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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Safety Information for American Students Traveling Abroad

Media Note
Washington, DC
February 1, 2010


As spring and summer breaks approach, many students are getting ready for a trip abroad. The majority of students traveling abroad will have safe and enjoyable adventures. However, even with the best-planned trips, things can go wrong.

Each year, more than 2,500 American citizens are arrested abroad – about half on narcotics charges, including possession of very small amounts of illegal substances.

Being arrested is not the only thing that can go wrong on a foreign vacation. U.S. citizens have been badly injured or have been killed in automobile accidents, falls, and other mishaps. Many of these incidents are related to alcohol and/or drug use. Other have been sexually assaulted or robbed because they found themselves in unfamiliar locales, were incapable of protecting themselves because of drug or alcohol use, or were the victims of a “date rape” drug.

The most common cause of death of U.S. citizens overseas, other than natural causes, is by motor vehicle accidents. Students traveling abroad should be aware that standards of safety overseas might be different from those in the United States, or non-existent.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs website for American students traveling overseas,, provides useful safety and travel information for students prior to their travel. Students are strongly urged to review the information on the site and sign up online at to receive the latest travel information from the Department of State. Signing up makes it possible for the State Department to contact the student traveler, if necessary, in case of a family emergency in the United States or because of a crisis in the foreign country.

Please see the Department of Homeland Security’s web site for more information on the requirements for a passport, passport card, or other approved document to reenter the United States after travel abroad.

For further information contact:
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Policy Coordination and Public Affairs
Press inquiries: (202) 647-1488
Public inquiries: toll-free (888) 407-4747

Internet address:;

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PRN: 2010/125

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