According to EU regulations "[y]ou are eligible for consular protection if you are a national of an EU Member State in distress in a country outside the EU where your country does not have an embassy/consulate".

But my own country (the Netherlands) has a consulate in Madagascar and it seems that this consulate is very limited though, only available during office hours and there is no emergency phone number. This is not going to help me if I have troubles on e.g. Friday night.

Then according to the website, when I actually search there, it seems as if the "Netherlands does not have consulates in Madagascar", so I am "entitled to protection by the consular authorities of" both the French and German consulates. I'm not completely sure if the website is giving me the correct result in my case.

Main question: As an EU national am I entitled to consular help if my own country only provides limited services through its consulate or embassy?

(Of course I will keep the French emergency phone number on me while in Antananarivo regardless.)

2 Answers 2


EU citizens who travel to or live in a third country where their Member State of nationality does not have an embassy or consulate have the right to consular protection by the consular authorities of any other Member State. That Member State has to assist these unrepresented EU citizens under the same conditions as its own nationals.

Source: Council Directive Explanatory Memorandum

Short answer: yes. You can report to the consular office of any member country and receive their assistance. Having said that, the consulate will get in touch with the Netherlands' Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This does not mean that they will necessarily call Den Haag because they may have other instructions such as contacting a Dutch consulate in the region, or they may act independently.

The framework for this legislation occurs in the EU Citizenship Report 2010, which says ...

...Dismantling the obstacles to EU citizens’ rights" the Commission announced it would increase the effectiveness of the right of EU citizens to be assisted in third countries, including in times of crisis, by the diplomatic and consular authorities of all Member States, by proposing legislative measures in 2011 and by better informing citizens via a dedicated website and targeted communication measures . The Commission reiterated this commitment in its Communication of 23 March 2011 on consular protection for unrepresented EU citizens and announced that it would submit legislation establishing the coordination and cooperation measures necessary to facilitate consular protection for unrepresented citizens and addressing the issue of financial compensation of consular protection in crisis situations

This was enacted by the European Commission Thursday 25 October 2012 Consular protection for citizens of the Union abroad P7_TA(2012)0394

In all events, you are advised to keep the Netherlands's Ministry of Foreign Affairs email with you so that you can reach them via your mobile or internet cafe, and so on.

Adding at the suggestion of JoeBlow
For your other question, you may choose any member consulate, even if a Dutch consulate is present but does not provide the service you require. This is stated explicitly in the law...

Unrepresented citizens should be able to freely choose the embassy, consulate or, where appropriate, the Union delegation from which they seek consular protection. Member States should be able to enter arrangements on burden-sharing. Such arrangements should be fairly distributed and take into account the capacities of each Member State . However such arrangements should be transparent for the citizen and should not jeopardize effective consular protection.

The protection available from a member consulate is very specific...

  1. Being the victim of a crime;
  2. Being detained or arrested;
  3. Requiring financial assistance;
  4. Requiring travel documents or other means to verify identity;
  5. Facilitated procedure in crisis situations;
  6. Illness or death.

All of these are governed by procedures which range from simple to complex. Financial assistance, for example, requires liaison with the person's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For all others, the service must be the same as that provided to their own citizens.

The regulations also address honorary consulates and explain that an honorary consulate may act as an embassy only within their competence. Their competence is established by the hosting country at the time the honorary consulate presents its credentials to the hosting country.

The traditions regarding the competences of honorary consuls diverge among Member States. Honorary consuls are generally in a position to perform very limited consular tasks. Honorary consuls should only be regarded as equivalent to accessible embassies and consulates present in a third country on a permanent basis within the scope of their competences pursuant to national law and practices.

There is a body of real-life case studies where people have exercised these rights, but it is behind a pay wall and hence no use on SO. However, the main corpus of EU regulations is at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/homepage.html

There is an explanatory memorandum at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:52011PC0881

For others reading this: this answer applies to EU member states only and does not necessarily apply to countries still applying for EU membership, or even countries in the EEA. Also note: some countries, like the ROI and the UK, have opt-outs from various portions of the EU regulations. Also note: the information in this answer cannot be reliably extended to non members like the US, Canada, and so on.

  • 1
    Some references would be cool.
    – the
    Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 20:11
  • @KasperSouren some "cool" references added to the original answer
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 20:37
  • "where their Member State of nationality does not have an embassy or consulate" is the tricky part wrt my question. My Member State has a consulate in MG, but it's not really providing the same services as the DE or FR consulate in MG. Your answer, as is, doesn't provide more insight in this matter. (Oh and a short quote with a link is just fine.)
    – the
    Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 21:14
  • Please read the last paragraph of my answer!
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 21:19
  • @JoeBlow, from Amendment 8, Recital 10 " Unrepresented citizens should be able to freely choose the embassy, consulate or, where appropriate, the Union delegation from which they seek consular protection..." Hope that helps!
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 18:49

The Netherlands does not have a consulate in Madagascar, it has an honorary consulate (consulaat honorair). These are very different things.

A consulate is an office staffed with career diplomats that can sort out visas and emergency passports and whatnot; from a traveler's POV, it's basically an embassy that happens to be outside the capital. (See here for the full scoop.)

An honorary consulate is a house with a shiny plaque on it, staffed (usually) by a local worthy, who will likely not even be a citizen of the country they represent. If you call or visit, they will say "oh dear", offer you a cup of tea if you're lucky, and call the embassy/consulate when it opens. As a typical example, here is how Finland describes their honorary consuls and what they can do:

An honorary consul monitors the rights of Finns and foreigners permanently residing in Finland. He or she provides advice and guidance for distressed Finnish citizens and foreigners permanently residing in Finland who are temporarily abroad, assisting them in their contacts with local authorities or the nearest Finnish embassy or consulate.

On the upside, while the honorary consul is unlikely to be able to help you very much, they will be able to direct you to whoever can help. Odds are pretty high that this is the nearest Dutch embassy though, since while an honorary consul can't do much, the embassy of another country can probably help you even less.

Update: The EU site lists one situation: if you've lost your passport, and "your country has no embassy/consulate in that country with the capacity to issue a travel document" (an honorary consulate will virtually never have that capacity), another EU country's embassy may assist you in getting an emergency travel document.

  • 1
    This would seem to solve the case ... .NL does NOT have a consulate in madcr. Good one. And yeah, honorary consulates throw the best parties :)
    – Fattie
    Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 6:53
  • I'll go for this answer if you find a reference (just a link is fine) in EU law (or otherwise official EU text/website) that covers the "honorary" situation.
    – the
    Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 7:45
  • 1
    Can you explain this part "the embassy of another country can probably help you even less" when the law specifically states otherwise?
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 18:59
  • 1
    A consulate is basically an embassy outside the capital… except it does none of the things all embassies do and not all embassies do what a consulate does. Obviously many embassies do have a consular section but what's the point of this description beyond adding confusion?
    – Relaxed
    Commented Sep 27, 2014 at 13:04
  • 1
    @GayotFow Yes, I read all that but I was commenting on another detail of the answer which I find unhelpful.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Sep 27, 2014 at 13:29

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .