Confused callers have looked to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for advice on bizarre issues ranging from where to buy English bacon in Europe, how to recruit a butler in Lebanon and how to avoid nudists in southern Spain.
The FCO has released details of the ten weirdest consular calls it has received in the past year, as a reminder to Brits overseas that they should only look to use its services for genuine emergencies.
The calls included:
- A man planning to move to Spain who was worried he would encounter nudists walking through the streets.
- A homesick expat asking where he could buy English bacon.
- A lady in Lebanon looking for help to recruit an English butler.
- A holidaymaker trying to find travel advice for a visit to Coventry
- A European filmmaker looking for an English pensioner to play a part in his new film
- A woman who was disappointed the British Embassy had not sent someone to give her a tour of St. Petersburg on her arrival in Russia.
- A man asking for assistance to get illegal employment in Singapore
- A mother asking for the contact details of a young British YouTuber, as her son was a fan of his Minecraft videos.
- A confused businessman looking for information on the construction of plug sockets.
- A man in South Korea asking what he could do with his old pound notes.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister James Duddridge said: "Our consular staff are a helpful bunch and do an amazing job helping out Brits in trouble around the world, but it is important that people remember they are there to help with genuine emergencies and not as an alternative to directory enquiries.
"Every minute they spend handling a call requesting advice on butlers or nudists is time taken away from dealing with life and death cases, so I urge the public to think before picking up the phone."
Latest FCO figures show that over the last year almost half a million calls were made to its consular service, which provides emergency help to Britons in trouble overseas. The vast majority were from people with genuine requests and the FCO assisted with numerous cases, including 3,250 Brits who were hospitalised, 4,770 who were arrested, and the families of 3,670 who died overseas. Almost 38,000 replacement travel documents were issued.
British residents in Spain made more than 13,000 telephone enquiries in the past year, of which a quarter could have been resolved if callers had first searched www.gov.uk. The most frequent topics - for which there is plenty of information online - included applying for a British passport, getting UK documents legalised and registering a birth, death or marriage. In addition, nearly 2,000 of the total calls were inappropriately seeking ‘lifestyle’ advice, with questions sometimes similar to the more bizarre examples received worldwide.
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