In my 16 years of business travel, I have only registered my travel information with a U.S. Embassy once. However, that one experience was not perfect. It just so happens that towards the end of my three-week trip, a bomb went off just down the street from my hotel and actually killed two and injured dozens. I was not informed about the incident from my Embassy, which is something I would have expected. Perhaps my expectations are too high, but my colleagues are the ones who told me about the incident, otherwise, I would have never known.
I have always felt a sense of security that my colleagues in the country I was visiting would help me in a time of true crisis. However, when venturing out for personal reasons, it is true that we are in fact on our own. In this article, we will explore general services that the Embassy’s typically can provide when you are away from home.
Assistance with Lost Passports: If you lose your passport abroad, your Embassy should be able to help you get a new one. Keep in mind that if you are trekking in a remote area, you will have to find your way back to a major city and handle this task in person.
Assistance With Emergencies: If a citizen is arrested, missing, seriously ill, a victim of a violent crime, or dies, your Embassy should be able to provide services to advise family members on how to proceed with the issues at hand. There may be special phone numbers that you need to use for emergency situations, so be sure to read through the websites thoroughly and take down all the information. Having just a main reception phone number won’t help you in your hour of need.
Birth of a Child: If you are working abroad (or traveling near the end of a pregnancy) and your child happens to be born in a foreign country, you need to contact the Embassy to record the birth and get the necessary paperwork taken care of.
Notary Services: If you need notary services for official documentation (like buying a property), your Embassy may be able to help you with that for a fee.
Assistance With a Crisis/Evacuation: As for registering your travel information with your Embassy, first you need to check if this service is even offered. For U. S. citizens, there is a program called STEP, which stands for Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. The main benefit of this service is to allow the Embassy to contact citizens and notify them of evacuations or crisis situations in the country you are visited. If you have any concerns with the stability of a location you are traveling to, you may want to consider signing up.
As a rule of thumb before leaving for any trip, I suggest doing a minute of Internet research to at least find out where your country’s Embassy building is located. Even if you never plan on registering with them, have the address and phone number written down and carried with you at all times. Additionally, you may want to program the telephone number into your phone in case you come across an urgent situation.
As always I wish you all the happiest of travels!