Crisis or emergency overseas
In the event of a natural disaster or other crisis in or near your location, you need to take urgent steps to stay safe.
This page provides general advice that applies to most crises and emergencies overseas. It covers the basics of:
Read this page in conjunction with our pages specific to each type of crisis and our Consular Services Charter.
What to do during a crisis
- Stay safe. Take immediate action to stay safe. If you're already safe where you are, don't go out or travel until you know the threat has passed.
- Get medical care. If you're injured, seek medical assistance. Understand that local emergency services may be stretched during a crisis. Don't expert priority services because you're an Australian.
- Contact your loved ones. Tell family and friends where and how you are. As soon as possible. If they've heard about the crisis from the news, they'll fear for your safety.
- Contact us if you need help. In a crisis we will initiate a crisis response. This can include making the crisis contact form available on Smartraveller and publicising the Consular Emergency Centre phone number. Only contact us if you need urgent help or you have serious concerns for family or friends.
- Follow instructions from local authorities. Unless we tell you otherwise, do what you're told by the local first responders. They're the authority in your location.
- Stay up to date. Follow the news and social media for developments as they unfold. Subscribe to updates for your destination's travel advisory.
Advice for different types of crisis
See our information about what to do for specific types of crises and emergencies.
- Hurricane or cyclones
- Demonstration or civil unrest
- Terrorist situation
- Volcanic eruption
Where to get help
If there's a crisis in or near your location, you have help options in your destination and from back home.
Seek help from local authorities first. Emergency services in most destinations have processes in place for crisis situations. See 'local contacts' in the travel advisory for your destination.
Family and friends
Reach out to your family and friends and ask for help. Especially if you need money. Or if you need someone to help coordinate flights out.
Contact your travel insurer. If you can't find their emergency number, look them up on Find an Insurer (Insurance Council of Australia).
The Australian Government
In some circumstances, consular officials may be able to help. However, there are limits.
If we declare a crisis, we may help through a formal crisis response. If we haven't, we may assist through the nearest embassy or consulate, or the 24-hour consular emergency centre.
How the Australian Government can help
The Australian Government may be able to help. However, we're limited how and when we can support for Australians overseas.
In many situations, you'll need to seek help from local authorities, your family, friends and travel insurer.
For emergency assistance, phone the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 from anywhere in the world.
It's important you understand our limits, including in a crisis. Read the Consular Services Charter.
What we can do
- We can choose to initiate a crisis response and we know Australians are, or could be, affected.
- We can provide emergency consular support.
- We can give you a list of local hospitals with doctors who speak English if you need medical assistance.
- We can contact your relatives or friends, with your consent.
What we can't do
- We can't guarantee your safety and security in another country, or provide you with personal security services.
- We can't give you legal or medical advice.
- We can't make decisions for you, or make you leave a country.
- We can't make your travel arrangements.
- We can't force local authorities to act.
We activate a crisis response only if:
- we learn there is, or has been, a crisis or national emergency overseas
- our consular officials and intelligence community has confirmed the event
- Australian citizens are in the area are (or could be) impacted by the event
Learn more about crisis response.
- What to do if there's a natural disaster. See advice for an earthquake, volcanic eruption or severe weather incident.
- What to do if there's a demonstration or terrorist situation nearby.
- Learn more about the Consular Emergency Centre (CEC) and crisis response.
- Know how and when we can help. Read the Consular Services Charter.
- For help, contact your nearest Australian embassy or consulate (DFAT).
- Look up your travel insurer's emergency helpline on Find an Insurer (Insurance council of Australia).
- See more about listed terrorist organisations (National Security, Australian Government).
Crises that affect a large number of Australians overseas usually require a response beyond our normal consular services.
Terrorism remains a threat to Australians living and travelling overseas. Before you travel overseas, it's important to understand the risk of terrorism worldwide.