Ask a frequent traveler what their number one travel tip is and they will most likely tell you to be prepared for anything and have a back-up plan. Thinking about having to call the police, fire department or an ambulance is scary but needing to call them and not knowing the phone number is even scarier. RELATED: How to Quickly Make an Emergency Call On an iPhone

Did you know that across the 196 countries in the world, there are more than 70 different emergency numbers? Crazy, right? Fortunately, I don’t think I’ve ever had to call an emergency number when traveling overseas and I’ve been to over 70 countries. I did have to go to the hospital once in Hungary when I thought I had malaria; I was really sick and had just returned from Africa.

Another time, my taxi driver in Denmark hit an old man crossing the road on the way to the airport. Thankfully, a witness called an ambulance to help the poor man. The photo above is of the police officer making a report. 

If, God forbid, something happens to you, will you know what to do? There are several ways you can be prepared.

1. Find out the emergency phone numbers of the country you’re visiting, in advance by researching and pre-programming the numbers into your phone. The U.S. State Department has a handy reference list of emergency contact numbers in foreign countries. See a small portion above.

2. Download an app. I wrote about TripWhistle (free on iOS) that will help you know the right number and get help faster away from home by allowing you to dial the local emergency police, fire, and ambulance phone numbers anywhere in the world with a single touch.

3. If you have an iPhone, according to Apple, “You can “quickly call emergency services (all countries or regions except India). Simultaneously press and hold the side button and either volume button until the sliders appear and the countdown on Emergency SOS ends, then release the buttons. Or, you can enable iPhone to start Emergency SOS when you quickly press the side button five times. Go to Settings > Emergency SOS, then turn on Call with 5 Presses.

The latter is a great safety tip and should memorized, especially at home.

I hope this helps and as the State Department writes on their website, “Hopefully you won’t need to use it, but it’s worth knowing the number just in case.”

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2 Comments On "911 is NOT Universal - Here's How to Reach Emergency Services When Traveling"
  1. Wallace|

    Love the emergency call number list.

    In the list you do have the “old” advice for Australia.

    While the 112 number still works (principally for “old” pre- programmed devices and apps to still work) all phones, mobile and fixed line, should use 000.

    Everyone, using any mobile or fixed line telephone is encouraged to use 000.

    Use of the single emergency number minimises the chance of error.

    By the by, I seem to remember that the 112 number was introduced as a result of some inability of early mobile networks to actually call 000. All current networks and bands now work with 000.


    Visitors to Australia, and locals, are well advised to download the free app. This app is an excellent resource for making all emergency and attendance calls.


    1. Johnny Jet|


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