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Issued by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, July 1999


The Millennium Bug or Year 2000 (Y2K) problem has implications for computer systems and equipment controlled by microprocessors throughout the world, and in some cases could lead to unpredictable malfunctions in the period late 1999 to early 2000. Infrastructure systems such as power, water, telecommunications and transportation as well as financial institutions, retail distribution and medical facilities could be affected.

In the UK a great deal of work is being undertaken to ensure that the national infrastructure and administration continues to function. Many businesses and other organisations are also actively addressing potential Y2K problems and assessing the possible impact of the millenium bug to their operations. They are drawing up business continuity plans for the transition period.

Information about the state of preparedness in other countries is becoming more readily available. Action 2000 (details below) summarise on their web-site information which is already publicly available from other countries' official Year 2000 web-pages. In addition the Foreign and Commonwealth office is in the process of gathering further information from overseas which will be placed on the FCO web-site.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is taking action with other Governments and in international organisations to assist where it can on this global problem. Y2K related advice for British travellers is issued through our normal consular travel advice network and will be updated during the course of 1999.

Businesses need also to consider themselves how potential Y2K problems overseas could impact on their operations. The following questions outline some of the issues companies need to explore with any overseas partners, suppliers and customers and where they can obtain advice.

Do you have any overseas partners, suppliers or customers?

  • Are they addressing potential Y2K problems to your satisfaction?

  • Are they drawing up a business continuity plan to ensure sources of supplies, financial continuity, quality control etc.

  • Are they scheduling deliveries/payments to avoid the period of greatest risk around the millennium change-over date?

  • Is there potential for you to work together with them to ensure business continuity, perhaps by offering to share your own plans and solutions as a guide?

Do you have staff/offices overseas?

  • Have they been tasked to assess local risks to their operations from potential Y2K problems?

  • Have business continuity plans been put in place?

  • Do key managers need to be on duty/on call over the changeover period?

  • Are there health and safety implications for them?

Advice is available from:

Action 2000 - a UK Government funded group set up to advise UK businesses on the Y2K issue. An Action Pack of helpsheets is available from them. Their website contains country specific information derived from other countries official Year 2000 web-pages. It also contains a list of useful UK and international Y2K websites and international Y2K organisations to which you can direct overseas suppliers and customers as a starting point for information. (The website is particularly useful.)

  • TEL: 0845 601 2000 (action 2000 helpline)
  • FAX: 01923 242 555

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have prepared a booklet on Health and Safety Issues and the Year 2000 problem. This can be accessed on the website (requires Acrobat Reader) or copies can be obtained from HSE Books, tel 01787 881165, fax 01787 313995.

If you are a member of a trade association it is worth checking what advice and/or examples of best practice they may have to offer.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice is available on this website at