What to do in an Emergency

Things can go wrong on holiday. You could fall ill or have an accident; you could have money or luggage stolen; your family may need to fly out to be with you if there is a serious incident.

If something does go wrong while you are abroad, you should first contact your family and/or friends at home. They may be able to resolve your difficulty for you or help you to do so without further assistance. If necessary, you should also contact your tour operator representative and travel insurance provider as quickly as possible.


If necessary, the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin or the Irish Embassy or Consulate closest to where you are may be able to assist. If you contact our offices abroad outside their normal opening times, telephone answering machines are usually available and are usually monitored outside office hours and over the weekend.

You will find a list of all our offices abroad and their contact details here.

The Department of Foreign Affairs operates a Consular Assistance Unit in Dublin which provides advice, support and assistance to Irish citizens in emergency situations around the world and to family members in Ireland who are concerned about the welfare of an Irish citizen abroad. The Unit operates during normal Irish office hours (Monday-Friday). Should you require assistance or advice you can make contact with the Unit by telephoning 01 408 2000 or +353 1 408 2000 from outside Ireland.

Outside our normal office hours, an Emergency Duty Officer is available at all other times (including weekends), 365 days a year. The contact number for our after-hours service is as above (01 408 2000 / +353 1 408 2000). Please be advised that the Emergency Duty Officer should only be contacted in the event of a genuine emergency abroad. If your query is not urgent, please wait until the next working day before making contact with the Consular Assistance Unit.

The nearest Irish Embassy or Consulate can help

  • If you have been the victim of a crime
  • If you require urgent medical treatment
  • If you lose your passport
  • If you have been arrested or imprisoned
  • If you require assistance in connection with a death abroad
  • If you need help accessing funds
  • If you need to be repatriated to Ireland
  • If there is a natural disaster/crisis

If You Have Been The Victim Of A Crime

The Embassy can:

  • Inform family or friends of your situation
  • Help you to transfer funds from home if this is necessary
  • Provide a list of English-speaking lawyers
  • Assist in liaising with the local police
  • In exceptional circumstances, advance funds to you on the basis of a strict undertaking to repay the funds when you return to Ireland
  • Assist in arranging repatriation to Ireland

However, the Embassy does not:

  • Give legal advice
  • Intervene in court proceedings
  • Investigate a crime
  • Pay legal costs

If You Require Urgent Medical Treatment

The Embassy can:

  • Offer general advice on the local medical services
  • Provide a list of local English-speaking doctors
  • Assist in liaising with doctors or hospitals
  • Arrange interpretation if necessary
  • Advise relatives or friends about accidents or illnesses
  • Assist in arranging repatriation to Ireland

However, the Embassy does not:

  • Pay medical or hospital bills
  • Provide medical advice
  • Pursue insurance companies about payment of or refund of the cost of medical treatment
  • Pursue claims for compensation relating to negligence, injury or any other matter
  • Pay for visits by relatives

If You Lose Your Passport

lf you lose your passport abroad you should immediately report the loss to the local police and then to the nearest Irish Embassy or Consulate.

Ask the Police for a written statement that you have reported the loss. You will require this to obtain a temporary passport from an Irish Mission.

In certain circumstances, for example when you are returning directly to Ireland, an Emergency Travel Document rather than a passport may be issued. Most Honorary Consuls do not issue passports and can only issue Emergency Travel Documents.

If You Have Been Arrested Or Imprisoned

One of the most important functions of Irish Embassies and Consulates is to ensure that the rights of Irish citizens who are arrested or imprisoned abroad are fully respected. If you are arrested, in many cases the local Authorities will only contact the Irish Embassy or Consulate if you specifically ask them to do so.

When the Embassy is informed of the arrest or imprisonment of an Irish citizen, they will respond immediately and provide all possible consular assistance.

The Embassy can:

  • Visit you or arrange for you to be visited by an Honorary Consul or by a representative of an Embassy or Consulate of one of our EU partners
  • If necessary, provide you with a list of local English-speaking lawyers
  • Advise you about the prison system and about your entitlement to visits, mail and other facilities
  • Bring details of any medical condition you may have to the attention of prison officials
  • Pursue with the prison authorities on your behalf complaints about ill-treatment or discrimination
  • Pass messages to and from your family

However, the Embassy does not:

  • Secure better treatment for Irish citizens than local or other nationals receive
  • Give nor pay for legal advice
  • Interfere with or influence the local judicial system
  • Provide any financial assistance while you are in prison

The Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas (ICPO) is a voluntary agency that provides assistance to Irish prisoners overseas and to their families in Ireland. The ICPO can be contacted at:

Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas
Columba Centre
St Patrick's College
County Kildare

Tel:  +353 1 505 3000
Fax:  +353 1 601 6401
Email: Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas

If You Require Assistance In Connection With A Death Abroad

If a member of your family dies while abroad, the Irish Embassy will provide all possible assistance in dealing with the formalities that arise in these situations.

The Embassy can:

  • Arrange to have the next of kin of the deceased informed by the Garda Síochána
  • Assist relatives to appoint a local undertaker
  • Assist with procuring documents such as death certificates or medical or police reports
  • Assist relatives to communicate with the Police and other Authorities

However, the Embassy does not:

  • Investigate the circumstances of the death
  • Pay expenses relating to local burial or cremation
  • Pay the cost of repatriating the remains
  • Pay for relatives to travel to where the death occurred or to accompany the remains to Ireland
  • Book flights

If You Need Help Accessing Funds

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Irish citizens travelling abroad sometimes experience financial difficulties. Such situations can usually be resolved easily and quickly by transferring money from Ireland through well-known commercial agencies. Advice about this is available from Irish Embassies and Consulates and from the  Consular Section of this Department.

If these channels are not available, the Irish Mission can contact your relatives or friends in Ireland to ask them to send you funds either directly or through the Department of Foreign Affairs. A statutory fee of €35 applies to a transfer of funds made through the Department.

The Department is unable, under any circumstances, to give loans or to pay any hotel or other expenses incurred by Irish citizens abroad.

If You Need To Be Repatriated To Ireland

In very exceptional circumstances, where the health or security of an Irish citizen abroad is at risk and there is no way of dealing with the situation satisfactorily locally, the Department of Foreign Affairs may agree to repatriate the person to Ireland. This will be done at the sole discretion of the Department and subject to strict conditions which will be set out clearly in each case. The conditions include a written undertaking to repay all the expenses incurred as well as a statutory fee of €35.

Natural Disaster/Crisis

Some major catastrophes involving Irish citizens abroad may need exceptional levels of response. It is not easy to define every possible circumstance, but these events may be the result of natural disasters or large-scale accidents, or of terrorism or conflict. No one set of responses will meet all circumstances.

If the Minister for Foreign Affairs considers an event to be a major catastrophe affecting significant numbers of people we can help, we will:

  • consider whether exceptional help should be provided from public funds; 
  • set up public helplines;
  • provide information if we have it, and if we believe it to be reliable, to people who have been affected and their family members who we are in contact with; and
  • consider sending appropriate extra staff to the country involved.

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