Q: What is the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program? How do I register my travel with the U.S. Department of State and what are the benefits?
One of the benefits of traveling abroad as a United States Citizen and with a U.S. Passport is the protection you carry with you. The United States is a powerful country, both in diplomacy and in military strength. Civil and political unrest has plagued numerous countries, occasionally making it unsafe for Americans who are there. If the U.S. Government knows where you are, it can plan to offer the assistance to you in circumstances where your safety is in danger.
In the terrorist attacks and military conflicts that have plagued countries including Nigeria, Paris, Thailand and Ukraine, among others, the local U.S. embassies and consulates have taken steps to verify and confirm the safety of the Americans they are charged to represent and protect.
The State Department maintains the STEP, or Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, to maintain a list of Americans abroad, when and where they will be. Registering in the STEP program is important:
U.S. embassies and consulates assist nearly 200,000 Americans each year who are victims of crime, accident, or illness, or whose family and friends need to contact them in an emergency. When an emergency happens, or if natural disaster, terrorism, or civil unrest strikes during your foreign travel, the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate can be your source of assistance and information. By registering your trip, you help the embassy locate you when you might need them the most. Registration is voluntary and costs nothing, but it should be a big part of your travel planning and security.
I recommend that all Americans traveling abroad spend a few minutes informing the State Department of their travel plans and itinerary, before leaving the country. This will offer you an added layer of protection in the case of an unforeseen disaster.
To enroll in STEP, click here: https://step.state.gov/step/
If you need help locating the nearest United States Embassy or Consulate in your foreign destination, visit http://www.usembassy.gov.