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Consulates attended to more than 8,800 Spaniards in individual and collective emergencies in 2023

  • The 178 consular offices serve almost three million Spaniards living abroad

  • Conflicts in Sudan and Niger, attacks in Israel and the war in Gaza were the main crises dealt with last year

  • 30% more Spaniards were registered in the Travellers' Register for their trips abroad

  • The new system for overseas voting was implemented for the first time in the 2023 general and regional elections
May 21, 2024
Spanish consulates abroad dealt with over 8,800 cases of collective and individual emergencies in 2023, 1,200 more than the previous year, and responded to 160,000 emergency calls, according to data from the 2023 Consular Activity Balance, presented today at the Council of Ministers by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, José Manuel Albares. 

Adequate assistance and protection for Spaniards abroad is a leading priority for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. To this end, Spain has 178 consular offices, one of the most extensive networks among European Union Member States, to serve a Spanish community that has practically doubled since 2009, to nearly 3 million residents abroad (59% of them in America and 38% in Europe). 

The millions of Spaniards who travel abroad for tourism or business must be added to this list. In 2023, 142,000 people were registered in the Travellers' Register, 30% more than in 2022, showing that it is an increasingly used tool. 

Victims of violence against women abroad are a particularly vulnerable group. The lack of knowledge about the realities of the country and the foreign language, as well as the lack of a social and family network of their own, often aggravate an already extremely difficult situation. Our consular network handled a total of 428 new cases in 2023, and we managed to repatriate 26 women and 14 minors. 

Regarding the care of Spanish individuals who have been arrested abroad, as of 31 December 2023 there were 940 such individuals (823 men and 117 women), the countries with the highest number being France, Germany and Morocco. Since 2022, the number of individuals who have been arrested has increased after a gradual decrease in previous years, primarily explained by the reopening of borders following the COVID-19 crisis.

Conflicts in Africa and the Middle East
2023 was marked by the Middle East crisis. In October, following the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel, a special operation was launched to look after the families of the two Spanish citizens who died in the attacks and to repatriate Spaniards who were travelling at the time and were affected by the subsequent flight cancellations. In total, 334 Spaniards and 95 foreign nationals were flown back to Spain in two Air Force planes. Additionally, since the beginning of the war in Gaza, 100 Spanish-Palestinian citizens and 87 Palestinians, mainly relatives of the former, have received help to leave the Gaza Strip. 

The outbreak of a new civil war in Sudan in April 2023 led the Government to organise an operation which saw a total of 34 Spanish citizens and 70 citizens of nine different nationalities, including 50 citizens from European Union Member States, evacuated from the country. Months later, in response to the coup d'état in Niger, a total of 74 people flew from Niamey to Spain in an Air Force plane: 16 Spaniards and 58 citizens of eighteen different nationalities, including 9 EU citizens.

Providing services for Spaniards abroad
The consular offices also carry out routine service procedures for Spaniards in several areas, including documentation for persons in the Consular Register. In 2023, 388,722 passports and 9,530 laissez-passer were issued, as well as 69 provisional travel documents to European citizens.

128,179 birth registrations, 21,459 marriage registrations and 6,865 death registrations were also recorded. This represents 39% more registrations than in 2022, due in part to the increase in birth registrations for beneficiaries of the Law on Democratic Memory who chose Spanish nationality.

Finally, consular offices processed 1,609,047 visas, almost 20% more than in 2022 and over three times more than in 2020, a year marked by COVID-19 travel restrictions. Around 85% of the visas issued are short-stay visas, although study visas have also increased significantly. This reflects the efforts of the Administration as a whole to promote internationalisation in education. In 2023, about 6% of the visas issued were study visas. 

Reform of overseas voting and Democratic Memory
The new voting from abroad system approved in September 2022 has facilitated the participation of Spanish citizens abroad, by eliminating the “voto rogado” [vote by request] and reducing some of the formalities that Spaniards who habitually reside abroad had to carry out. Therefore, in 2023, with the implementation of the new regulatory framework in the regional elections of 28 May and the general elections of 23 July 2023, the voting figures increased slightly: from 3.3% (2019) to 7.6% (2023) for regional elections; and from 6.8% (2019) to 10% (2023) for general elections.

Furthermore, under the Law on Democratic Memory, between 21 October 2022 and 31 December 2023 226,354 applications were received in the consular network, resulting in 110,540 files being approved and 69,421 registered.