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Emergency Financial Assistance
February 15, 2018


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 has various locations throughout Colombia. 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, 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.