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What Is The FCO?

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Dear EssentialTravel.co.uk,
After a friend and I had booked our tickets and paid for our trip to Mexico, I saw that a travel warning issued by the FCO had been cleared. Who are the FCO and what do they do? What would they be warning us about? Beth Stone, Sussex

Our Answer

The British Foreign Commonwealth Office, or FCO, is the government department responsible for promoting the interests of the United Kingdom overseas. In other words they are like the 24 hour news channel for UK citizens abroad. They cover over 200 countries, and supply current and accurate information on matters that concern people who are in, or going to, those destinations.

The FCO Are Not A Dooms Day Resource

The FCO do not specialise in bad news that will stop you going on holiday. They are an information resource that is there for us to use when going abroad Business travellers, backpackers, tour groups, aid workers, and everyone else should be checking the FCO website (as a general precaution) before going on holiday.

The major areas of news include the following:

  • Changes in legal travel matters - like visas, work permits and ESTA
  • Seasonal issues - snowfall on runways or heat waves
  • Natural disasters (tsunamis and volcanic ash clouds)
  • Government issues (like riots and terrorism)

For a broad explanation of the services they offer, take a look at ET's news FCO microsite, which includes the new FCO travel widget, giving you instant information about all the FCO-covered countries.

Otherwise check out the FCO website for yourself and stay smart when you travel!

Last Updated: July 2011

Gugulethu Hlekwayo

Gugulethu Hlekwayo

A timid traveller, but a traveller none the less; Gugulethu is in his element lost and without a map - preferably with a companion willing to listen to his tall tales. He's our resident expert on the best muffins in town.