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How Australians Are Getting Into Trouble Overseas (And What To Do If It Happens To You)

22 March 2018

Lost passports, hospitalisations and arrests are just some of the ways Aussies are getting into difficulty overseas. Here’s what to do if it happens to you.

You’ve probably seen the stereotype in action; the drunken Aussie in thongs and a singlet, boisterously haggling in a market in Bali.
The Aussie tourist to some is the punch-line of a joke, and in many cases the larrikin behaviour Aussies are known for is usually harmless. The number of Australians travelling overseas is growing by around five per cent each year, with Aussies taking 10,756,890 trips in the 2016-2017 financial year.

And some of those people find themselves in trouble. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 12,454 Australians overseas were provided with assistance by embassies, consulates, high commissions or similar. That’s a little more than one in every 1000 Australians needing help overseas.

So where are Aussies finding themselves in trouble? And what kind of trouble are they finding themselves in?
In the 2016-2017 financial year, Australia’s Consular Emergency Centre responded to over 66 thousand calls for help. Australians were given consular assistances from 187 locations across 134 countries. Thailand, the USA and Indonesia all had an increase in the number of people seeking assistance. 893 cases of assistance occurred in Thailand, 855 in the USA and 717 in Indonesia.
Here’s some of the ways Australians are getting into difficulty overseas…


In 2016-2017, 1701 Australian sought help when they were hospitalised overseas. The amount of Aussies being hospitalised overseas has increased by 24 per cent in the past five years and most of these cases occurred in Thailand. The top five places Aussies are hospitalised overseas are Thailand (195 cases), Indonesia (155 cases), USA (117 cases), New Caledonia (103 cases) and Vietnam (71 cases).


Always check the Smartraveller website before you go overseas to make sure you are prepared.
Ensure your vaccinations are up to date for the destinations you are visiting. If you have a pre-existing medical condition you should speak with your doctor to make sure you are prepared for your trip and make sure you understand how your condition may impact your travel insurance coverage. If you need to take medications with you overseas you should ensure they are legal in the country you are travelling to and make sure you travel with medicines in their original packaging.

If you require medical attention overseas you should first go to a local doctor or hospital, or ask your hotel or tour guide for help in arranging medical attention. If you need consular assistance, contact the nearest Australian embassy or mission, though staff cannot give medical assistance, medicine or pay for medical treatment. Of course if you’re travelling with travel insurance, a call to your insurer’s emergency call centre should be made as soon as you can, remembering to provide your policy number.


The number of Aussies with passports grows every year. In the last financial year, over 2 million passports were issued. This brought the total number of Australians with valid passports at the end of the financial year to 13,864,033, or 56 per cent of Australians. 2,454 passports were reported missing last financial year and 2,108 Australian passports were reported stolen.


Whether you lose your passport at home or overseas it is important to report it missing straight away. You can go online to report it and your passport will be cancelled.

If a passport gets into the wrong hands criminals can use it to travel illegally or to carry out criminal activities in your name.
If you need to replace a passport overseas, you should contact the nearest Australian mission. You may be provided with an emergency passport for the remainder of your travels.

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Last financial year, there were 1641 cases of Australians being arrested or detained whilst overseas. That’s up six per cent from the previous financial year. 404 of these cases were immigration detention, when Australians are denied entry to a country or breached their visa conditions.
The highest number of cases of arrest or detention were in the United States (285 cases), The United Arab Emirates (104 cases) and China (101 cases).

The USA had the highest number of arrests of Australians on drug related charges (16 active cases), followed by Thailand and the UAE (13 active cases) and the Philippines (12 active cases).


The Australian government advises that Australians should never carry or consume illegal drugs overseas. Penalties for drug related offenses overseas can be strict and can include life imprisonment or the death penalty. Prison environments may also be much harsher than in Australia.
You should always be aware of what’s in your bag, especially if you are crossing international borders. You should never carry anything for someone else whilst travelling.

If you are arrested overseas, you should call the nearest Australian mission or phone the Consular Emergency Centre. Consular officials may be able to help you with local lawyers, visits to prison to check welfare, liaise with local authorities and communicate with family members.

However, the Australian government won’t be able to get you out of prison or detention, or stop you from being deported. So stay sensible overseas.
Although you may be faced with challenges in your travels, there is help available if you need it. Check out smartraveller for helpful information, whether you’re preparing for a trip or already overseas.

Emergency consular assistance is available 24 hours a day through the Consular Emergency Centre. Contact 1300 555 135 from within Australia or +61 2 6261 3305 from anywhere in the world.

Content Credits: Skyscanner

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