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British Nationals Abroad: Death

Question for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

UIN 147010, tabled on 1 February 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what his Department's role is in relation to UK nationals and their families when those nationals die under non-suspicious circumstances while outside of the UK.

Answered on

9 February 2021

Our consular staff endeavour to give appropriate and tailored support to British nationals overseas and their families in the UK, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. What we can and cannot do is set out in Support for British nationals abroad: A guide, available on GOV.UK ( We help around 30,000 British nationals abroad every year. Cases range from supporting those who have been victims of crimes or had accidents while in another country, through to complex, long-running consular cases such as people detained overseas, injured or who have been killed in suspicious and non-suspicious circumstances. The UK is a party to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR), which is a multilateral agreement setting out how States will cooperate in the support of their nationals in distress overseas including for example notifying individuals of their right to have their consulate notified of their arrest, and then granting access to detained nationals. The Government's ability to provide consular assistance remains at all times dependent on other states respecting the VCCR and must be done in accordance with the laws of that country.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) provide tailored support to families bereaved overseas, including providing basic information on local police and judicial procedures. Since 2015, a dedicated team have provided support to families bereaved through homicide abroad. Where there is a suspicion on the cause of death, but it is not being investigated as a homicide, the FCDO can suggest the best way to raise concerns with the relevant authorities overseas. In some circumstances the FCDO can register an interest in a case and, for eligible families, make a referral to the Victim Support Homicide Service. To support British nationals detained overseas and their families, the FCDO works closely with the NGOs Prisoners Abroad, the Death Penalty Project and Reprieve.