On March 19, the U.S. Department of State issued a new advisory that asks U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the coronavirus. U.S. citizens traveling and residing abroad are encouraged to arrange for immediate commercial travel to return home to the United States. We understand this is a difficult time, and we assembled some information below that we hope our constituents will find helpful. Should you have any questions, my team stands ready to assist.
How to Contact the Local U.S. Embassy When You Are Abroad
If you are a U.S. citizen and find yourself unable to return home to the United States due to commercial travel restrictions, contact the American Citizen Service (ACS) team at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you are located. Contact information can be found on the U.S. Embassy website in the country where you are located. Visit https://www.usembassy.gov/ to learn more.
Email the ACS email listed on the country-specific U.S. Embassy website. Individuals abroad or their families should feel free to contact my office as well, at 818-450-2900. My team is happy to reach out to the necessary missions on your behalf, but it is also important for individuals in the country to keep in close contact with the local Embassy staff for current, on the ground updates.
The Department will likely ask you to provide the following information:
- Date of Birth
- Passport Number
- Phone number where the State Department can reach you at your current location
- Any medical or existent circumstances the Department should be aware of
How to Receive Timely Updates and Help the U.S. Embassy Stay in Touch With You While You Are Abroad
In addition, U.S. citizens residing and traveling abroad are strongly encouraged to enroll in the Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, available here: https://step.state.gov/. This program is free and allows the Department to transmit timely information to you regarding security and safety conditions in the host country and get in touch with you in an emergency. In circumstances like this, access to timely information is a vital resource.
Understanding Department of State Resources, the Recent U.S. Travel Advisories, and Foreign Country Travel Restrictions
We understand that circumstances are changing day by day, and we continue to work closely with the Department of State in Washington and in U.S. Embassies all over the world to care for our constituents traveling and residing abroad. The Department of State continues to note that commercial transportation is the best option to return home while host country infrastructure and communication remain intact. The new global level 4 travel advisory released on March 19 encourages all U.S. citizens to make commercial arrangements to return home to the United States as soon as possible.
Stay in close contact with U.S. Embassy personnel and explore all commercially available options for returning to the United States. Please familiarize yourself with the detailed information about Department of State Crisis Operations here.
We understand that scenes on the ground are changing quickly and that many countries are implementing travel restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus. For a list of country-specific information on foreign travel restrictions, please consult this Department Of State page.
In extreme conditions, if commercial transportation ceases to be available, and if there are consular officers at the pertinent embassy or consulate, and if conditions permit, there may be circumstances where Department of State can help identify—and in some cases, arrange—means of available transportation. Even in such an instance, people are generally responsible for reimbursing the government for the cost of their travel. Enroll in the STEP program noted above and stay in frequent communication with the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate for updated information.
For additional information concerning country-specific information, travel advisories, locating loved ones overseas in crisis, emergency financial assistance, emergencies, and evacuations, please visit travel.state.gov. My staff stands ready to help you navigate processes and better understand available options for you and your loved ones abroad.
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