Thursday, 10 November 2011



Recent enquiries received by Foreign Office staff in Spain include a request for Phil Collins’ telephone number, whilst a man asked staff to contact his dominatrix after she had left him stranded at the airport.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is today reminding British travellers of the role of its global network of Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates as staff continue to be approached for weather forecasts and ticket bookings.

Other enquiries received by Foreign Office staff include:

  • A man rang the Consulate in Sydney to find out what clothes he should pack for his holiday
  • A Brit in Sofia asked the Consulate if they could sell his house for him
  • A man called the Consulate in Florida to report that there were ants in his holiday villa and asked for advice on what he should do 
    • A lady complained to the Embassy in Moscow about a loud buzzing noise in her apartment – she wanted someone to visit her flat and advise the authorities to stop the noise
    • A caller in Spain wondered what shoe size Prince Charles wears so they could send him a pair of shoes as a present
    • A man asked a Consulate in Greece for information on how to go about putting a chicken coop in his garden
    • A man asked Consular staff in Dubai to meet his dog on arrival at customs and help the dog through the customs process, as he would be on holiday when the dog arrived 
      • A caller asked staff in Malaga in mid-September where she could get a Christmas lunch as everywhere she had phoned was already booked up
      • Staff in Greece were asked for tips on the best fishing spots and where to purchase good bait


The FCO can:

  • Issue you with replacement travel documents
  • Provide information about transferring money
  • Provide help if you have suffered rape or serious sexual or physical assault, are a victim of crime, are ill or in hospital
  • Give you a list of local lawyers, interpreters, doctors or funeral directors
  • Contact you if you are detained abroad
  • Contact friends and family back home for you if you wish
  • Provide help in cases of forced marriage
  • Assist people affected by parental child abduction


The FCO can’t:

  • Help you enter a country if you don’t have a valid passport or necessary visas
  • Give you legal advice or translate documents
  • Investigate crimes or get you out of prison
  • Get you better treatment in hospital or prison than is given to local people
  • Pay any bills or give you money
  • Make travel arrangements for you


For insight into the range of Consular incidents across the globe over a real 24 hour period visit:

  1. Enquiries are based on anecdotal evidence from Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff around the world
  2. FCO staff handle around 2 million Consular enquiries a year
  3. In 2010/11 FCO staff handled 19,228 Consular assistance cases (including arrests, deaths, hospitalisations, supporting victims of forced marriage and assisting in incidents of parental child abduction)
    1. Before you travel, visit and make a note of the number of the nearest British Consulate to where you are staying, so you can ask for help if you need it. A directory of British Embassies, High Commissions or Consulates is available at:
  4. For up-to-the-minute travel advice sign up to Facebook and Twitter feeds: or


Embassy, High Commission or Consulate?

FCO offices abroad are known by a variety of names:

  • In Commonwealth countries they are called High Commissions and are located in the capital city
  • In other countries they are called Embassies and are located in the capital city
  • Consulates are smaller offices in capital cities or regional centres and offer assistance to British nationals
  • Honorary Consulates are smaller versions of Consulates in smaller cities and towns
  • Mission or delegation is the name usually given to an FCO office attached to organisations like the UN or NATO

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