Understanding the STEP Program - Enrollment Information and Why You Need It Before Your Next International Trip
When traveling, an added sense of security never hurt anyone. It’s one of the reasons we sell travel insurance. Peace of mind just helps one get into vacation mode that much more easily.
We want less to worry about. The STEP program is one more way to have added peace of mind. But, what is STEP and why and how should you enroll in it?
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program or STEP, is the free service created by the Bureau of Consular Affairs in the U.S. Department of State that allows United States citizens, as well as, nationals traveling and/or living abroad to enroll their travel with the nearest U.S. Embassy of Consulate.
Now, you might be wondering why you would want to take this step of enrolling in, well, STEP. By enrolling in the program you enjoy the following benefits:
If you are traveling with your family or a large group, you can designate one person to enroll your trip in the program, and then list the other people traveling with you in the "accompanying travelers" section of your sign-up form. *Note: The STEP program recommends that each adult traveler enroll separately if you will not be together the entire time - for example, if you have different itineraries or different departure/arrival dates.
Won’t the Embassy or Consulate Help Me in An Emergency?
While the STEP program acknowledges an Embassy or Consulate will try to aid U.S. Citizens in the event of an emergency, they also stated “ it is much easier for us to assist travelers who have previously enrolled their trip information with us.”
Furthermore, if you have not enrolled prior to your departure they stated, “we will not be able to proactively contact you if the Embassy or Consulate has important information about safety or security conditions in the area you are traveling.”
How To Enroll in STEP.
To enroll in STEP, head to https://step.state.gov/step/ and click the “Create Account” button at the top of the page. Follow the prompts to sign up. Note: The form currently does not require your Passport number. However, if you have one, I would strongly suggest adding it so that it’s that much easier to assist you in the event the Embassy/Consulate needs to get a hold of you.
Another important tip is to make sure your emergency contact information is as accurate as possible. Keep in mind that if you add a cell phone of someone you are traveling with, they might not be reachable in foreign countries without an international phone service plan. The more information you can give, the better. Alternative contacts and methods of communication can be the difference between you being reached and missing important information.
Finally, enroll your trip as soon as you have it booked. The sooner you enroll, the more time you have to ensure that your information is processed in time, and that there are no errors.
To read answers to the most frequently asked questions about the program, click here.
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