The U.S. Department of State takes the safety of its citizens very seriously and has instituted a Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to better track citizens traveling or living abroad. By informing the State Department of your travel plans, you put yourself in a safer position should an emergency occur.
You may have heard of STEP, but under a different name. It was previously entitled the Registration with Embassies program, and the name was changed in an effort to encourage more U.S. citizens to register with prior to leaving the country. If you utilized the Registration with Embassies program in the past, all of your information is still saved within the new system.
To enroll in the STEP program, you must first log on to the website and create an account if you don’t have one already. Then you’ll provide personal contact information as well as an emergency contact. Finally, you’ll enter your exact travel plans where you should enter as many details as possible. Be thorough in entering the addresses of any and all destinations where you’ll be staying.
The advantage of enrolling in the STEP program is assistance from U.S. consular officers in the wake of serious legal, health or financial problems. While the consular officers cannot always provide direct assistance, they can at the very least provide names of local attorneys and doctors that are suitable for the situation.
The STEP program was designed to work in truly emergency situations so you’ll still have to protect yourself from more common issues such as petty theft and location-specific diseases.
Other countries have similar programs. Check with your country's foreign department.