Contacting Your Embassy in Europe
Even though you are working in Europe, you are not a European citizen, or a citizen of the country you are living in. You are still a citizen of the US (or Canada) and both governments promise to protect and help their citizens while they are abroad. This protection and help is one of the primary reasons for the existence of embassies and consulates in other countries. Embasies are the first place you should go when you need legal or bureaucratic advice in dealing with working in Europe.
Consulates and embassies are always located in the major city or cities of any given country. Here’s a list of US embassies abroad and a list of Canadian embassies abroad.
Both countries have embassies in every major European country, and sometimes even more than one.
It is always a very good idea to register with your local embassy when you first arrive in Europe. The reason for this is that the embassies are the ones responsible for dissemination of information from the federal government back home. If the embassy knows how to contact you, they will be able to keep you informed about issues such as new travel regulations, or upcoming elections back in North America. But the most important service that embassies serve is to help traveling citizens in the event of a local disaster.
By registering with the embassy, they will keep you informed in the event of any natural disaster or political unrest. They will also be a way for you to be able to assure friends and family back home that you are alive and safe.
Embassies also help with issuing new passports, official government documentation, and other official consular services. But in addition to this, embassies also provide a wealth of information about traveling to, and living in, the country where they are located. In fact, the website of the US embassy for whichever European country you are interested in living in should be one of your first stops for finding information about visas, work permits, and just general advice on living in the country.
Embassies can also provide lists of English speaking services such as doctors and lawyers in a given region.
They also provide invaluable help in dealing with local red tape, if only because they have already seen it many times before and can give advice on the best approach to deal with it.
Your local embassy will also assure your basic human rights if you are arrested; however, you have to clearly state that you wish to see your local consul. The local government does not have to provide you access to consular support if you do not ask for it.
Always remember that, in the eyes of the local European government, you are a guest of the country, even if you are working there. That means that at the end of the day, they can ask you to leave without any justification. More importantly, you are still a citizen of the United States or Canada which means you will probably still have some tax responsibilities back home as well as an obligation to vote. Dealing with these issues from across ‘the pond’ can be a real hassle, but your local embassy will be able to help you with these procedural issues.