U.S. travelers receive their passports and vital travel information from the Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State. Their mission is to protect the lives and interests of American citizens abroad and enforce and issue visas and passports.
What is the State Department’s role in a crisis?
The U.S. State Department has a very specific role when an overseas crisis occurs, and the actions they take depend on the nature of the crisis. Their actions may come in the form of warnings and advice, or in more serious situations, a recommendation to leave the foreign country. If commercial transportation is not available to U.S. citizens abroad in a crisis zone, the U.S. State Department may provide departure assistance depending on current access to resources.
How do travelers stay informed of crises?
Travelers who are going abroad (especially those who will be gone for a significant amount of time) are encouraged to monitor the travel.state.gov website for updates as this, in addition to social and traditional media, is the primary tool for information dissemination.
Another option has also been implemented, and this is called the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This program, which was formerly known as ‘travel registration’ or ‘registration with embassies’, is designed so that travelers can manage their travel itineraries and receive updates – including U.S. travel warnings and travel alerts – about where they are traveling.