What services does the U.S. Department of State provide to destitute U.S. citizens abroad who need temporary financial assistance?
The U.S. Department of State’s Office of Overseas Citizens Services (888) 407-4747 (or from overseas +1 202-501-4444) can assist U.S. citizens who are temporarily destitute abroad. If you find yourself in such a situation, here are some options:
- Contacting Home: U.S. citizens in need of emergency financial assistance while abroad should first attempt to contact their family, friends, banking institution, or employer. The American Citizen Services unit in the Consular Section of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate can assist in this effort, if necessary.
- Wiring Money Directly: Use a commercial money transfer service, such as Western Union or MoneyGram ,to wire money overseas. There are money transfer cost comparison tools online to help you identify the best option. The person receiving the money will need to present proof of identity such as a passport. See our information about replacement of lost or stolen U.S. passports abroad. Be wary of International Financial Scams!
- Banks: A destitute U.S. citizen abroad who has depleted his/her bank account can arrange for friends or family to deposit additional funds in his/her account. This option allows the traveler to use an ATM card to access funds quickly.
- Credit Card Companies: Report lost/stolen credit cards immediately to your credit card company and request a replacement card via express delivery service, if available. Your credit card company may also be able to verify your credit card account directly to your hotel, airline, doctor, or hospital to enable you to check out of your hotel, obtain replacement airline tickets, or receive other emergency services. A person receiving a replacement credit card may need to present proof of identity such as a passport. Inquire about the benefits your credit card company provides you overseas before you travel abroad, including raising credit limits in case of emergency.
- Bank to Bank Transfers: It may be possible to transfer money directly from a bank in the United States to a bank in the foreign country where the U.S. citizen can receive the funds. Some foreign banks require that the U.S. citizen establish a foreign bank account to use this option. Bank to bank transfers can take several days to accomplish.
- Sending Money through the U.S. Department of State: When the commercial options listed above are not available or feasible due to the circumstance of the emergency, family or friends may send funds via the U.S. Department of State for delivery to a destitute U.S. citizen abroad at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. See Sending Money Overseas to a U.S. Citizen. The U.S. Department of State assesses a $30.00 fee to establish an account and transfer funds. For additional information, contact the U.S. Department of State, Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management, at (888) 407-4747 (or from overseas +1 202-501-4444).
What assistance is available for U.S. citizens with medical emergencies abroad?
Consult the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate’s website for a list of hospitals and doctors. Your hotel concierge may also be a good resource. The availability and quality of medical services available can vary greatly depending on your location. Read the Medical Facilities and Health Information section in our country information pages. Review our Medical Insurance page for information about medical coverage abroad, air ambulances, and medical evacuation companies.
Limited emergency medical assistance loans may be available on a reimbursable basis for eligible temporarily destitute U.S. citizens and their qualified dependents. Your U.S. passports will be limited at the time the loan is issued and in most cases you will not be issued a new passport until the loan is paid in full.
Destitute U.S. citizens in need of help overseas should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate or the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, at (888) 407-4747 (or from overseas +1 202-501-4444), for information about other assistance options and eligibility requirements.