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International Travel

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Emergencies

What Can You Do in a Crisis Abroad?

Think Ahead

Whether traveling or living outside of the United States, there are ways you can prepare yourself for a potential crisis.

Be Informed 

  • Learn about the country, including visa requirements, local laws, customs, and medical care in the countries where you will be. Check for any Travel Alerts or Travel Warnings for your destination.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive important safety and security messages and make it easier for us to locate and assist you in an emergency.
  • Keep the contact details for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate with you. We are available for emergencies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, overseas and in Washington, D.C. (888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444).
  • See our Traveler’s Checklist for more information.  Overseas: consular officers, agents, and staff work with crime victims and help them with the local police and medical systems. 

Be Prepared 

  • Have a two week supply of food and water for each member of your household – don’t forget your pets! A crisis can make it impossible to leave your home or make the local water undrinkable.
  • Your emergency kit should include your passports, birth abroad certificates for children born overseas, cash in the local currency, a card with local translations of basic terms, and an electrical current converter. If you have pets, be sure to have their vaccination records.
  • Households with infants and young children should plan for food and supplies, such as diapers and wipes, formula or baby food, and a change of clothing.
  • If you take medication, make sure to have at least five days’ worth at any given time – if you can, we encourage enough for two weeks beyond your scheduled trip and have a copy of your prescriptions handy.
  • If you use assistive or medical devices that require a power supply, be sure to find backup power or other ways that will sustain your device or equipment during a power outage.
  • Make sure you have health insurance whenever you are traveling abroad. For more information, see Insurance Providers for Overseas Coverage.
  • Make sure your passport is ready for use. Most countries require that it be valid for at least six months after the end of your trip and that it have two or more blank pages. 

Be Connected 

  • Keep a list of your emergency contacts handy and create a communication plan for reaching family and friends in the event of a crisis. 
  • Phone lines are usually affected during a crisis. Think about other ways to communicate. For example, update your social media status often and send messages as regularly as possible to let friends and family know how you are doing.
  • Many of our U.S. embassies and consulates, along with the Bureau of Consular Affairs, use social media to provide information – connect with us! Twitter Facebook
  • For more information, see Ways to Contact Loved Ones in a Crisis Abroad

Be Safe 

  • Have an exit strategy! Know how you’ll get out of harm’s way without needing to rely on assistance – a crisis may prevent or delay emergency responders’ ability to get to you and there will be many people needing help. 
  • Be sure you know more than one way to get towards safety – the crisis event may make some roads unpassable or unsafe.
  • Follow instructions from local authorities about security and evacuation. Doing so could save your life.
  • Monitor local radio, television, and other sources for updates. Situations can change quickly, limiting the time you have to get out.
  • If you are staying in a hotel, talk to the staff to be sure you know the hotel’s emergency plan for a variety of crisis events – fire, flood, electrical outage, storms, etc.
  • Keep in touch with your tour operators, hotel staff, airline, cruise company, and local officials for evacuation instructions.
  • Contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if you need emergency help. Please keep in mind that this will not alert emergency responders – if you need emergency medical attention or police assistance, contact the local authorities directly if you can.


Learn about your destination