Assisting Australians overseas
This charter outlines the consular services and assistance provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. There are circumstances in which our ability to provide consular support may be limited. These are outlined in this document.
- We are committed to providing efficient and cost effective support to Australians overseas.
Who we can assist:
- all Australian citizens
- Canadian citizens in locations speciﬁed in the Australia-Canada Consular Sharing Agreement Schedule.
We provide limited consular services to Australian permanent residents located overseas. This could be in the form of assisting evacuation when also helping Australian citizens.
If you’re a dual national, we only assist you in your country of other nationality in exceptional circumstances.
- deal with your enquiry courteously, promptly and efﬁciently
- explain clearly how we can help and when you should approach others for advice and help
- tell you if there is a charge for a service we provide
- protect any personal information you give us in accordance with Australia’s privacy laws
- take any feedback on our performance seriously and deal with it promptly.
We ask that you:
- take personal responsibility for your travel choices, your safety, ﬁnances and behaviour overseas, including obeying the laws of the country you’re visiting
- take out appropriate travel and medical insurance that covers you for any unexpected costs
- follow our travel advice at smartraveller.gov.au and local advice
- protect your passport and report it promptly if it is lost or stolen
- treat consular staff with respect and be honest in providing us with all relevant information when seeking our assistance
- give us feedback to help us to improve our services.
Basic precautions and travel tips
- Read our travel advice at
smartraveller.gov.au, register your trip and subscribe to travel advice updates.
- Familiarise yourself with the countries you’re visiting, including local laws and customs.
- Organise your ﬁnances to cover your planned travel.
- Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance. Ensure it will cover all the activities you are planning and any pre-existing conditions and medical treatments. Emergency treatment and medical evacuation can be very expensive if you don’t have insurance.
- Seek medical advice for health concerns and keep your vaccinations up to date. If you’re carrying pharmaceutical products or medicines, make sure they are allowed in the country you’re visiting.
- Check your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia and won’t expire when you’re overseas.
- Leave a copy of your passport, insurance policy details and your itinerary with your family or friends.
What help we may provide
Each case is unique and our assistance will depend on the circumstances and availability of consular resources.
We may be able to:
- issue replacement passports and travel documents for a fee
- provide details of local doctors and hospitals in a medical emergency
- provide appropriate help, including details of local lawyers and interpreters, if you’re the victim of a serious assault, other crime, or arrested
- visit or contact you to check on your welfare if you’re arrested. We will do what we can to see you’re treated fairly under the laws of the country in which you have been arrested.
- provide advice and support in a wide range of other cases including the death of relatives overseas, missing persons and kidnappings
- contact friends or family on your behalf, and with your permission. In some circumstances we may contact your friends or family without your consent.
- make special arrangements in cases of international terrorism, civil disturbances and natural disasters (fees may apply)
- provide some notarial services, including witnessing and authenticating documents and administering oaths and afﬁrmations (fees apply)
- let you vote in Australian federal and some state elections while overseas (limited locations).
What we can't do
Some tasks are outside the consular role or not provided for policy reasons. We can’t:
- guarantee your safety and security in another country or make your travel arrangements
- give legal advice, interpret or translate documents. We may provide details of local lawyers and translators.
- intervene in another country’s court proceedings or legal matters including employment disputes, commercial disputes, criminal cases, family law matters or child custody disputes
- search for missing people, which is the responsibility of local authorities
- investigate crimes or deaths overseas, which is the responsibility of local authorities
- get you out of prison or prevent you from being deported
- get you better treatment in prison than local prisoners, although we may raise welfare concerns with local authorities with your consent
- post bail or pay your ﬁnes or legal expenses
- enforce an Australian or any other custody agreement overseas or compel a country to decide a custody case
- pay medical bills or for psychiatric services or medications
- pay your pension or social security beneﬁts
- arrange visas, licences, work or residency permits for other countries
- intervene in immigration, customs or quarantine matters in other countries
- store lost property, or
- receive or send postal items on your behalf.
Our assistance may be limited in some circumstances
You don’t have a legal right to consular assistance and shouldn’t assume assistance will be provided. We may limit assistance in the following circumstances:
- your actions are illegal
- you’ve deliberately or repeatedly acted recklessly or negligently
- you put yourself or others at risk
- you’ve demonstrated a repeated pattern of behaviour requiring consular assistance.
Some international crises and emergencies involving Australians overseas will require an exceptional response, such as:
- those in which large numbers of Australians may have been killed or injured or where there are dangers to Australians, for example terrorist attacks, major accidents, pandemics and natural disasters
- political unrest which leads us to advise you to leave the country and which might require the assisted departure or evacuation of Australians if there are no commercial options and
- events which cause major disruption and hardship to large numbers of Australians.
In such crises and incidents we will provide support to Australian citizens and permanent residents of Australia. The nature of our assistance will be guided by many considerations but we may:
- deploy expert teams to support them
- liaise with the families of any Australians killed or injured
- work with local authorities to support affected Australians
- support Australians trying to leave the area and put them in contact with their families and
- provide travel advice and crisis updates.
In return, we ask Australians affected by such crises or emergencies to:
- read our travel advice at smartraveller.gov.au and follow us on social media
- subscribe to our travel advice updates and
- make contact with the local Australian embassy or consulate, or if there isn’t one, the UK, Canadian or US embassy.
- Emergency consular assistance is available 24 hours a day by calling our Consular Emergency Centre (CEC) in Canberra on 1300 555 135 or from anywhere in the world on +61 2 6261 3305 or by SMS on +61 421 269 080.
- If you’re overseas and it is after working hours, you can call the Australian embassy, high commission or consulate in the country you’re visiting and follow the phone prompts to be connected
- You can access addresses and telephone numbers of Australian embassies, high commissions or consulates online at dfat.gov.au or in local telephone directories, hotels, tourist ofﬁces or
- The CEC may also assist concerned family members in Australia and can be contacted on 1300 555 135.
In some exceptional cases consular staff may be involved for a long period. The follow up in local investigations or legal processes can take a long time. We’ll do our best to assist families with information received from local investigative and law enforcement authorities. While we don’t provide counselling or psychiatric support, we can tell you where to ﬁnd this type of help.
We welcome your comments on our services, to help us to identify areas that need improvement or where changes would make sense. Sharing your experiences may also help other Australians avoid difﬁculties overseas and appreciate what level of assistance can be provided. You can comment on our services by:
If you aren't satisfied with our response, you can contact the
Commonwealth Ombudsman's Office in Australia.
Personal information may be used by us to provide consular assistance. In accordance with Australian Privacy Principle 5, information about how we collect, use, disclose and store personal information related to consular cases is contained in our Consular Privacy Collection Statement. Copies of the Statement are available at dfat.gov.au/dept/consular/privacy.html or by requesting a copy from the department.
The media takes a close interest in incidents involving Australians overseas, ranging from crises to individual cases. Consular clients should be aware there may be some limited circumstances when we’ll conﬁrm to the media that we are providing you with consular assistance or correct and/or clarify information about the nature of that assistance.
Quick reference guide
If you or a family member is seriously sick and in need of medical care overseas:
- see a local doctors or hospital or seek help via your hotel or tour manager
- call the Consular Emergency Centre (CEC) in Canberra on 1300 555 135 or +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas; or
- call the nearest Australian embassy or consulate and follow the telephone prompts.
If you or a family member has been sexually assaulted or the victim of a serious crime overseas:
- call the Consular Emergency Centre (CEC) in Canberra on 1300 555 135 or +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas. The CEC will make contact with the nearest Australian embassy or consulate to provide direct assistance.
If you or a family member has been robbed or need money overseas:
- in the ﬁrst instance you should contact family and friends and look to use a commercial money transfer service or a bank to transfer funds. If it is outside normal working hours, call the Consular Emergency Centre (CEC) in Canberra on 1300 555 135 or + 61 2 6261 3305 from overseas.
If you or a family member is arrested overseas:
- call the Consular Emergency Centre (CEC) in Canberra on 1300 555 135 or +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas. There are limits to what consular staff can do. They can’t get you out of prison/detention or provide legal advice. They can provide you with a range of information including contact details for local lawyers. We will do what we can to see you are treated in accordance with local laws and process. We’ll raise any welfare concerns with prison authorities.
If someone is missing overseas:
- call their phone, email them and try to connect via social media. Call family and friends and check with their last address, banks, travel agents, airlines/tour companies or employers. If this is not successful, and there are reasons for concern, lodge a missing persons report with your local police station. Then call the Consular Emergency Centre (CEC) in Canberra on 1300 555 135 or +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas or call your local police to report a missing person.