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What to Do If You're Arrested in a Foreign Country

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. | Last updated on

Foreign travel is often a time to explore, let loose and have a little fun.

It, however, is not a time to break local laws.

Being arrested abroad is serious business for a foreign traveler, so it's best to avoid the situation completely. But, if you are arrested in a foreign country, here's what you need to know.

If you are arrested abroad or in trouble with local authorities, the first thing you must do is contact the local United States Embassy or Consulate, or, if detained, request that they be notified of your detainment.

Under an international treaty, most nations will allow U.S. officials to see an incarcerated foreign traveler--but only if requested.

If you're arrested in a foreign country, U.S. Consular Officers can see you, but they can only do so much. Their most important duties are to put you in contact with your family and an attorney, and to make sure you are being treated fairly.

The U.S. will not demand your release or pay for your defense if arrested abroad. It is up to you and your family, with some exceptions, to provide for your needs.

Even if you don't expect to be arrested abroad, there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself before you leave the country.

First and foremost, look into local laws involving any activities that you might participate in. Second, keep in contact with a friend or family member in the U.S. And thirdly, leave a copy of your itinerary and documents with that person so they have information to give to the State Department if necessary.

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