Preparedness of American Citizens Living Abroad
Among the highest priorities of the Department of State and our missions abroad is the safety and security of locally-resident Americans overseas. In the past year, the Department has intervened to assist in the evacuation of Americans from half a dozen countries throughout the world as a result of serious political or economic unrest, natural disasters, and terrorist attacks. Hundreds of expatriate Americans each year are forced by personal emergencies (e.g. death or illness in the family) to return to the U.S. on short notice. Evacuations, especially under crisis conditions, are inevitably very disruptive and distressing for those involved.
The State Department routinely provides standard advice to its employees on prudent steps to take to ensure they would be prepared in the event of such an evacuation. This and other advice on crisis preparedness is available on the U.S. Department of State website at http://travel.state.gov, which is summarized below.
The Department commends these elementary steps to you for your careful consideration.
- Assemble all vital documents such as passports, birth and marriage records, vaccination, insurance and bank records in one readily accessible location;
- Check to be sure your passport and any necessary visas are valid and that you are registered at the Embassy/Consulate with your current address and phone number. If you need to obtain a new passport or to update your registration, please do so at the Embassy as soon as possible (fill in the times and days).
- Visa processing can take several weeks. Immediate family members should keep their U.S. visas current and apply for visas with as much time in advance of planned travel as possible.
- Make or update as necessary a complete inventory of your household effects, in duplicate.
- Maintain an adequate supply of food, water, and necessary medications in your home. Make sure your car is in good working order. Keep the gas tank full and check oil, coolant, tires, and battery.
- We do not want American citizens to become unduly alarmed. These are precautionary measures only. Given the potential for acts of violence, terrorism, or anti-American demonstrations, we believe it is important for all citizens to maintain readiness for all possibilities in case of an emergency. We will promptly inform you of any significant developments and advise you accordingly.
The Department of State encourages all American citizens residing abroad to register their presence and obtain up-to-date information on security conditions at the nearest American Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website. Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency and enable you to receive up-to-date information on security conditions. Create an account and you”ll be able to return to the registration web site at any time to update your permanent residence and contact information. In accordance with the Privacy Act, information on your welfare or whereabouts may not be released to inquirers without your expressed written authorizations. Registration through the web site is not considered proof of citizenship. You many want to keep numbers or copies of your passport or other citizenship documents with a friend or relative in case of emergency.