Once you have booked a flight and hotel, hired a car, verified for passport and visa, and purchased travelers insurance for your overseas holiday, you would think that they only thing you have left to do is pack your bags and get to the airport on time. There is one more thing to do however; it is in your best interest to register your travel plans with the government for your home country. In the event there is an emergency at home or you encounter a crisis abroad, registering your travel plans with the government of your home country can provide you with vital information and resources needed in the event of unforeseen circumstances.
The Chances of Trouble Are Low
They majority of overseas traveler do not have any problems during their trips, but with the increased frequency of extreme weather events and unexpected incidents of civil unrest, knowing that you have the resources of your home country can give you peace of mind. Moreover, if you have a family member who is experiencing health issues, registering with the home country gives people back at home the mean to contact you. Having the knowledge you will be contacted if there is a family emergency will allow you to relax and enjoy your holiday.
Some of the reasons the embassy or consulate might contact you include:
- There is a natural disaster in the country where you are visiting
- Civil unrest or conflict breaks out in where you are staying abroad.
- There is a worldwide disruption of travel, such as when Super Storm Sandy hit the east coast of the United States or when the volcano erupted in Iceland.
- There are urgent travel advisories issued for the country or region in which you are visiting.
- A family member is in a crisis situation or has a medical emergency.
Your Privacy is Protected When You Register Your Travel Plans
Before you register you travel plans voluntarily with your home country, you will be advised of the privacy policies of the government agency who is handling your registration. Most state that the only time they will use your information is in the event there is a crisis or emergency in the country you are visiting or with your family at home. All communication with you will be handled through your country's embassy or consulate in the country in which are visiting. Additionally, your information will only be provided to those whom you have given permission to receive it.
Where to Register Your Travel Plans
When registering your travel plans, usually you will need to contact the government agency that handles foreign affairs in your country.
Here are some of the countries that offer services for travelers to register your travel plans:
United States: People who are citizens of the United States should register in the Smart Travelers Program [https://step.state.gov/step/] to provide the U.S. State Department the information needed to contact you in the event of an emergency. If they need to contact you overseas, the contact will be initiated through the Office of Overseas Citizens Services and the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country in which you are visiting will make the actual contact with you.
New Zealand: Citizens of New Zealand can register their travel information through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade at this Safe Travel website [https://register.safetravel.govt.nz/kos/kos.aspx]. New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade provides citizens with extensive overseas travel guidance here [http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/beforeugo/index.shtml].
United Kingdom: The Foreign and Commonwealth Services Office (FCO) provides traveler registration services, as well as tips and guidance, at this website
Australia: Australian citizens can register their travel plans online at the website for the Safe Traveller program [https://www.orao.dfat.gov.au/orao/weborao.nsf/Homeform?Openform]. This program is offered by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Canada: Canadian citizens can register their travel itineraries through the Office of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. The website offering online registration is here [https://www.voyage2.gc.ca/registration_inscription/olrportal-eng.aspx] and the site includes the contact information for travelers who wish to register by phone or by fax.
Singapore: Citizens of Singapore can register their travel itineraries with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs e-Registration website [https://eregister.mfa.gov.sg/eregisterportal/common/preLoginEregisterView.action], which offers the option to register as an individual or as a group.
The information needed to register your travel plans if you are a citizen of a country not listed above, contact your government's department of foreign affairs or diplomatic relations.
Services Offered by Embassies and Consulates
Some of the services offered by embassies and consulate include the following:
- While they will advise you as to the need to leave a country in the event of a crisis situation, they will not always have the resources to arrange for transportation either in the country or back to your home country.
- They can provide assistance in the event you are detained or arrested when you are abroad.
- They can help with replacing lost or stolen passports.
- They can provide you information about medical services in the country and provide contact information.
- Provide assistance in the event you are a victim of crime.
While embassies and consulates can serve as a point of contact with your home country, they are limited in the services they can provide. It is essential to have travel insurance and to check with your airline in the event you need to leave the country quickly. It is important to remember that it is rare for people to have any issues when they travel overseas, but it is wise to plan for the few unforeseen circumstances.
Gemma Hobbs is an avid blogger with extensive experience as a travel consultant. She far too often sees travelers get into trouble overseas because of lack of correct information. She enjoys sharing her insights on various blogs. Visit Expedia.com.au for more travel information.