0
By Humphrey Carter A new guide has been published by the Foreign Office to help the millions of Britons abroad, be they resident, on holiday or on business, each year. “Support for British Nationals Abroad: a Guide” was launched this week by the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. It is the first time that the details of exactly what the Foreign Office, in most cases via consulates and embassies, can and can not do to help Britons who find themselves in trouble abroad have been published in a single publication. The new guide has primarily been published to try and ease the pressure on Consulates and Embassies. Demand for Foreign Office help overseas is rising fast with Britons making three times as many trips overseas as they did in the mid-1980*s. There are 13 million Britons now living abroad. The guide sets out to clearly explain what services Embassies and Consulates can and can not provide. For example, Consular and Embassy staff can visit Britons in hospital, supply emergency visa or even work to rescue victims from forced marriages but they can not use public funds to cover medical costs or help find an overseas property. The Foreign Office can not get Britons out of jail. What is more, the guide also contains a wealth of tips on how to stay safe overseas and how travellers can protect themselves if things go wrong. Jack Straw said: “Falling sick, being a victim of crime or facing an emergency are traumatic events under any circumstances. When these problems happen abroad, they can be even more difficult and frightening. So there is no more important task for the Foreign Office than our work to help British nationals in distress overseas. I hope that this new Guide will help British nationals travelling or living abroad know what support we can offer in different cases.”