What does the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) do?

If something goes wrong on holiday, the British Embassy and consular staff who work on behalf of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) will provide you with advice and assistance when you're abroad.

All of the embassy and consular staff worldwide do a great job providing assistance and advice to thousands of us each year.

ABTA tip
Make sure you understand what the FCDO can and can't do for you.

Our research has found that many young people think that the FCDO will pay for their medical bills if they haven’t taken out travel insurance, the FCDO does not do this. 

What the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) will do

  • Give general information about local police and legal procedures
  • Point you in the right direction of where to get legal advice
  • If you need medical treatment, help you to contact a local doctor
  • Contact your relatives and friends to let them know if something has happened to you
  • Give you a list of local English-speaking lawyers and interpreters. They would not normally attend a court case involving a British national
  • Provide replacement travel documents if your passport is lost or stolen. There is a fee for doing this.

What the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) won't do

  • Give you legal advice
  • Collect evidence or investigate crimes. In many countries investigating authorities and the courts may refuse to answer enquiries from other people and organisations, including consular staff
  • Influence the outcome of any trial
  • Assist with travel costs if you are asked to attend a trial abroad as a victim or witness
  • Provide general financial help including medical expenses
  • Get you out of prison.

If you need to contact the British Embassy or Consulate of the country you are staying in whilst you are away their contact details can be found on the travel advice section of FCDO website.

Next steps
See the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) website for more information.

  • Safety and security