Be better prepared when going to South Asia, Britons told

By Prasun Sonwalkar, IANS

London : Britain has cautioned visitors to the Indian sub-continent to be better prepared to avoid incidents such as passports being stolen, arrests, health complications and even deaths.

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Latest research conducted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) reveals that 345 Britons lost their passports while visiting the Indian sub-continent while 123 Britons died while visiting India, Bangladesh and Pakistan last year.

The FCO helped over 3,000 Britons in need of assistance in South Asia last year. India is one of the 10 countries in the world where Britons required the most consular assistance.

The research reveals that a total of 52 Britons were hospitalised in India. There were 35 Britons arrested in India, 22 in Pakistan and 12 in Bangladesh last year. More people lost their passports in Pakistan (195) than in India (144).

There were 550,000 estimated visits to India last year compared to 45,000 who went to Pakistan. The research suggests that while British Asians take precautions when they travel to Europe and the US, it is often not the case when it comes to visiting friends and family in their country of origin.

Many travel without insurance, without having had the right vaccinations or even without ensuring they have the correct re-entry documents. The FCO believes that many of these statistics would be lower through better preparation.

Foreign Office Minister Meg Munn said: “Even though you may be visiting friends or family abroad, you need to prepare thoroughly. Simple precautions like taking out comprehensive travel insurance, getting appropriate jabs and taking copies of important documents could help avoid common travelling traumas.”

As part of the ‘Know Before You Go Campaign’, the FCO has issued some guidelines to British citizens visiting friends and family in India, Pakistan or Bangladesh.

The travellers are being advised to always take out travel insurance because medical expenses can be very high. It can cost up to 45,000 pounds to get transported by air ambulance back to Britain from the Indian subcontinent.

Britons are being asked to ensure that the name on their passport is the same one they give when booking flights and arranging other travel documentation. If they have dual nationality, they are being advised to make sure make sure they have a Certificate of Entitlement (to the Right of Abode) in the passport of the other nationality for themselves and their families.

They are also being told to make a photocopy of the relevant pages in their passports and keep them separately from their passports.

Britons are being warned that even if they or their parents were born in Pakistan or Bangladesh, they may be considered a national of that country by the authorities, even if they don’t hold a passport of that country. This may limit the assistance that the British government can offer them.

British citizens travelling to South Asia are also being advised to get the necessary vaccinations and to know the personal import laws of the country.