DEFINITION of Smart Traveler Enrollment Program

The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program is a service that allows travelers to register their trip with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service offered by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs to U.S. citizens and nationals traveling out of the country. The program provides enrollees with important safety and security information and updates from the embassy about safety conditions in their destination country. It also helps the U.S. embassy, friends and family contact enrollees in case of an emergency, such as natural disaster, civil unrest or family emergency.

BREAKING DOWN Smart Traveler Enrollment Program

Infrequent travelers can enroll a single trip on the STEP homepage by clicking the “TRAVELING? Enroll a trip” option. Those who travel often can create an account by clicking the “FREQUENT TRAVELER? Create an account” option. An account allows travelers to quickly modify their travel information and enroll additional trips in the future. A large group of travelers can be enrolled by selecting the “Create Organization/Group Account” option at the bottom of the homepage.

Travel Warnings and Alerts

All travelers can access the travel warnings and alerts issued by the U.S. Department of State. Travelers to any destination should check for notices before leaving the country and while abroad, if possible. Travelers do not have to enroll in the STEP program to get assistance while abroad; however, the U.S. Department of State advises that it is unable to proactively contact travelers who are not enrolled if its embassy or consulate has important information about local safety or security conditions. In addition to these travel warnings and alerts, U.S. embassies and consulates may send out specific messages that include safety, security and practical information for that locale; however, only travelers who are enrolled in STEP will receive these messages.

Travel warnings are used to recommend postponing travel due to ongoing civil unrest, dangerous conditions or terrorist activity – or in situations where the U.S. has no diplomatic relations with a country, which could make it difficult to provide assistance to U.S. citizens. Travel alerts are issued for short-term, abrupt events that could pose risks to travelers and affect their plans. Examples include strikes, demonstrations, health alerts or confirmation of an elevated risk of terrorist attacks.

Travel Advisories

As a first step in planning any trip abroad, check the Travel Advisories for your intended destination. You can see the world at a glance on our color-coded map.

Note that conditions can change rapidly in a country at any time. To receive updated Travel Advisories and Alerts, choose the method that works best for you at travel.state.gov/stayingconnected.