American citizens can rely on assistance from the US State Department if they become a victim of crime while traveling overseas, but the State Department can’t help with everything. Read on to find out what help a US citizen can expect, and how to access this assistance.

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The State Department assists in two ways. One by working with the traveler overseas through consular offices and agents, and two by liaising with family through State Department offices in the United States. Offices in the US provide US resources for the victim or the victim’s family where possible. Officials in the foreign country can help with matters relating to the country and its legal system.

Consular officials can help a victim replace their stolen passport so they can travel onwards or home. The department can also contact the victim’s family and friends, or their employers, to pass on news or request help. Further assistance comes in the form of obtaining medical care, and explaining the local criminal justice system. If the case is going to court then the US Consulate will obtain information for you about the case and connect you with local and international resources that assist victims of crime. In addition, the Consulate can provide a list of English-speaking lawyers. They cannot investigate incidents or crimes, nor provide any legal advice. Consulate officials cannot act as official translators or interpreters, and cannot pay your legal fees. You will need to liaise with your lawyer yourself, as the Consulate doesn’t act as a go-between.

If you experience crime when you are abroad, contact your nearest US Embassy or US Consulate. In most cases officers are available 24 hours a day via telephone, and during business hours in person. You should also contact the local police and obtain a police report regarding the incident.