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The Foreign & Commonwealth Office

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office are committed to knowing everything that is going on around the world and passing this information over to travellers. Although most overseas trips do go without a hitch, travellers still can, and do, run into trouble whilst they are away.

Thankfully, the FCO's fantastic website is full of information about everything you could ever want to know, from planning a trip to what happens if something does go wrong.

Advice

Travel Advice By Country

Your first call should be to the extensive Country Guide section. With a handy interactive map, you can choose the country you'll be travelling to and find out more about the political situation, legally required vaccinations, entry requirements, local laws and customs and the locations and phone numbers of the British Embassies. You can even sign up for travel alerts to keep you up to date on any political unrest or health issues you should watch out for when you're in the area.

The section is constantly updated so you can be safe in the knowledge that they know what they are talking about.

Specific Traveller Advice

The FCO website also has a section for backpackers, gay and lesbian travellers, women travellers and disabled travellers and is full of information about political and cultural considerations but also more practical things like transportation and accommodation while travelling. It's worth having a read through these sections, particularly if you plan to travel to less touristy countries then you can make sure you are prepared for any unwanted attention and have a better idea what to expect when you arrive.

LOCATE

The FCO have recently set up a new service, LOCATE, that allows travellers to register their contact details and travel plans the FCO. This way, if there is a catastrophe or problem in the country, the British Embassy will know you're there and can provide better assistance. If anything happens, the embassy can instantly contact you to check you are alright, offer advice and help family and friends get in touch. It only takes a few minutes to register and is ideal if you are travelling alone or are going to potentially unstable countries.

Check Your Checklist

The checklist, the old planning favourite, is given its own section on the FCO website, taking you through all the steps to making your trip go as smoothly as possible. From making sure your passport is valid to keeping in touch with home, this checklist has got everything covered. And can even be downloaded so you can print it out.

Passports and Visas.

The FCO can give you advice on visa requirements for each country and put you in contact with the relevant embassies so you can apply before you go or plan your trip accordingly. This section has all the information you need about passports and how you can go about applying for one if you don't have one or need to renew it.

Introducing your local British Consulate

You'll probably know that British Consulate offices exist in foreign countries, to assist British nationals while they're in the country. But do you know what they can actually do to help if you get into difficulty - and what they can't do?

For example, your local British Consulate can: But they can't:

No internet access?

If you can't access the internet, or you prefer to use the phone, you can get the same information by calling the 24hour FCO travel advice line: 0845 850 2829.