Diplomatic Service

Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 10th January 2012.

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Photo of Tessa Munt Tessa Munt Liberal Democrat, Wells

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what criteria his Department uses to determine what forms of consular service it provides in overseas countries; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Jeremy Browne Jeremy Browne The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Our consular services are described in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) publication “Support for British nationals abroad: A guide” which is available on the FCO website at:


We have four major areas of activity:

(i) We help British nationals who are in difficulty abroad in a range of situations including: victims of crime, hospitalisations, deaths, detentions, forced marriages, child abductions, missing people and kidnapping.

(ii) We respond to major crises affecting British nationals abroad.

(iii) We issue emergency travel documents and provide notarial and documentary services.

(iv) We also provide travel advice and other information in order for British nationals to avoid trouble and stay safe overseas.

We consulted widely in shaping our consular strategy for 2010-13—available on the FCO website at:


We commissioned research in order to improve our understanding of our customers, their requirements and how best to provide services to them.

We also take account of what British nationals, both travellers and residents; tell us about our services in response to our customer satisfaction survey or through complaints and compliments.

We listen to the feedback we receive from Members of Parliament, non-governmental organisations and others. As a result, our efforts are focused on providing the highest quality assistance to the most vulnerable people in the most difficult situations, working with partners if they are best placed to provide the service. For example, during 2011, we have enhanced the support provided to families bereaved by a murder or manslaughter abroad, working in partnership with the Victim Support National Homicide Service.

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