Brits abroad urged to use FCO appropriately

08 April 2016 10:09

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office head office in London

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office head office in London

Some British travellers abroad have been wasting the time of busy Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) staff with non-urgent requests.

The FCO has revealed a list of its 10 strangest inquiries in the past 12 months, mainly from British holidaymakers or expats.

One man wanted to know how best to avoid nudists on the streets of Spain.

Another expat phoned to ask where he could purchase English-made bacon.

Serious message

There is a serious message behind the FCO's light-hearted revelations.

The FCO says it only attends to urgent problems concerning Britons abroad and it wants travellers to know what its remit is.

In the past year alone it:

• replaced nearly 38,000 travel documents

• helped 4,770 Britons who found themselves arrested abroad

• assisted the relatives of 3,670 Britons who died overseas

• helped 3,250 UK nationals who had to stay in hospital

Travel insurance

The FCO's Kelvin Green says that Britons abroad can make life easier for themselves by ensuring they have valid travel insurance and documents ready.

Such insurance can protect travellers should the worst happen, such as lost passports or other documents, and lost belongings.

Non-emergency calls

A Lebanon-based lady seeking help to employ a butler from England is on the FCO's list of non-urgent calls.

The others include:

• a South Korea-based man who asked what he should do with pound notes that had gone out of circulation

• a UK male who wanted help to obtain an illegal job in Singapore

• a woman in Russia expressing her regret that British Embassy officials did not provide her with a St Petersburg tour guide

• a Europe-based filmmaker who wanted to recruit a stereotypical English pensioner to feature in his latest movie

• a businessman who wanted to know how plug sockets were constructed

What the expert says

Mr Green says the FCO will do everything in its power to assist Britons with difficulty abroad.

But he says what it cannot do is:

• lend Britons some money if they are victims of thieves or have mislaid cash

• secure their release from prison in the event of their arrest

• arrange flights back to Britain if their tickets go missing

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