U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
American Citizens Services
STATEMENT BY RICHARD BOUCHER, SPOKESMAN
State Department Alerts Students To Risks Of Overseas Travel
Each February, the Department of State distributes information to over
1,200 college and university newspapers to alert American students
traveling abroad during their spring and summer breaks about conditions
that may affect their safety and welfare. Students, who can be caught
off-guard by differences in local practices and unfamiliar surroundings,
sometimes face the risk of arrest in connection with drug and alcohol abuse
and can become the victims of crime while traveling in foreign countries.
The information is part of the Department's effort to inform as many
Americans as possible of hazards they may encounter outside the U.S. We
endeavor to achieve as wide a distribution as possible to some of our most
vulnerable travelers: young people going abroad, some of them for the first
The State Department urges college and university newspapers to share this
information with their students, and we encourage them to consult the
Bureau of Consular Affairs' web site,
http://travel.state.gov/studentinfo.html, for the latest travel safety
Travel Safety Information for Students
As the time approaches for spring or summer breaks, many college students
are getting ready for that much anticipated trip abroad. Most will have a
safe and enjoyable adventure, but for some, the trip will become a
nightmare. A number of ruined vacations are caused by one or more of the
following: drugs, alcohol and disorderly behavior.
Each year, more than 2,500 American citizens are arrested abroad--about
half on narcotics charges, including possession of very small amounts of
illegal substances. A drug that may be legal in one country may not be
legal in a neighboring nation. Some young people are victimized because
they may be unaware of the laws, customs, or standards of the country they
Besides drugs, alcohol can also get U.S. citizens in trouble abroad.
Students have been arrested for being intoxicated in public areas, for
underage drinking, and for drunk driving. Some young Americans go abroad
assuming that local authorities will overlook such conduct. Many believe
that they are immune from prosecution in foreign countries because they are
American citizens. The truth is that Americans are expected to obey all of
the laws of the countries they visit, and those who break these laws
sometimes face severe penalties, including prison sentences.
Disorderly or reckless behavior is also to be avoided. In many countries,
conduct that would not result in an arrest here in the U.S. constitutes a
violation of local law. It is crucial that young Americans be aware of this
risk as they are enjoying their time abroad.
Being arrested is not the only thing that can happen on a foreign vacation.
Young Americans have suffered injury or even death from automobile
accidents, drownings and falls, in addition to other mishaps. While these
accidents are sometimes chance occurrences, many are caused by alcohol or
drug abuse. Sadly, other Americans have been raped or robbed because they
have found themselves in unfamiliar locales or are incapable of exercising
prudent judgment while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Remember: Reckless behavior while in another country can do more than ruin
your vacation; it can land you in a foreign jail or worse. It is possible
to have a safe and fun trip, avoid risky behavior and become familiar with
the basic laws and customs of the country you plan to visit before you
travel. To obtain more information about traveling abroad, check the
Department of State's web site at http://travel.state.gov/studentinfo.html.
For further information contact:
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Public Affairs
Press Inquiries: (202) 647-1488
Internet address: http://travel.state.gov
Public Inquiries: toll free (888) 407-4747