Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
Tons of Americans travel internationally each year and do not have any problems. However, U.S. embassies and consulates are forced to help almost 190,000 Americans every year who have suffered from crime, accident, and sickness while overseas. In other cases, an emergency might have taken place back home and family members might need to let the traveler know. If an emergency happens, or if any problems arise while traveling internationally, the closest U.S. embassy is often the only source for help or information.
Most international travelers probably know that a U.S. embassy exist in every country in the world in order to contact in an emergency, however international travelers might not know of a relatively recent program which was established by the US State Department for U.S. travelers overseas. This new program goes by the anachronism STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program). STEP is an easy online registration process that will help any American out immensely in case they run into an emergency when living overseas or traveling internationally. Travelers simply register online before their trip and inform the U.S. State Department about their upcoming trip. Doing so will help the embassy locate travelers and assist them if they run into any problems while in a foreign country.
STEP is not necessarily a new program. It was previously called the “Registration with Embassies Program.” The program was renamed to STEP with the thought that a catchier name would inspire more travelers to register when traveling overseas in order to allow embassies provide them with assistance if they need it. Travelers simply create an account and let consulates know if they are visiting a particular country. This makes it far easier for travelers to be helped in case of an emergency problem. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is provided by the U.S. Government completely free of charge to U.S. citizens who plan on traveling to a foreign country. The STEP program simply gives travelers the ability to give the U.S. State Department information about their upcoming international vacation so embassies or consulates in whatever country will be aware of their presence in the country and location should they need help or assistance.
The Safe Traveler Enrollment Program also provides foreign travelers with important automatic security and safety. This is invaluable, as it makes travelers aware of any recent safety concerns of visiting the particular chosen country or region. Registration in the STEP program gives a traveler the ability to enter general details about their upcoming international trip. In doing so the State Department will be able to contact them in case of any emergency that may arise. The general information a traveler enters into the STEP program allow for officers in U.S. embassies throughout the world to easily get in touch with the traveler and their family members during an emergency. This includes relaying messages from the travelers’ family in the U.S. who may be unable to contact the person directly. The STEP program also gives Americans who are living abroad important up to date information regarding changing security environments within the country of current residence.
Registering with the STEP program is an easy process. Travelers only sign up once, and then add or delete trips from their traveler’s account. It is a completely voluntary and free program to encourage international travelers to be as safe as possible while overseas.
Many people never experience any problems while traveling abroad, however others occasionally do. It is recommended that travelers be better safe than sorry and sign up for the STEP program if an international trip is in their near future.