Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
While attending a travel show recently, I had the chance to speak with some TSA agents and officials from the US Department of State. Several programs were mentioned including TSA PreCheck, Global Entry and STEP, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. We have discussed the benefits of TSA PreCheck before and will address Global Entry in another post. I’ll admit that I was only vaguely aware of the STEP program up until recently and it deserves a look. This program is something that is a great tool for travelers to use, and it’s important to get the word out to the public. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program allows U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to register their travel with the closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. This is important so that you can receive pertinent information from the Embassy about your destination country which will help you be an informed traveler. This free program will also allow the Consulate or Embassy to reach you in the event of an emergency which could include natural disasters, civil unrest or other sorts of issues. Additionally, your family will have another means to contact you in the event of an emergency. Other reasons why enrolling is helpful include assistance if your passport is lost or stolen, guide you to English-speaking physicians and attorneys if needed and provide monetary loans to citizens in the event of an emergency. Consulates and Embassies can also assist in registering children born to U.S. citizens living abroad and notarizing documents. If you’re traveling at a later date, you can sign up for emailed updates on conditions pertaining to your specific destinations. You will receive updates and any travel warnings as they are issued by the State Department. Frequent travelers can create an account, thus being able to register your trips more quickly. If you do not travel often, you can just register your individual trip. Those traveling with their immediate families can add those people as accompanying travelers. If you are in another group, such as friends, each adult should enroll on their own. For additional information on the STEP program, and to enroll your trip, visit https://step.state.gov/STEP/Index.aspx.