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Consular protection

EU citizens' right to diplomatic and consular protection outside the EU, the development of EU consular protection and the applicable EU rules.

Cover of the factsheet on consular protection
General publications24 June 2022
Consular Protection for EU citizens
  • Консулска закрила за гражданите на ЕС
    (164.42 KB - PDF)
  • Protección consular para los ciudadanos de la UE
    (5.97 MB - PDF)
  • Konzulární ochrana pro občany EU
    (5.97 MB - PDF)
  • Konsulær beskyttelse for EU-borgere
    (5.97 MB - PDF)
  • Konsularischer Schutz für EU-Bürgerinnen und Bürger
    (5.97 MB - PDF)
  • Konsulaarkaitse ELi kodanikele
    (172.03 KB - PDF)
  • Προξενική προστασία των πολιτών της ΕΕ
    (164.07 KB - PDF)
  • Protection consulaire des citoyens de l’UE
    (5.94 MB - PDF)
  • Konzularna zaštita za građane EU-a
    (173.12 KB - PDF)
  • Protezione consolare per cittadini e cittadine dell’UE
    (6.01 MB - PDF)
  • ES pilsoņu konsulārā aizsardzība
    (158.98 KB - PDF)
  • Konsulinė apsauga ES piliečiams
    (159.68 KB - PDF)
  • Konzuli védelem uniós polgárok számára
    (174.48 KB - PDF)
  • Consulaire bescherming voor EU-burgers
    (5.97 MB - PDF)
  • Ochrona konsularna obywateli UE
    (5.97 MB - PDF)
  • Proteção consular para cidadãos da UE
    (163.25 KB - PDF)
  • Protecția consulară pentru cetățenii UE
    (159.2 KB - PDF)
  • Konzulárna ochrana pre občanov EÚ
    (176.04 KB - PDF)
  • Konzularna zaščita za državljane EU
    (172.44 KB - PDF)
  • EU-kansalaisten konsulisuoja
    (171.28 KB - PDF)
  • Konsulärt skydd för EU-medborgare
    (172.89 KB - PDF)

Consular protection outside the EU

An EU citizen is unrepresented if there is no embassy or consulate from his or her own Member State present in the country. An EU citizen can also be unrepresented if the embassy or consulate established locally is unable for any reason to provide consular protection, for example because it is far away from where the EU citizen is located.

Check this EU website to find whether your own country has an embassy or a consulate in the country where you are travelling. If your country is not represented, the website provides the contact details of embassies and consulates of other EU Member States that you might wish to contact to seek assistance. 

The help that may be provided by embassies/consulates of (other) EU Member States include assistance in cases of:

  • Lost or stolen passport or ID card: the embassy can issue emergency travel documents – single-journey documents intended to allow you to return home. 
  • Arrest or detention: once contacted, the embassy may provide information on the local legal system, or help you find a lawyer.
  • Being victim of a crime: someone from the embassy may assist you and advise on the next steps. 
  • Serious accident or illness: staff may help contact your insurance company, family, or friends for you if you end up in hospital.
  • Relief and repatriation in case of an emergency: the embassy may be able to help be evacuated, for example in case of a conflict, a natural disaster or civil unrest.
  • Death: Staff may help notify next of kin and help you register a death. 

When unrepresented EU citizens seek help from the embassy or consulate of another EU Member State, they must prove their identity by showing a passport or identity card. If their documents have been stolen or lost, their nationality can be proven by other means, including by verification with the authorities of their EU Member State of nationality.

Unrepresented citizen should be duly taken into account and fully assisted in crisis situations, where a clear division of responsibilities and coordination are of paramount importance. The Consular Crisis Management Division of the European External Action Service assists in coordinating action in times of crisis.

For more information, visit the website on consular protection for EU citizens abroad. To see whether your Member State has an embassy or consulate in the country where you are, visit the section Find an embassy/consulate. To find out more on how the EU Member States work together on consular issues, visit the Council’s website on consular protection.

Development of EU consular protection

The right to consular protection for unrepresented EU citizens is set out in Articles 20(2)c and 23 of the EU Treaty and Article 46 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The Commission adopted a proposal to amend the Consular Protection Directive 2015/637 on consular protection for unrepresented European citizens living or travelling outside the EU.

The proposal  which will strengthen the right of EU citizens to consular protection, especially in crisis situations, draws on recent experiences, including the consular impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, and the repatriation of EU citizens from Afghanistan and Sudan.

The Directive makes cooperation between consular authorities easier and strengthens EU citizens' right to consular protection. This is particularly important in crisis situations (for example in the case of a natural disaster or armed conflict). Member States represented in a non-EU country should coordinate contingency plans among themselves and with the EU Delegation to ensure that unrepresented citizens are fully assisted in the event of a crisis.

In parallel, the Commission continues to include and negotiate consent clauses in bilateral agreements with third countries to ensure that these countries agree that represented EU Member States give assistance to unrepresented EU citizens.

In September 2022, the Commission published a report on the on the implementation and application of the Consular Protection Directive.

EU Emergency Travel Document

A special form of consular assistance is the issuance of emergency travel documents, for example in case of loss or theft of a passport. In 1996, EU Member States agreed on a common format for an EU Emergency Travel Document to provide help to EU citizens without a travel document abroad in a country in which their own Member State has no embassy or consulate.

In June 2019, the Council adopted a Directive on an EU emergency travel document. The Directive updates the rules, format and security features of the Emergency Travel Document. It simplifies the formalities for unrepresented EU citizens in third countries whose passport or travel document has been lost, stolen or destroyed, to ensure that they are provided with an emergency travel document by another member state, to enable them to travel home.

On 8 December 2022, the Commission adopted the necessary technical details of the EU Emergency Travel Document. It will be available to citizens as of December 2025 and will consist of a sticker and a passport-size booklet which will look like this:

EU Emergency Travel Document sticker
EU Emergency Travel Document sticker
EU Emergency Travel Document form (front)
EU Emergency Travel Document form (front)
EU Emergency Travel Document form (back)
EU Emergency Travel Document form (back)


12 DECEMBER 2022
EU Emergency Travel Document technical specifications
12 DECEMBER 2022
Annex to the EU Emergency Travel Document technical specifications
Consular Protection Directive Implementation Report