The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has released its annual list of inappropriate requests from UK citizens visiting or living overseas. And it’s fair to say that many expats and holidaymakers are failing to understand the proper role of the Government department.
“The FCO publishes an account of its more ridiculous requests in a bid to help people understand what it is really there for,” says HCR managing director Rob Dolbear.
“Many who travel abroad make detailed plans and preparations to make sure they know what to expect and are ready for all eventualities. And some employ the services of relocation specialists like HCR because they know we understand what it takes to enjoy a successful move to a foreign land.
“Wherever in the world they happen to be, our agents are ready to step in with help and support, no matter how big or small the challenge might be.
“But there are others who believe the UK Government will save the day and dig them out of any predicaments they happen to find themselves in.”
The FCO’s lists includes a request from a British lady in Lebanon who needed help recruiting an English butler. Another expat wanted to know where he could get his hands on some English bacon whilst overseas.
“Everybody understands how incredibly important the FCO is as an international resource, standing by to help its citizens whenever genuine emergencies arise,” adds Rob. “But the key word really is ‘emergencies’. Nobody should be calling in the cavalry unless they really are in a spot of bother.
“Calling the FCO because you’re disappointed the British Embassy in Russia didn’t send someone to meet you on arrival to St Petersburg for a grand tour, certainly doesn’t come under that heading.
“And neither does asking consular staff to help you find illegal employment in Singapore – or calling to say you’re worried you might encounter nudists walking through the streets of Spain.
“Visiting or relocating to another country abroad is an exciting challenge. But to really enjoy foreign delights and cultures, it’s best to do your homework, so you know what to expect.
“Of course, no matter how much you’ve prepared yourself in advance, there are times when the unexpected will occur. That’s when it’s time to call in the experts – whether they be your holiday reps, relocation advisers or – indeed – the FCO.”
Latest figures show almost half a million calls were made to the FCO’s consular service last year. Many were genuine – including 3,250 from Brits in hospitals abroad, 4,770 who were arrested and 3,670 from families of those who had died whilst overseas.