Travel Assistance 101: How to Prepare for an Unexpected Legal Crisis Abroad

When traveling in a foreign country, you’re also subject to its laws and regulations — so it’s important to be prepared just in case you find yourself in an unexpected legal snafu while traveling overseas. Read on to learn how.

1) Understand Your Destination: First and foremost, make sure to gather as much information as possible about your destination so you can make more informed choices while overseas. Pay careful and close attention to criminal penalties as you may learn some interesting facts. Be particularly cognizant of unfamiliar practices, the current political environment, and other risks that could potentially lead to legal problems. What is considered a minor offense (or perfectly legal) in some places could snowball into a very serious situation with harsh penalties in others.

Some unexpected examples of this could include public displays of affection, certain hand gestures, or even packing certain materials from an area of interest. Legal drinking ages also vary from country to country, and some areas permit alcohol use only for medicinal purposes.

2) Keep Visas in Mind: You may think that all you need for a successful trip besides a fully stocked suitcase is a valid passport, but that may not be the case. A visa is an official document that allows the bearer to legally enter a foreign country. Obtaining the proper visa(s) for your destination(s) of interest is not only necessary to enter certain countries, but can also avoid additional legal hardships/complexities in an already challenging situation.

To apply for a visa, you’ll need to find the official government immigration website of the country you intend to visit. Once you’ve found and read all the available information, including the visa application requirements, fill out the required travel visa application form. You may be able to send in the form electronically or you may be required to send it by mail. Important to note that it’s important to investigate visa requirements as soon as possible before your trip as some countries require in-person visits to reginal consulates to be granted a visa.

Pro tip: On Call not only can advise if the destination you’re traveling to requires a visa, but can also help members navigate the visa application process prior to their trip.

3) Make Those Phone Calls Count: The good news is that legal problems in a foreign country can be significantly lessened if you know who to call during an emergency. Before leaving for your trip, find out where your home country’s consulate is located in the country you’re planning to visit and keep their contact information with you at all times. For U.S. travelers, keep in mind the Embassy can provide you with a list of lawyers, but they don’t directly provide travelers with legal assistance and advice.

That’s why it’s so important to have an emergency assistance resource like On Call at your immediate disposal. For example, travelers enrolled in On Call’s services get access to 24/7 worldwide legal assistance services, anywhere in the world. This service consists of an initial consultation with an On Call attorney, where we offer legal advice and guidance to the traveler in need. This advice and guidance could include a subsequent referral to a local attorney and counsel, if necessary.* Our travelers also have access to language translation services, which could also come in handy during a legal situation (for instance, if you need help communicating with local authorities if they don’t speak English).

Legal assistance resources are an invaluable—and critical—component to planning a safe and successful trip overseas.

Want to learn more?
For over 25 years, On Call International has provided fully-customized travel risk management and global emergency assistance services protecting millions of travelers, their families, and their organizations. Visit us at and contact us today to learn more.

*Fees for the local attorney are the traveler’s responsibility.