Emergency Assistance While Abroad

Preparing for an Emergency Abroad

Steps to Prepare for a Possible Emergency Abroad

1)    Complete or Review an Emergency Card. Access this Emergency Contact Card Template to keep track of your emergency information while abroad. Before you leave, download it in MS Word or Adobe PDF format. Edit the document to include important phone numbers, print it out, and carry it with you at all times. You should also save it and store it as a .pdf on your phone for easy access. If you are attending an Education Abroad group program, your program coordinator will create a similar card for you and hand it out prior to your departure.

    1. If you are in an emergency situation abroad, you will need to know how to contact the police, an ambulance, or even the fire department. Not every country uses “911” as its emergency contact number, as we do in the United States. You can look up the “911 equivalent” number for your destination here.
    2. Identify is the closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. They can help with identifying medical facilities or helping you navigate the legal system. You can determine that number by visiting the U.S. Department of State Country Information Sheet relevant to your destination.
    3. You should always identify hospitals or clinics that will be convenient to you prior to departure. You can find out by contacting our insurance carrier, International SoS through their Assistance app or contact information below.

2)    Print and Carry a Copy of Your ISoS Enrollment Card. You will have an enrollment ID card similar to the one below with information about how to access the services provided by ISoS. Refer to the Insurance Information section of this site for more information regarding ISoS policies and resources. 

front of ISoS membership card


back of ISoS membership card


3)    Download, Set-Up Apps, and Save Important Numbers to Your Cell Phone.

    1. Save phone numbers from your Emergency Contact Card to your cell phone.
    2. Download and set up the ISoS Assistance app.

4)    Learn How to Call When Abroad. USF strongly recommends that you always travel with a cell phone that can make and receive international calls using a cell network, independently of WiFi. Yes, you will likely use WiFi for the majority of your data needs. There are many convenient apps out there to facilitate communication over WiFi without incurring expensive charges.

However, an emergency rarely waits until you have WiFi. The ability to make or receive a phone call outside of available WiFi can make a huge difference in your experience. Before you leave, contact your U.S.-based cell phone company and ask about ways you can either turn on global calling or unlock your phone to accept a foreign SIM card. In an extreme case, consider purchasing a local disposable phone and adding international minutes for use in an emergency.

How to Make a Long Distance International Call

If you are using your U.S.-based cell phone with the U.S. cell phone number, remember that when abroad, calling the U.S. is the same as a local call – except the charges will still be at international rates. It also means that calling an international number will be like calling from the U.S.

Generally, when calling the United States from an international (land-based) number, you need to dial the U.S. country code “00” followed by “1” for long distance, then the area code and number. 

A good website to explain how to make an international call from anywhere in the world is www.howtocallabroad.com/. Share this site with your family and friends.

Always test your phone immediately when in-country. Call someone in the U.S., and then have them call you back. It is always easier to identify a problem with your cell when there is no crisis. It is never helpful to learn there is a problem with your cell when you really have to use it!

When Will USF Try and Call You?

USF World Travel, Safety, and Health may choose to call you. We monitor world events, and if it appears that a natural disaster, civil unrest, or other activity may impact you or your program, we may try to reach out to you by email and/or phone. Always monitor your official USF email while abroad. This is our only official way to communicate with you. Please also alwas keep your cell phone charged and turned on to receive international calls.

We may also choose to contact your emergency contacts about a situation, in situations when we cannot reach you, or when you cannot communicate for yourself. We only do this after consultation with the relevant departments following U.S. law, and this is always done with discretion.

Specific instances when this may occur include:

  • You are unable to speak for yourself;
  • You are not where you are supposed to be and considered missing (USF does not need to wait 24 hours);
  • You are perceived to be a danger to yourself or others; or when
  • There is a significant health, safety, or security incident affecting the entire program such as a natural disaster or civil unrest.