Wednesday, October 6, 2010
* Register so the State Department can better assist you in an emergency: Register your travel plans with the State Department. This will help them contact you if there is a family emergency in the U.S., or if there is a crisis where you are traveling. In accordance with the Privacy Act, information on your welfare and whereabouts will not be released to others without your express authorization.
* Sign passport, and fill in the emergency information: Make sure you have a signed, valid passport, and a visa, if required, and fill in the emergency information page of your passport.
* Leave copies of itinerary and passport data page: Leave copies of your itinerary, passport data page and visas with family or friends, so you can be contacted in case of an emergency. Keep an extra color copy of your passport and visa and stick it in your wallet. Secure your passport in the hotel safe and carry the copy wherever you go.
* Check your overseas medical insurance coverage: Ask your medical insurance company if your policy applies overseas, and if it covers emergency expenses such as medical evacuation. If it does not, consider supplemental insurance.
* Familiarize yourself with local conditions and laws: While in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws. Laws in other countries may be stricter than at your home country. Learn the laws before you go. Regardless of what country you are visiting; do not get involved in drugs.
* Take precautions to avoid being a target of crime: To avoid being a target of crime, do not wear conspicuous clothing or jewelry and do not carry excessive amounts of money. Also, do not leave unattended luggage in public areas and do not accept packages from strangers.
* Contact the embassy in an emergency: Consular personnel at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad and in the U.S. are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide emergency assistance to U.S. citizens. The Office of Overseas Citizen Services in the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs may be reached for assistance with emergencies at 1-888-407-4747, if calling from the U.S. or Canada, or 202-501-4444, if calling from overseas.
Prior planning will prevent future problems. It only takes a few minutes to register online, copy your passport, and check the local laws. It may save you minor aggravation or possibly time behind bars.