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Arrest of a U.S. Citizen

Arrest of a U.S. Citizen in the UK

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the same protections available to the individual under U.S. law.  Persons violating the law in a foreign country, even unknowingly, may be expelled, fined, arrested, or imprisoned.  If arrested abroad, a citizen must go through the foreign legal process for being charged or indicted, prosecuted, and possibly convicted and sentenced.  Within this framework, U.S. consular officers provide a wide variety of services to U.S. citizens arrested abroad and their families.

The UK is a sovereign nation and its laws apply to everyone who enters regardless of nationality.  The U.S. government cannot get U.S. citizens released from a UK jail.  However, a U.S. Consul can visit arrested U.S. citizens, provide a list of attorneys, provide information on the host country's legal system, contact family or friends, protest mistreatment, and monitor prison conditions.  Family or friends can send money to incarcerated individuals through the State Department.

Arrest of an American Citizen in England and Wales

  • Family members in the United Kingdom who are concerned about a U.S. citizen arrested in England or Wales can call the  U.S. Embassy in London at 020-7499-9000 during office hours. In the case of a genuine emergency, the Duty Officer will take the call.

Arrest of an American Citizen in N. Ireland

  • Family members in the United Kingdom who are concerned about the arrest of a U.S. citizen in Northern Ireland, should call 028 9038 6100 during office hours (8:30am through 5:00pm).  In the case of a genuine emergency outside of normal business hours, telephone 01253-501106.

Arrest of an American Citizen in Scotland

  • Family members in the United Kingdom who are concerned about the arrest of a U.S. citizen in Scotland should follow this link for further information, including contact details for the Consulate General in Edinburgh.