At your request, consular services can:

• Gather information about your case and urge authorities to process without undue delay.

• Provide a list of local lawyers who have expertise in your type of case, speak your language and have represented Canadians in the past.

• Provide you with information about Legal Aid in the country detaining you if you cannot afford a lawyer.

• Facilitate communications between you and your lawyer.

• Contact your family or friends to ask them to send you money and or let them know how they can help you.

• Arrange for the purchase of necessary food, essential clothing, medical treatment and other items or services not available through the prison system at your expense and if permitted.

• Provide you with general information about the country detaining you and its justice system and take steps to ensure that you receive equitable treatment are not penalized for being a foreigner.

• Deliver mail and provide permitted reading material of postal services are unavailable.

• Convey messages to you if postal or telephone services are unavailable. Attempt to locate any missing personal property.

What consular services will not do:

Consular assistance will not provide legal service, post bail, pay fines or legal fees, or recommend a specific lawyer.

Dual citizenship

Consular services are not provided to landed immigrants or other persons legally residing in Canada with Canadian citizenship. These people must obtain consular services from their country of citizenship.


Problems may also arise for Canadian citizens with dual citizenship as not all countries recognize dual citizenship as Canada does. If you are arrested or detained in your country of second citizenship, your Canadian citizenship may not be recognized and you may not be given access to Canadian consular officials. This is particularly so if you enter using travel documents or a passport issued by that second country or by some third country.

An example of how this could happen – the visa entry fee for Canadians into Chile is $150.00 but zero for Italians. If a person had both Canadian and Italian passports, she might use the Italian one. If problems resulted later, she’d have to contact the Italian embassy, not the Canadian.

To increase the likelihood that you’ll be regarded as a Canadian and entitled to Canadian consular services you should use your Canadian passport when entering any country, even if it is the country of your second citizenship. Obtain a visa for entry to the country if it is required for Canadian citizens and always present yourself as a Canadian citizen to local authorities.

If you are arrested or detained while in a foreign country, you are entitled to urgent assistance from the Canadian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate responsible for that country. You can obtain such services by calling direct from abroad to the Consular Affairs Bureau in Ottawa at 1-613 -996-8885. These calls are free and services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you are in the United States, call 1-800267-6788.

FA TIP: You should make every effort to obtain access to consular services and a lawyer before making any statement to foreign authorities.

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