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Consular officers will do their best to assist U.S. nationals abroad. However, they must devote priority time and energies to those Americans who find themselves in the most serious legal, medical, or financial difficulties.
Because of limited resources, consuls cannot provide routine or commercial-type services. They cannot act as travel agents, information bureaus, banks, or law enforcement officers. U.S. federal law forbids a consular officer from acting as your lawyer. Consular officers cannot: find you employment; get you visas, residence permits or driving permits; act as interpreters; search for missing luggage; call your credit card company or bank; replace stolen travelers checks; or settle disputes with hotel managers. They can, however, tell you how to get assistance on these and other matters.
Excerpted from:U. S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs. U. S. State Department Publication 9926. February, 1992. pgs. 33-34. Note: As of July, 1997 this was the latest non-internet-published U.S. State Department document pertaining to this topic.
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