Arrest of a U.S. Citizen

If you are an American and you have been arrested or detained, please contact your nearest consulate as listed on the right side of this page.

Americans in Canada are fully subject to Canadian laws and legal procedures. However, Americans arrested or detained in Canada have the right to communicate with an American Consular Officer. Such communication allows the consulate to monitor a detainee’s general welfare and ensure, as far as possible, that the U.S. citizen’s individual rights are observed as consistent with local practices and that proper treatment is accorded under internationally accepted standards. In addition, if the detainee requests assistance, the Consulate can facilitate communication with family and friends, provide a list of attorneys, and assist in arranging the transfer of personal funds from the U.S. to pay legal or other costs.

Please be aware, however, that a Consular Officer cannot arrange for the release of anyone, or act as an attorney or the detainee’s personal representative when dealing with Canadian prison authorities. Furthermore, the U.S. Government does not provide bail money or pay attorney fees. Detainees who wish to raise an issue with prison authorities should follow appropriate channels within the institution.

As Canadian judicial practices are distinct from those in the United States in several important areas, the consulate strongly suggests that detainees obtain the services of an attorney, either private counsel or one provided through the Canadian legal aid system. For information on lawyers in Canada, please consult the relevant page on this website.

In all communications with the Consular Officer, the right to privacy is protected by U.S. law under the Privacy Act. The Embassy or consulate will not release information related to the detained U.S. citizen to anyone — regardless of their relationship to the citizen — unless the detainee specifically authorizes the release by signing a Privacy Act Waiver. Waivers are available from your nearest Consulate upon request.