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Emergency Financial Assistance
June 2, 2015

What services does the Department of State provide to assist destitute U.S. citizens abroad who need temporary financial assistance?

The Office of Overseas Citizens Services in the U.S. Department of State, (888) 407-4747 (or from overseas +1 (202) 501-4444) can assist U.S. citizens who are temporarily destitute abroad because of an unanticipated emergency. If you find yourself in this 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 in the United States, or in their place of residence abroad, for financial help.  The American Citizen Services unit in the Consular Section of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate can assist in this effort.  U.S. embassy and consulate contact information is available in our Country Specific Information pages.
  • Wiring Money Directly: You, or your family, friends, or associates, may wire money directly to a U.S. citizen abroad by contacting Western Union, MoneyGram, or other similar commercial money transfer services with offices overseas.  There are money transfer cost comparison tools online to help you identify your 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!
  • Your Bank:  A destitute U.S. citizen abroad who has depleted his/her bank account or reached an overdraft limit 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 the replenished account quickly.
  • Your Credit Card Company:  Your credit card company may be able to increase your credit limit temporarily.  Report a lost/stolen credit card immediately to your credit card company.  Your credit card company may be able to send you a new card using an express delivery service.  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 funds and/or a new credit card may need to present proof of identity such as a passport.  See our information about replacement of lost or stolen U.S. passports abroad.  Inquire about the benefits your credit card company provides you overseas before you travel abroad.
  • 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.

What other assistance is available to a destitute U.S. citizen if family or friends cannot provide financial help?

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.