The information below is provided for general information only and may not be totally applicable in a particular case. Questions involving interpretation of specific U.S. or Foreign laws should be addressed to appropriate legal counsel.
The Office of Overseas Citizens Services in the U.S. Department of State, (888) 407-4747 (or from overseas +1 (202) 501-4444) can assist U.S. citizens who are temporarily destitute abroad because of an unanticipated emergency.
If you find yourself in this situation, here are some options:
U.S. citizens in need of emergency financial assistance while abroad should first attempt to contact their family, friends, banking institution, or employer in the United States, or in their place of residence abroad, for financial help. The American Citizen Services unit in the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Bamako can assist in this effort. Click here to contact the Consular Section. For more information on how to send money abroad, please visit the Department of State’s webpage on Sending Money to a U.S. Citizen Overseas.
Wiring Money Directly
You, or your family, friends, or associates, may wire money directly to a U.S. citizen abroad by contacting a commercial money transfer services with offices overseas. There are money transfer cost comparison tools online to help you identify your best option. The person receiving the money will need to present proof of identity, such as a passport. Be wary of international financial scams!
A destitute U.S. citizen abroad who has depleted his/her bank account or reached an overdraft limit can arrange for friends or family to deposit additional funds in his/her account. This option allows the traveler to use an ATM card to access the replenished account quickly.
Your Credit Card Company
Your credit card company may be able to increase your credit limit temporarily. Report a lost/stolen credit card immediately to your credit card company. Your credit card company may be able to send you a new card using an express delivery service. Your credit card company may also be able to verify your credit card account directly to your hotel, airline, doctor, or hospital to enable you to check out of your hotel, obtain replacement airline tickets, or receive other emergency services. A person receiving funds and/or a new credit card may need to present proof of identity such as a passport. Inquire about the benefits your credit card company provides you overseas before you travel abroad.
Bank to Bank Transfers
It may be possible to transfer money directly from a bank in the United States to a bank in the foreign country where the U.S. citizen can receive the funds. Some foreign banks require that the U.S. citizen establish a foreign bank account to use this option. Bank to bank transfers can take several days to accomplish.
Sending Money Through the U.S. Department of State
When commercial options are not available, or their use is not feasible due to the circumstance of the emergency, family or friends may send funds to the Department of State for delivery to a destitute U.S. citizen abroad through the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. See Sending Money Overseas to a U.S. Citizen. The Department of State assesses a $30.00 fee to establish an account and transfer funds. For additional information, contact the U.S. Department of State, Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management, at (888) 407-4747.