacuation loan debts. ARB sends evacuees a bill for the evacuation, to the address provided on the DS-5528 form. You may pay your bill by debit or credit card through Visit and search REPAT to make your payment online. You can also pay by credit or debit card by mailing the form included with your bill. Or, you can pay by mailing a check or money order to the Department of State. Make the payment to Accounts Receivable Branch, P.O. Box 979005, St. Louis, MO 63197-9000. If you have questions for ARB, you can reach them at 1-800-521-2116 or 843-746-0592. They are open Monday to Friday from 7:30 AM to 4:00 PM ET. You can also email them at

Payment is due on the due date listed on the bill that you will receive from ARB. If you can't pay the full amount, you can ask ARB to send you an installment agreement. It will let you repay the debt in regular parts.

The Department follows federal debt collection rules. If full payment is not received within 30 days of the due date, the Department adds a $50 charge and interest starts.

If the account is 90 days past due, penalties are assessed at a rate of 6% per year on the unpaid balance. The Department of Treasury then collects the debt. Treasury may collect the debt via offset of federal payments like tax returns and social security. They may refer your case to a private collection agency or to credit bureaus. They may garnish your wages to collect the debt. They may also use other actions allowed by law.

Impact of a Loan on Your Passport:

  • If you are making regular payments on an outstanding loan, we can issue you a passport valid for one year if you are otherwise eligible.
  • Once you have repaid the loan in full, we can issue a full-validity passport (10 years for adults) if you are otherwise eligible.
  • If you have not made any payments on an outstanding loan, we may be unable to issue you a new passport. Please set up payment arrangements by contacting ARB.
Last Updated: February 29, 2024