Major incidents that affect a large number of Australians overseas usually require a response beyond our normal consular services.
What is a crisis?
It can be hard to define whether an event is a crisis because it often depends on a range of factors.
The Australian Government decides if a major overseas incident is a crisis event for Australia.
If the Government decides a crisis response is warranted, extra assistance may be organised for affected Australians. We may launch a crisis response if:
- large numbers of Australians have been killed or injured or are in immediate danger, examples include terrorist attacks, major accidents and natural disasters
- political unrest leads us to advise Australians to leave the country and there are no commercial options to do so
- an event causes major disruption and hardship to large numbers of Australians
Serious incidents affecting Australians overseas which we don’t define as crises are managed as consular cases.
How we can help in a crisis
Many considerations guide what help we can provide Australians and their families affected by a crisis overseas.
At a minimum, we will liaise with local authorities in the crisis location and the government of the country where this crisis has happened. We will also work with travel operators, travel insurers and other governments to try to help affected Australians.
Exactly what we will do depends on what has happened. In a crisis we can:
- deploy expert teams to support affected Australians
- liaise with the families of any Australians who are killed or injured
- work with local authorities to support affected Australians
- support Australians trying to leave the area and put them in contact with their families
- provide crisis updates through Smartraveller
- advise of options to leave a dangerous area
- arrange an evacuation, in exceptional circumstances
Failing to follow our travel advice may restrict the help we can provide to you.
Take sensible precautions, read and follow our travel advice and take responsibility for your own safety. This applies particularly if you're travelling to or living in a location with a high risk of terrorism, unrest or natural disasters.
We’ll try to help, but even in a crisis situation what we can do may be limited by safety, resources and other factors.
Who we can assist
- All Australian citizens.
- Canadian citizens in locations specified in the Australia-Canada Consular Sharing Agreement.
We can sometimes help permanent residents of Australia in an overseas crisis. This help is an exception as permanent residents are not entitled to consular assistance. We will assist permanent residents in a crisis only if help is already being provided to Australian citizens.
If you're a dual national, we will be able to assist you in your country of other nationality only in exceptional circumstances.
What to do if you’re in a crisis overseas
- Contact your family and friends. Let them know your welfare and whereabouts.
- Check Smartraveller for updates to travel advisories.
- Subscribe to email alerts and follow us on social media.
- Decide if you'll leave the country. If you stay, take sensible precautions.
- If you decide to stay, we may not be able to help you leave later.
- Follow the advice of the local authorities, unless our travel advice advises not to.
- Avoid all crowds, demonstrations or large gatherings.
- Get in touch with your airline, tour operator and travel insurer.
- If you’re staying in a hotel, identify the emergency procedures in place.
When to contact us?
- If you’re in a crisis location but are safe, let your family and friends know.
- Ask your family to advise others who will be concerned about you.
- If you need urgent medical help, use the local emergency numbers on the travel advisory page of the country you’re in to call for help.
- If you need our help call our Consular Emergency Centre (CEC):
- 1300 555 135 (from within Australia)
- +61 2 6261 3305 (from anywhere in the world)
- SMS +61 421 269 080
- You can also call the nearest Australian Embassy or consulate. Find the number in the country travel advisory page.
- You don't need to register before you go, however you should subscribe for updates
- Find out what to do if there has been an earthquake, tsunami or volcanic eruption.
- See our advice on what to do during a severe weather incident, such as a hurricane or cyclone.
- Read the Consular Services Charter to understand how and when we can help in a crisis.
A disaster can happen anywhere, anytime. However, some destinations experience certain types of natural disasters more often.
In the event of a natural disaster or other crisis in or near your location, you may require assistance. Read this page to see where to get help.