Every time I travel outside the United States, I let the U.S. State Department know where I’ll be and how I can be reached. Having worked for the government for 25 years, I’m not one who is generally afraid of Big Brother. If anything should happen to me, or if a crisis arises in the area in which I’m traveling, I want my government to be able to step in to help my family and me. In my view, it’s one of the benefits that comes with paying taxes.
Whether you’re traveling or living abroad, I think it’s smart to register with your government before you leave. It’s a simple online process. Here are the benefits of registration:
- Your embassy can provide you with important information about safety and security (I receive email updates)
- In case of a crisis such as natural disaster or civil unrest, your embassy will be able to find you quickly to provide assistance
- Family and friends will be able to contact you more easily in case of an emergency.
If you’re traveling with a group, you may be able to register your entire group before you go.
Because my website is in English, I’m providing resources for travelers from some of the larger English-speaking countries. If your country is not listed here, check the website of your foreign ministry for travel advice, registration, etc.
United States: The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs provides a lot of information, including a useful checklist for travelers. They encourage American citizens and nationals to register with STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program).
Ireland: Irish citizens traveling or living overseas are encouraged to register their contact details with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Their travel page has a lot of useful information.
South Africa: The Department of International Relations and Cooperation provides an informative travel advice page for South Africans. Citizens are encouraged to register with ROSA (Registration of South Africans Abroad).
UK: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office stopped their overseas registration program in 2013, opting instead to provide information via social media. However, they have a travel advice website listed by country.