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Emergency Assistance

Emergency Services

The Consulate encourages all U.S. citizens to have a copy of important phone numbers handy and/or pre-programmed into their phones. In an emergency, U.S. citizens may have to call for help themselves, as assistance from onlookers and passersby may not necessarily be forthcoming. In some cases, local onlookers and passersby did not assist in emergencies where help was clearly needed.


Emergency Phone Numbers:

The following phone numbers are valid throughout China.

Police: 110 

Fire Department Emergency Phone Number: 119

Ambulance Phone Number: 120

Traffic Police Phone Number: 122

U.S. Consulate Shanghai After Hours Emergency Hotline: (86-21) 3217-4650; press “1” then “3” to speak to an emergency operator.


Victims of Crime

If you are injured or are the victim of a crime, you should contact the police immediately to report the incident and request a police report. If you need an attorney, please refer to Law Firms in Shanghai for a list of law firms in the greater Shanghai area. You are not required to report the crime to the U.S. Consulate, but if you choose to contact us, we can help explain the local criminal justice process and connect you to local and U.S.-based resources. We cannot investigate crimes, provide legal advice, or represent you in court. For detailed information on how we can help, please visit Travel.State.Gov.

Medical Emergencies

If you need medical assistance, please refer to the list of Shanghai Medical Facilities and Doctors to find contact information for local doctors, dentists, and hospitals known to treat foreigners.  If you require ambulance transport to a hospital, please call 120. For air medical evacuations, please refer to the following list of Air Ambulance Providers.

Fire Emergencies and Traffic Accidents

In the case of a fire emergency, please call the fire department at 119. In the case of a traffic accident, please call the traffic police at 122. If you require medical attention, please call an ambulance at 120, and refer to our list of Shanghai Medical Facilities and Doctors.

Arrest and Detention

If you are detained by Chinese authorities, the Consulate will do all we can to assist. In conformance with the U.S.-PRC Consular Convention, Chinese authorities must report the detention of a U.S. citizen to the Consulate no later than four days from the date of arrest or detention. A consular officer will visit any American who is detained and provide a list of sources of legal advice or assistance. In cases of lengthy incarceration, we visit American prisoners at least every 30 to 60 days to ensure that they receive treatment no worse than that accorded citizens of People’s Republic of China. The Consulate cannot act as your attorney. If you need an attorney, please refer to Law Firms in Shanghai for a list of law firms in the greater Shanghai area.

Typhoons and other Severe Weather

For the most up-to-date information regarding weather conditions, monitor local weather reports, local media and messages from local authorities, and weather websites such as the Hong Kong Observatory and the China Meteorological Administration. Please consider enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, if you haven’t already, to receive security and emergency messages from the nearest Consulate or Embassy. Domestic travel during this period will likely be affected by adverse weather conditions, causing delays and cancellations. Please contact rail stations and airline companies directly about their cancellations. For Shanghai flights, you can view the Shanghai Airport’s status. Please follow precautions advised by local authorities, and avoid dangerous areas affected by the storm (e.g. flooded areas, downed power lines). Hotels may have supplies on hand, but you might consider candles/flashlights and storing up extra food and drinking water. Please see the Red Cross website for more information on storm preparedness. For medical emergencies in all areas, please dial 120; for all other emergencies please dial 110.


If you need emergency financial assistance, the fastest and most efficient method for friends or family to send money internationally is via Western Union or MoneyGram.

  • Western Union operates in China in partnership with the China Courier Service Corp. The money transfer information is sent through the company's international computer network and the recipient can collect the funds a few minutes after the transaction is complete. Western Union charges a 0.5% service fee. Funds can be picked up in person, or delivered by courier to the recipient at the address provided by the sender. Please see their website here to find a location near you.
  • Similar to Western Union, MoneyGram transfers funds electronically through its network of over 50,000 international agents. However, unlike Western Union who charges a flat fee, MoneyGram’s fee is based on the origination and destination cities, amount of money sent, and the desired speed of transaction completion. Please see their website here for locations.

The U.S. Department of State can also assist relatives in the U.S. who wish to send money in an emergency, but this option is slower. Details below:

  • An OCS Trust can be used to send money to a U.S. citizen in an emergency financial situation. When one uses this service, a Department of State trust account is established in the recipient’s name in order to forward funds overseas. There is a $30 processing fee, and the person sending the funds must transfer the money to the Department of State via Western Union, bank wire, or cashier’s check. Upon receipt, the Department of State sends a telegram to the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad authorizing disbursement the next work day. The recipient must contact the Embassy or Consulate to arrange receipt; funds are normally disbursed in the foreign country’s currency and not in U.S. dollars. Depending on how the funds are transferred to the Department of State, it can take 3-10 business days to complete the transfer to the recipient overseas.

What if no one can send me money?

  • In certain cases, the U.S. Consulate may be able to help a needy American return home. However, applicants must meet strict criteria, and the Consulate must exhaust all other resources before the applicant would qualify for a loan. If a loan is disbursed, the applicant’s passport will be cancelled and they will not be permitted to leave the U.S. again until they repay the full amount of their loan. Assistance will not be provided to pay existing debts, including medical bills.