If you lose your passport in Austria, head for McDonald's Golden Arches

/ CBS News

A sign for a McDonald's restaurant is seen in Vienna, Austria. Getty

Americans who find themselves in need of U.S. government assistance while in Austria can now seek help at one of almost 200 McDonald's restaurants around the country. The U.S. Embassy in Vienna posted a photo on its Facebook page late last week heralding the new "Memorandum of Agreement" with the fast-food giant, under which restaurant staff will be trained to connect U.S. citizens to the embassy via a new hotline phone number.

"American citizens traveling in Austria who find themselves in distress and without a way to contact the U.S. Embassy can enter – as of Wednesday, May 15, 2019 – any McDonald's in Austria, and staff will assist them in making contact with the U.S. Embassy for consular services," the embassy said.

The service may to prove useful for Americans who lose their passports and either don't have cellphones that work in Europe, or don't have the means to find a phone number for the embassy.

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The U.S. embassy said it wanted to ensure that citizens had every possible option to get in touch should they need to, calling helping Americans abroad "the #1 duty of every embassy around the world."

Info from the Consular Section: New partnership with McDonald's Austria to help U.S. citizens in need – Ambassador…

Posted by U.S. Embassy Vienna on Friday, May 10, 2019

McDonald's told BBC News it had been asked by U.S. Ambassador to Austria Trevor Traina to offer the service.

A spokesman for the restaurant chain told the BBC that employees would, "help anyone who finds themselves in need of assistance," not just Americans, "for example, by calling the police or emergency services." The fast-food company also made it clear that its Austrian restaurants would remain Austrian territory, unlike official U.S. embassies and consulates around the world which are U.S. territory under international law.

The embassy's Facebook post showed Traina after he signed the agreement with McDonald's managing director in Austria, Isabelle Kuster, on May 10.

First published on May 15, 2019 / 9:41 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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