When you travel abroad, the odds are in your favor that you will have a safe and incident-free trip. However, sometimes travelers experience unexpected difficulties or are even victims of crime and violence. No one is better able to tell you this than the U.S. consular officers who work in more than 250 U.S. embassies and consulates around the globe. Every day of the year, U.S. embassies and consulates receive calls from American citizens in distress. Happily, most problems can be solved over the telephone or by a visit to the Consular Section of the nearest U.S.embassy or consulate. There are other occasions, however, when U.S. consular officers are called upon to help U.S. citizens who are in foreign hospitals or prisons, or to assist the families of U.S. citizens who have passed away overseas. Many of the following travel safety tips come directly from the professionals at the U.S. Department of State. Following them can help you avoid serious difficulties during your overseas travel.

Packing Tips

What to Take

passport laying on a book and suitcase in the grass

    • Safety begins when you pack. To help avoid
      becoming a target, do not dress in a way that marks yourself as an
      affluent tourist. Expensive-looking jewelry and designer accessories,
      for instance, can draw the wrong attention.


    • Always try to travel light. You
      can move more quickly and will be more likely to have a free hand. You
      will also be less tired and less likely to set your luggage down,
      leaving it unattended.


    • Carry the minimum number of valuables, and plan places to conceal them.
      Your passport, cash and credit cards are most secure when locked in a
      hotel safe. When you have to carry them on your person, you may wish to
      put them in various places rather than all in one wallet or pouch.
      Avoid handbags, fanny packs and outside pockets that are easy targets
      for thieves. Inside pockets and a sturdy shoulder bag with the strap
      worn across your chest are somewhat safer. One of the safest places to
      carry valuables is in a pouch or money belt worn under your clothing.


    • If you wear glasses, pack an extra pair. Bring them and any medicines you need in your carry-on luggage.


    • Pack medications correctly and bring documentation. To
      avoid problems when passing through customs, keep medicines in their
      original, labeled containers. Bring copies of your prescriptions and
      the generic names for the drugs. If a medication is unusual or contains
      narcotics, carry a letter from your doctor attesting to your need to
      take the drug. If you have any doubt about the legality of carrying a
      certain drug into a country, consult the embassy or consulate of that
      country before you travel.


    • Avoid traveling with large amounts of cash. Bring travelers checks and one or two major credit cards instead.


    • Bring copies of your IDs and credit card information. Having an extra set of passport photos along with a photocopy of your passport’s information page will make replacement of your passport
      easier in the event it is lost or stolen. Similarly, having your credit
      card numbers and the phone numbers of the issuing banks can save you
      headaches if you are separated from your cards.


    • Label your bags.
      Put your name, address and telephone numbers inside and outside of each
      piece of luggage. Use covered luggage tags to avoid casual observation
      of your identity or nationality. If possible, lock your luggage.


    • Get a telephone calling card.
      It is a convenient way of keeping in touch. If you have one, verify
      that you can use it from your overseas location(s). Access numbers to
      U.S. operators are published in many international newspapers. Find out
      your access number before you go.


What to Leave Behind

    • Anything irreplaceable – This includes
      valuable or expensive-looking jewelry, family heirlooms, or other
      precious objects with sentimental value. Lost luggage is a real
      problem, especially when you cross multiple borders and are
      transferring between multiple flights.


    • Extra cards and identification documents –
      Your Social Security card, library card, extra credit cards, the
      loyalty card for your local deli, and any similar items you may
      routinely carry in your wallet don’t need to travel with you.
      Similarly, you do not need to bring documents like your birth
      certificate. The one exception may be a marriage certificate if your
      name has changed but your passport has not. For more on passport name
      changes, check out our complete guide here.


    • A copy of your itinerary – leave a list of where
      you plan to be, your dates of travel, and any relevant contact
      information for places you will be staying with family or friends at
      home in case they need to contact you in an emergency.


    • Backup copies of key documents and cards – Make two photocopies of your passport identification page,
      airline tickets, driver’s license and the credit cards that you plan to
      bring with you. Leave one photocopy of this data with family or friends
      at home; pack the other in a place separate from where you carry the
      originals. Also, plan to leave a copy of the serial numbers of your
      travelers’ checks with a friend or relative at home. Carry your copy
      with you in a separate place and, as you cash the checks, cross them
      off the list.


What to Learn About Before You Go

glasses resting on a notebook in front of a laptop


The Department of State’s Country Specific Information are available
for every country of the world. They describe entry requirements,
currency regulations, unusual health conditions, the crime and security
situation, political disturbances, areas of instability, and special
information about driving and road conditions. They also provide
addresses and emergency telephone numbers for U.S. embassies and
consulates. In general, Country Specific Information pages do not give
advice. Instead, they describe conditions so travelers can make
informed decisions about their trips.
For some countries, however, the Department of State issues a Travel Warning
in addition to a Country Specific Information. The Travel Warning may
recommend that Americans postpone or entirely avoid travel to that
country because of a dangerous situation there.
Travel Alerts are a means to disseminate information
about relatively short-term conditions posing significant risk to the
security of American travelers. They are issued when there is a
perceived threat, even if it does not involve Americans as a particular
target group. In the past, Travel Alerts have been issued to deal with
coups, pre-election disturbances, violence by terrorists and
anniversary dates of specific terrorist events.
You can access Country Specific Information, Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts 24-hours a day in several ways.

    • Online – The most convenient source of
      information about travel and consular services is the Consular Affairs
      home page. The web site address is http://travel.state.gov .


    • Telephone

      Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747 can answer general
      inquiries on safety and security overseas. This number is available
      from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except
      U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free
      numbers, such as those calling from overseas, can obtain information
      and assistance from OCS during these hours by calling 1-202-501-4444.


    • In Person – Country Specific Information, Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts are available at any of the regional passport agencies and U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.


Local Laws and Customs

When you leave the United States , you are subject to the laws of the
country you are visiting. Therefore, before you go, learn as much as
you can about the local laws and customs of the places you plan to
visit. Good resources are your library, your travel agent, and the
embassies, consulates or tourist bureaus of the countries you will
visit. In addition, keep track of what is being reported in the media
about recent developments in those countries.

Things to Arrange Before You Go

open passport book next to a camera

Your Passport

First and foremost, you will need a valid U.S. Passport to travel abroad.

If you do not have a passport, your passport is expired, or your passport does not have enough remaining validity to enter your destination country, be sure to take steps as soon as possible to address the issue. If time is short, there are registered passport expediting services that can help get you the documentation you need to travel quickly – sometimes as quickly as within 24 hours.

Also, be sure to brush up on what you can do to keep your passport safe while overseas with our guide to protecting your passport while you travel abroad.

Your Itinerary

As much as possible, plan to stay in larger hotels that have more
elaborate security. Safety experts recommend booking a room from the
second to seventh floors above ground level – high enough to deter easy
entry from outside, but low enough for fire equipment to reach.

When there is a choice of airport or airline, ask your travel agent about comparative safety records.

Pay for as much of your itinerary in advance as you can. This will
limit the amount of money you will have to carry with you on your trip
and help make your travels that much more stress-free. Of course, be
sure to look into traveler’s insurance to cover yourself in case of any
cancellations or issues (more on that later).

Legal Documents

Have your affairs in order at home. If you leave a current will,
insurance documents, and power of attorney with your family or a
friend, you can feel secure about traveling and will be prepared for
any emergency that may arise while you are away. If you have minor
children, consider making guardianship arrangements for them.

Register your travel

It is a good idea to register your travel with the State Department so
that you may be contacted if need be, whether because of a family
emergency in the U.S., or because of a crisis in the area in which you
are traveling. Travel registration is a free service provided by the
State Department, and is easily accomplished online at https://travelregistration.state.gov.
(In accordance with the Privacy Act, the Department of State may not
release information on your welfare or whereabouts to inquirers without
your express written authorization.)

Credit Cards

paying with shopping bags

Make a note of the credit limit on each credit card that you bring, and
avoid charging over that limit while traveling. Americans have been
arrested for innocently exceeding their credit limit. Ask your credit
card company how to report the loss of your card from abroad. 1-800
numbers do not work from abroad, but your company should have a number
that you can call while you are overseas.

Before you go, be sure to notify the issuing banks of any cards you
plan on using abroad. Most credit card companies have automated fraud
prevention policies that will flag and possibly freeze your account if
it is being used in an unusual way (like in a different country than
your billing address).


Find out if your personal property insurance covers you for loss
or theft abroad. Also, check on whether your health insurance covers
you abroad. Medicare and Medicaid do not provide payment for medical
care outside the United States. Even if your health insurance will
reimburse you for medical care that you pay for abroad, health
insurance usually does not pay for medical evacuation from a remote
area or from a country where medical facilities are inadequate.

Consider purchasing a policy designed for travelers, and covering
short-term health and emergency assistance, as well as medical
evacuation in the event of an accident or serious illness. These
policies often offer options to protect against costs associated with
cancellations or other trip issues which may be worth pursuing as well.

Precautions to Take While Traveling

Safety on the Street

crowded city corsswalk

Use the same common sense traveling overseas that you would at home.
Be especially cautious in (or avoid) areas where you may be more easily
victimized. These include crowded subways, train stations, elevators,
tourist sites, market places, festivals and crime-ridden neighborhoods.

    • Don’t use short cuts, narrow alleys or poorly lit streets.


    • Try not to travel alone at night.


    • Avoid public demonstrations and other civil disturbances.


    • Keep a low profile and avoid loud conversations or arguments.


    • Do not discuss travel plans or other personal matters with strangers.


    • Avoid
      scam artists by being wary of strangers who approach you and offer to
      be your guide or sell you something at bargain prices.


    • Beware
      of pickpockets. They often have an accomplice who will distract you by
      jostling you, asking for directions or the time, pointing to something
      spilled on your clothing, or creating a disturbance.


    • Beware of groups of vagrant children who create a distraction while picking your pocket.


    • Wear
      the shoulder strap of your bag across your chest and walk with the bag
      away from the curb to avoid drive-by purse-snatchers.


    • Try
      to seem purposeful when you move about. Even if you are lost, act as if
      you know where you are going. Try to ask for directions only from
      individuals in authority.


    • Know how to use a pay telephone and have the proper change, card, or token on hand.


    • Learn
      a few phrases in the local language or have them handy in written form
      so that you can signal your need for police or medical help.


    • Make a note of emergency telephone numbers you may need: police, fire, your hotel, and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.


    • If you are confronted, don’t fight back — give up your valuables.


Safety in Your Hotel

hotel hallway with night lighting

    • Keep your hotel door locked at all times. Meet visitors in the lobby.


    • Do not leave money and other valuables in your hotel room while you are out. Use the hotel safe.


    • If you are out late at night, let someone know when you expect to return.


    • If you are alone, do not get on an elevator if there is a suspicious-looking person inside.


    • Read
      the fire safety instructions in your hotel room. Know how to report a
      fire, and be sure you know where the nearest fire exits and alternate
      exits are located. (Count the doors between your room and the nearest
      exit; this could be a lifesaver if you have to crawl through a
      smoke-filled corridor.


Safety on Public Transportation

man waiting on a train platform

If a country has a pattern of tourists being targeted by criminals on
public transport, that information is mentioned in the Country Specific
Information in the section about crime.

    • Taxis – Only take taxis clearly identified with official markings. Beware of unmarked cabs.Ride-sharing services have grown in popularity all around the world.
      That said, only use services that include GPS tracking of both you and
      your driver.


    • Trains –
      Well-organized, systematic robbery of passengers on trains along
      popular tourist routes is a problem. It is more common at night and
      especially on overnight trains.Avoid If you see your way
      being blocked by a stranger and another person is very close to you
      from behind, move away. This can happen in the corridor of the train or
      on the platform or station.Do not accept food or drink from strangers. Criminals have been known
      to drug food or drink offered to passengers. Criminals may also spray
      sleeping gas in train compartments. Where possible, lock your
      compartment. If it cannot be locked securely, take turns sleeping in
      shifts with your traveling companions. If that is not possible, stay
      awake. If you must sleep unprotected, tie down your luggage and secure
      your valuables to the extent possible.

      Do not be afraid to alert authorities if you feel threatened in any
      way. Extra police are often assigned to ride trains on routes where
      crime is a serious problem.


    • Buses –
      The same type of criminal activity found on trains can be found on
      public buses on popular tourist routes. For example, tourists have been
      drugged and robbed while sleeping on buses or in bus stations. In some
      countries, whole busloads of passengers have been held up and robbed by
      gangs of bandits.


Safety When You Drive

cars stopped in city traffic

    • Rent a common car for your locale. Where possible, ask that markings that identify it as a rental car be removed.


    • Make certain the vehicle is in good repair.


    • Check for helpful amenities.
      If available, choose a car with universal door locks and power windows,
      features that give the driver better control of access. An air
      conditioner, when available, is also a safety feature, allowing you to
      drive with windows closed. Thieves can and do snatch purses through
      open windows of moving cars.


    • Keep car doors locked at all times.


    • Wear seat belts.


    • Avoid driving at night as much as possible.


    • Don’t leave valuables in the car.
      If you must carry things with you, keep them out of sight locked in the
      trunk, and then take them with you when you leave the car.


    • Don’t park your car on the street overnight. If the hotel or municipality does not have a parking garage or other secure area, select a well-lit area.


    • Never pick up hitchhikers.


    • Avoid suspicious looking individuals. Don’t get out of the car if there are people nearby that seem concerning. Drive away.


Patterns of Crime Against Motorists

In many places frequented by tourists, including areas of southern
Europe, victimization of motorists has been refined to an art. Where it
is a problem, U.S. embassies are aware of it and consular officers try
to work with local authorities to warn the public about the dangers. In
some locations, these efforts at public awareness have paid off,
reducing the frequency of incidents. You may also wish to ask your
rental car agency for advice on avoiding robbery while visiting tourist
Carjackers and thieves operate at gas stations, parking lots, in city
traffic and along the highway. Be suspicious of anyone who hails you or
tries to get your attention when you are in or near your car.
Criminals use ingenious ploys. They may pose as good Samaritans,
offering help for tires that they claim are flat or that they have made
flat. Or they may flag down a motorist, ask for assistance, and then
steal the rescuer’s luggage or car. Usually they work in groups, one
person carrying on the pretense while the others rob you.
Other criminals get your attention with abuse, either trying to drive
you off the road, or causing an “accident” by rear-ending you.
In some urban areas, thieves don’t waste time on ploys, they simply
smash car windows at traffic lights, grab your valuables or your car
and get away. In cities around the world, “defensive driving” has come
to mean more than avoiding auto accidents; it means keeping an eye out
for potentially criminal pedestrians, cyclists and scooter riders.

How to Handle Money Safely

pile of different types of currency

To avoid carrying large amounts of cash, change your travelers
checks only as you need currency. Countersign travelers checks only in
front of the person who will cash them.

Do not flash large amounts of money when paying a bill. Make sure your credit card is returned to you after each transaction.

Deal only with authorized agents when you exchange money, buy airline
tickets or purchase souvenirs. Do not change money on the black market.

If your possessions are lost or stolen, report the loss immediately to
the local police. Keep a copy of the police report for insurance claims
and as an explanation of your plight.
After reporting missing items to the police, report the loss or theft of:

    • travelers’ checks to the nearest agent of the issuing company


    • credit cards to the issuing company


    • airline tickets to the airline or travel agent


    • passport to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate


How to Avoid Legal Difficulties

gavel resting on a black background

When you are in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws and are
under its jurisdiction. You can be arrested overseas for actions that
may be either legal or considered minor infractions in the United
States. Familiarize yourself with legal expectations in the countries
you will visit. Country Specific Information include information on
unusual patterns of arrests in particular countries, as appropriate.
Some of the offenses for which U.S. citizens have been arrested abroad are:

Drug Violations

More than 1/3 of U.S. citizens incarcerated abroad are held on drug
charges. Some countries do not distinguish between possession and
trafficking, and many have mandatory sentences – even for possession of
a small amount of marijuana or cocaine. A number of Americans have been
arrested for possessing prescription drugs, particularly tranquilizers
and amphetamines, that they purchased legally elsewhere. Other U.S.
citizens have been arrested for purchasing prescription drugs abroad in
quantities that local authorities suspected were for commercial use. If
in doubt about foreign drug laws, ask local authorities or the nearest
U.S. embassy or consulate.

Possession of Firearms

The places where U.S. citizens most often experience difficulties for
illegal possession of firearms are nearby – Mexico, Canada and the
Caribbean. Sentences for possession of firearms in Mexico can be up to
30 years. In general, firearms, even those legally registered in the
U.S., cannot be brought into a country unless a permit is obtained in
advance from the embassy or a consulate of that country and the firearm
is registered with foreign authorities on arrival. (Note: There are
also strict rules about bringing firearms or ammunition into the U.S – check out our complete guide to prohibited items before your trip.


In many countries you can be detained for photographing
security-related institutions, such things as police and military
installations, government buildings, border areas and transportation
facilities. If you are in doubt, ask permission before taking

Purchasing Antiques

Americans have been arrested for purchasing souvenirs that were, or
looked like, antiques and which local customs authorities believed were
national treasures. This is especially true in Turkey, Egypt and
Mexico. Familiarize yourself with any local regulations of antiques. In
countries with strict control of antiques, document your purchases as
reproductions if that is the case, or if they are authentic, secure the
necessary export permit (often from the national museum). It is a good
idea to inquire about exporting these items before you purchase them.


Terrorist acts occur unpredictably, making it impossible to protect
yourself absolutely. The first and best protection is to avoid travel
to areas where there has been a persistent record of terrorist attacks
or kidnappings.

Most terrorist attacks are the result of careful planning. Just as a
car thief will first be attracted to an unlocked car with the key in
the ignition, terrorists are looking for the most accessible targets.
The chances that a tourist, traveling with an unpublished program or
itinerary, would be the victim of terrorism are slight. In addition,
many terrorist groups, seeking publicity for political causes within
their own country or region, may not be looking for American targets.
Nevertheless, the following pointers may help you avoid becoming a
target of opportunity. They should be considered as adjuncts to the
tips listed in the previous sections on how to protect yourself against
the far greater likelihood of being a victim of crime. These
precautions may provide some degree of protection, and can serve as
practical and psychological deterrents to would-be terrorists.

    • Schedule direct flights if possible and avoid stops in high-risk airports or areas.


    • Be cautious about what you discuss with strangers or what others may overhear.


    • Try
      to minimize the time spent in the public area of an airport, which is a
      less protected area. Move quickly from the check-in counter to the
      secured areas. Upon arrival, leave the airport as soon as possible.


    • As much as possible, avoid luggage tags, dress and behavior that may identify you as an American.


    • Keep
      an eye out for abandoned packages or briefcases, or other suspicious
      items. Report them to airport authorities and leave the area promptly.


    • Avoid obvious terrorist targets such as places where Americans and Westerners are known to congregate.


Travel to High-Risk Areas

caution tape across a night scene

If you must travel in an area where there has been a history of terrorist attacks or kidnappings, make it a habit to:

    • Discuss with your family what they would do in the event of
      an emergency. Make sure your affairs are in order before leaving home.


    • As noted earlier, it’s a good idea to register your travel with the Department of State. This may be accomplished online at https://travelregistration.state.gov. Registration will make it easier to contact you in case of an emergency.


    • Remember
      to leave a detailed itinerary and the numbers or copies of your
      passport or other citizenship documents with a friend or relative in
      the United States.


    • Remain friendly but be cautious about discussing personal matters or your itinerary.


    • Leave no personal or business papers in your hotel room.


    • Watch for people following you or “loiterers” observing your comings and goings.


    • Keep
      a mental note of safe havens, such as police stations, hotels, and
      hospitals. Formulate a plan of action for what you will do if a bomb
      explodes or there is gunfire nearby.


    • Let someone else know what your travel plans are. Keep them informed if you change your plans.


    • Report any suspicious activity to local police, and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.


    • Select
      your own taxicabs at random. Don’t take a vehicle that is not clearly
      identified as a taxi. Compare the face of the driver with the one on
      his or her posted license.


    • If possible, travel with others.


    • Be
      sure of the identity of visitors before opening the door of your hotel
      room. Don’t meet strangers at your hotel room, or at unknown or remote


    • Refuse unexpected packages.


    • Check for loose wires or other suspicious activity around your car.


    • Be sure your vehicle is in good operating condition.


    • Drive with car windows closed in crowded streets. Bombs can be thrown through open windows.


    • If
      you are ever in a situation where somebody starts shooting, drop to the
      floor or get down as low as possible. Don’t move until you are sure the
      danger has passed. Do not attempt to help rescuers and do not pick up a
      weapon. If possible, shield yourself behind a solid object. If you must
      move, crawl on your stomach.


Hijacking/Hostage Situations

While every hostage situation is different, there are some general considerations to keep in mind:

    • The U.S. Government’s policy is firm: we do not make
      concessions to terrorists. When Americans are abducted overseas, we
      look to the host government to exercise its responsibility under
      international law to protect all persons within its territories and to
      bring about the safe release of hostages. We work closely with these
      governments from the outset of a hostage-taking incident to ensure that
      our citizens and other victims are released as quickly and safely as


    • At the outset of a terrorist incident, the
      terrorists typically are tense, high-strung and may behave
      irrationally. It is extremely important that you remain calm and alert
      and manage your own behavior.


    • Avoid resistance and sudden
      or threatening movements. Do not struggle or try to escape unless you
      are certain of being successful. Don’t try to be a hero, endangering
      yourself and others.


    • Consciously put yourself in a mode of
      passive cooperation. Talk normally. Do not complain, avoid
      belligerency, and comply with all orders and instructions.


    • If questioned, keep your answers short. Don’t volunteer information or make unnecessary overtures.


    • Make a concerted effort to relax. Prepare yourself mentally, physically and emotionally for the possibility of a long ordeal.


    • Try to remain inconspicuous, avoid direct eye contact and the appearance of observing your captors’ actions.


    • Avoid
      alcoholic beverages. Eat what they give you, even if it does not look
      or taste appetizing, but keep consumption of food and drink at a
      moderate level. A loss of appetite and weight is normal.


    • If
      you are involved in a lengthier, drawn-out situation, try to establish
      a rapport with your captors, avoiding political discussions or other
      confrontational subjects.


    • Establish a daily program of mental and physical activity.


    • Think
      positively. Avoid a sense of despair. Rely on your inner resources.
      Remember that you are a valuable commodity to your captors. It is
      important to them to keep you alive and well.


Assistance Abroad

The Consular Section can provide updated information on the security situation in a country.

If you are ill or injured, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or
consulate for a list of local physicians and medical facilities. If you
request, consular officers will help you contact family or friends. If
necessary, a consul can assist in the transfer of funds from family or
friends in the United States. Payment of hospital and other medical
expenses is your responsibility.
Should you find yourself in legal difficulty, contact a consular
officer immediately. Consular officers cannot serve as attorneys, give
legal advice, or get you out of jail. If you are arrested, consular
officials will visit you, advise you of your rights under local laws,
provide a list of local attorneys who speak English and who may have
had experience in representing U.S. citizens, and ensure that you are
held under humane conditions and are treated fairly under local law. A
consular officer will contact your family or friends if you desire.
When necessary, consuls can transfer money from home for you and will
try to get relief for you, including food and clothing in countries
where this is a problem. If you are detained, remember that under
international treaties and customary international law, you have the
right to talk to the U.S. consul. If you are denied this right, be
politely persistent. Try to have someone get in touch for you.

Resources for U.S. Citizen Crime Victims

When a U.S. citizen becomes the victim of a crime overseas, he or she
may suffer physical, emotional, or financial injuries. The emotional
impact of the crime may be intensified if the victim is in unfamiliar
surroundings, far away from sources of comfort and support, and not
fluent in the local language or knowledgeable about local laws and
customs. Consuls and consular agents can provide assistance to U.S.
citizen crime victims
If you become the victim of a crime overseas, contact the nearest U.S.
embassy, consulate, or consular agency for assistance. Also contact
local police to report the incident and obtain immediate help with
safety concerns.
While consular officials cannot investigate a crime, provide legal
advice, represent you in court, serve as official interpreters or
translators, or pay legal, medical, or other fees for U.S. citizens,
they can assist crime victims in many other ways. Consular personnel
overseas are familiar with local government agencies and resources in
the countries in which they are located, and they can help you:

    • replace a stolen passport


    • contact family, friends, or employers


    • obtain appropriate medical care


    • address emergency needs that arise as a result of the crime


    • obtain general information about the local criminal justice process and information about your case


    • obtain information about local resources to assist victims, including foreign crime victim compensation programs


    • obtain information about crime victim assistance and compensation programs in the U.S.


    • obtain a list of local attorneys who speak English


Victim Assistance

If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, you may benefit
from specialized resources for crime victims available in the United
States. Throughout the United States, thousands of local crime victim
assistance programs offer help to victims of violent crime and most
will help residents of their community who have been the victim of a
crime in another country. These include rape crisis counseling
programs, shelter and counseling programs for battered women, support
groups and bereavement counseling for family members of homicide
victims, diagnostic and treatment programs for child abuse victims,
assistance for victims of drunk driving crashes, and others.
Information about locating crime victim assistance programs is below.

Victim Compensation

All states operate crime victim compensation programs and nearly
half of them offer benefits to their residents who are victims of
violent crime overseas. (See contact information for state compensation
programs below.) These state compensation programs provide financial
assistance to eligible victims for reimbursement of expenses such as
medical treatment, counseling, funeral costs, lost income or loss of
support, and others. Generally, victim compensation programs require
the victim to report the crime to law enforcement and they usually
request a copy of the police report.

Contact Information for Victim Compensation and Assistance Programs

Information about each state’s crime victim compensation program and
how to apply for compensation is available on the Internet at the web
site of the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards, http://www.nacvcb.org/ .

The toll-free 24 hours a day / 7 days a week hotline for sexual assault
crisis counseling and referrals in the United States is 1-800-656-HOPE.
It is operated by a non-profit organization, RAINN (Rape, Abuse and
Incest National Network), which also has information on the Internet at
http://www.rainn.org/ .

Information about local sexual assault victim assistance programs in
the U.S. is also available from each state’s sexual assault coalition.
Contact information for these state coalitions are listed on the web
site of the U.S. Department of Justice Violence Against Women Office, http://www.usdoj.gov/ovw/ .

The toll-free 24 hours a day /7 days a week National Domestic Violence
Hotline, which provides crisis counseling and referrals in the U.S. is
Information about local domestic violence victim assistance programs in
the U.S. is also available from each state’s domestic violence
coalition. Contact information for these state coalitions is listed at
the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice Violence Against Women
Office, http://www.usdoj.gov/ovw/ .

The toll-free 24 hours a day/7 days a week crisis counseling and
referral line for families and friends of those who have died by
violence is 1-888-818-POMC. It is operated by a non-profit
organization, POMC, Inc. (The National Organization of Parents of
Murdered Children), which also has information on the Internet at http://www.pomc.org/ .

Information about national and local resources for victims and family
members of victims of drunk driving crashes is available at the web
site of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, http://www.madd.org/ .

Contact information for non-emergency victim assistance services in
communities throughout the U.S. is available at the web site of the
U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime, https://www.ovc.gov/help .

Information for crime victims on the impact of crime, safety planning,
legal rights and civil legal remedies, and options for assistance and
referrals to local programs is also available from the National Crime
Victim Center (NCVC). Call toll free (8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. EST)
1-800-FYI-CALL or call TTY for hearing impaired (8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
EST) 1-800-211-7996. Information is also available on the Internet at http://www.ncvc.org/ .

Information and referral to victim assistance programs is available
from the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA). Call
toll-free 24 hours a day / 7 days a week 1-800-TRY-NOVA. Information is
also available on the Internet at http://www.try-nova.org/ .

Information about victim assistance programs in approximately 20
countries is available at the web site of Victim Assistance Online, http://www.vaonline.org/.

Also, consult the State Department brochure entitled Help for American Victims of Crime Overseas.

Source: U.S. Department of State

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