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Emergency Financial Assistance
April 17, 2021

With limited exceptions, there are no U.S. government funds available to assist American citizens abroad who are temporarily without money. Individuals are, therefore, asked to contact their family members, friends or their employers regarding their financial needs.  In emergency cases, where local banking facilities are not available, funds from the United States can be transmitted through the State Department. The family member, friends, or employer can send money through Western Union to the Department of State’s Office of Overseas Citizens Services.

U.S. citizens in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain who find themselves in these circumstances should contact the Embassy in Abu Dhabi.  U.S. citizens in Dubai and other Emirates should contact the Consulate in Dubai .  You may also contact the State Department’s Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747 (during business hours) or 202-647-5225 (after hours).

Instructions should be given to the Department of State to forward the money to the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi or U.S. Consulate in Dubai. Upon receipt of a cable from the Department of State, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate will make partial or full payment in U.S. dollars or local currency as soon as possible.

Sending Money to U.S. Citizens Overseas

When a U.S. citizen encounters an emergency financial situation abroad, the Department of State’s Office of Overseas Citizens Services (OCS) can establish a trust account in the citizen’s name to forward funds overseas.  Upon receipt of funds, OCS will transfer the money to the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate for disbursement to the recipient. The recipient must contact the Embassy or Consulate directly to arrange receipt. The fee for establishing a trust account is $30. The recipient’s name and overseas location (city, country) must be provided with the fund transfer, or the transfer will be delayed.  The Embassy or Consulate normally disburses funds in the foreign country’s currency and not in U.S. dollars. Trust fund transfers are a one-time service, except in specific, pre-approved circumstances.  Funds sent during non-business hours may not be processed until the next business day.  Questions can be directed to OCS at 1-888-407-4747.

There are three methods of transmitting funds to OCS for transfer overseas:

WESTERN UNION:  Funds sent via Western Union are generally processed and available for disbursement overseas within 24 hours during the business week.  This is usually the fastest method of sending funds to OCS.  Funds can be sent one of three ways.  (1) call Western Union’s Quick Collect© service at 1-800-634-3422, (2) log onto http://www.westernunion.com/, or (3) visit a Western Union agent location.  In most cases, funds sent via Western Union arrive at OCS within 30 minutes.

  1. Call Western Union’s Quick Collect©:
  • You will need a MasterCard, or Visa credit card to authorize a Western Union fund transfer by phone
  • You will be asked for a “code city,” which is ”OVERSEASEMERGENCY, DC.
  • You will be asked for a “Pay To” name which is “Department of State.”
  • You will be asked for an account number: please use your phone number.
  • Tell the operator to put the name and location of the citizen you are sending money to in the reference field to avoid a delay in the fund transfer.
  1. On the Internet, only MasterCard and Visa are accepted:
  • Click on MAKE PAYMENT
  • Choose your payment type and biller:  “Other Billers”
  • Follow the prompts to register
  • Some States place restrictions on the use of QuickCollect© by phone or the Internet.  Western Union can inform you of the States with these restrictions.
  1. Go in person, with cash, to any Western Union agent location. This is the least expensive Western Union method of sending money.  To find the closest location, call 1-800-325-6000.  You will need to complete a blue payment form which will ask for the same information requested above.   The State Department’s $30 processing fee must be included in the total amount sent by Western Union.  Failure to include the fee will result in the money being deducted from the amount intended for the U.S. citizen recipient.  Note Western Union also charges an additional fee for its services.

U.S. MAIL OR COURIER SERVICE: Send a cashiers check or money order ONLY (personal checks and cash cannot be accepted) for the desired amount, plus the $30 processing fee, made payable to Department of State, to:   Overseas Citizen Services, Department of State, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20520.  Include the recipient’s full name, their overseas location, and your name, address, and telephone number.  Failure to include the fee will result in the money being deducted from the amount intended for the U.S. citizen.  Delivery of overnight/courier mail to OCS may take 3 to 4 days.  Regular mail can take 3 to 4 weeks to reach OCS due to on-going irradiation procedures. We strongly discourage this method for emergency use.

For additional information, visit our webpage on sending money abroad.