Arrest and Detention Abroad

All University travelers are expected to obey all the laws of the countries they visit. Those who break these laws may face severe penalties, including jail sentences.

Tips to Avoid Arrest Overseas:

  • Understand that you are subject to the local laws and regulations while visiting in the country – follow them.
  • Learn which laws might be different from the laws in the United States. The U.S. Department of State provides some information for each country on their Country Information pages. For more information on a specific country’s laws, contact that country’s nearest embassy or consulate in the United States before you travel.

First steps:

If you get into legal trouble, you (or a companion) should immediately contact your program director, trip leader, or on-site staff (if applicable).

Reach out to the closest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad should also be notified.

  • From the U.S. & Canada: (888) 407-4747
  • From Abroad: (202) 501-4444

A U.S. Consular Officer can:

  • Visit you in jail.
  • Give you a list of local attorneys.
  • Notify your family or friends and relay requests for money or other aid with your authorization.
  • Intercede with the local authorities to ensure that you are treated humanely and ensure that your rights under local law are fully observed.

A U.S. Consular Officer cannot:

  • Get you out of jail.
  • Represent you at trial or give you legal counsel.
  • Pay fees or fines with U.S. government funds.

U.S. embassy personnel can:

  • Provide routine citizenship services and emergency assistance for American citizens abroad.
  • Assist Americans abroad and their families in cases of death, serious medical emergencies, and legal difficulties.

Read more about Arrest or Detention Abroad on the U.S. Department of State’s website.