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Assistance to citizens abroad

CONSULAR ASSISTANCE

Social assistance is offered to Italian citizens who become indigent and are, therefore, eligible to receive economic or other aid in order to overcome momentary difficulty.

HEALTHCARE ASSISTANCE

The conventions stipulated by the Consulates with hospitals and other institutions allow indigent Italian citizens residing within their jurisdictions to benefit from day hospital treatment, hospitalisation and pharmaceutical assistance.

Ad hoc conventions can be stipulated with institutions capable of caring for elderly and indigent Italian nationals who are not self-sufficient and in need of continuing nursing and psychological care.

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

Consulates can distribute subsidies to Italian citizens residing stably within their consular jurisdiction and who find themselves in verifiable situations of exceptional need, such as delayed arrival of government assistance check, disability, unusual medical conditions involving special medical, dietary or pharmaceutical expenses not covered by local assistance, and so on. The indigent Italian national is required to provide documented proof of his/her situation of exceptional need. Subsidies cannot exceed the maximum limit established by ministerial provisions. This type of assistance also includes the issuance or renewal of Italian passports at no charge to Italian citizens in financial difficulty.

Italian citizens in transit who fall victim to theft of money or documents can also request loans with the promise of repayment to the Italian Treasury. Loans are granted on the basis of evaluations made by the Consulate.

REPATRIATION AND MEDICAL REPATRIATION

A particularly delicate sector within the assistance activities aimed at Italian citizens abroad concerns the repatriation of Italian nationals in serious difficulty that cannot be resolved locally in the foreign countries where they find themselves. The repatriation services provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in collaboration with the competent local authorities (prefectures, police commissaries, municipalities, local health departments, social services) concern:

· Italian emigrants who need to return to Italy permanently for economic or health reasons;

· abandoned minors;

· the mentally ill (the procedure is very complex in this case since it requires the presence of one or more qualified escorts, as well as the identification of specialised hospitals);

· Italian citizens who have reached the end of a period of imprisonment or have been expelled;

· elderly people without families for whom admittance to retirement homes in Italy has been requested;

· seriously ill people who cannot be treated locally for lack of suitable facilities.

Repatriation procedures at the expense of the Treasury are limited to cases of substantiated indigence as verified by the diplomatic-consular network; in all other cases, repatriation takes place subject to the signing of loans along with the promise of repayment to the Treasury.

REPATRIATION OF CORPSES

The loss of a loved one is always painful but, should it happen abroad, the need to resolve certain practical problems compounds that sorrow. Contact the nearest Consulate or Embassy for assistance with these problems.

In order to repatriate a corpse, the Consulate contacted will have to forward a request to the Italian municipality concerned to obtain a declaration of “nulla osta all’introduzione della salma” (police clearance for a corpse to be received in Italy from abroad).

Once this declaration has been received from the municipality the funeral home appointed by the family, who are having the corpse of the person repatriated at their own expense, will be able to proceed.

It is possible, however, to apply for reimbursement of expenses or contributions from regional and the local government bodies.

In the case that an Italian national has died in a certifiable state of indigence, the Consulate or Embassy that has been contacted can provide assistance to the deceased Italian national’s destitute relatives residing abroad in the form of the total or partial refund of any properly documented funeral expenses sustained locally.

CONSULAR PROTECTION AND LEGAL QUESTIONS

Much of the help provided within the framework of consular protection and assistance concerns citizens who have encountered problems with the local legal system, or who are involved in accidents; the repatriation of bodies of deceased persons; the search for Italian nationals who have not maintained contact; assistance to Italian parents whose foreign spouse (or a spouse with dual citizenship) has abducted a child and taken it to another country.

In the case of accidents occurring abroad, the diplomatic-consular representations make sure that Italian citizens receive adequate medical treatment locally, that relatives are duly informed and that all possible assistance is provided in case return to Italy is required.

In the case of an Italian national being arrested in a foreign country, the Consulate can:

– make consular visits to the detainee;

– indicate a possible lawyer;

– maintain contact with family in Italy;

– provide the detainee with healthcare, food, books and newspapers where necessary and permitted by local regulations;

– intervene as regards transfer to Italy should the Italian detainee in countries belonging to the Strasbourg Convention on the transfer of prisoners or other ad hoc bilateral agreements;

– intervene, in certain cases, to support requests for pardon on humanitarian grounds.

The Consulate cannot:

– intervene in court on behalf of the Italian national;

– pay the detainee’s legal expenses.

INTERNATIONAL ABDUCTION OF MINORS

The problem of the international abduction of minors has become increasingly relevant in the last few years, both due to the increase in often turbulent separations between people of differing or dual citizenship, and due to the greater awareness and sensitivity with which the problem is being viewed in our country.

The only binding instrument at the disposal of the Italian parent for recuperating the minor is the Hague Convention of 25.10.1980 (Central Authority for Italy and the Department of Juvenile Justice at the Ministry of Justice). In cases where the Convention is not applicable the Ministry fully implements its institutional functions, adapting its intervention to the specific nature of each case.

OTHER CONSULAR ASSISTANCE SERVICES
TRACING ITALIAN NATIONALS ABROAD

Law 675/96 regarding the privacy of personal information states that no public body can release information on persons to private citizens without the consent of the parties concerned.

Therefore, once the person being traced has been located, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must obtain that person’s consent before informing those who submitted the request for the search.

In certain countries, such as in the U.S. for example, the local privacy law does not allow the release of information on people within their territorial jurisdiction. Application of legal restrictions and constraints must therefore be examined on a case-by-case basis.

Within these guidelines it is possible to initiate a search in one of the following manners:

– fax to Office IV of the Directorate General for Italians Abroad on 06 36918609/06 36918628;

– fax to the locally authorised Italian Consulate;

– phone 06 36912930 from 9.30 to 16.00 stating one’s own personal data, those of the person sought and the reason for tracing him/her.