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Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) - Anyone Tried This?

The US State Department on website: suggest that US citizens sign up for their Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) program. Anyone tried this? It is suppose to help them locate you in case of an emergency like political unrest or natural disasters. I think many of us worry about losing more of our privacy, but it also seem to make sense, too. Thanks for any input or thoughts. Dee

Posted by
6032 posts

It can be useful depending on where you are going. My daughter signed up for it when she was just in Ukraine so it would keep her updated on the current status of the unrest there. If you're in a dicey area and may possibly need State Dept help in an emergency situation it would be good for them to know you're there. Other than that I guess it just makes some people more comfortable.

Posted by
8906 posts

I enrolled in it for a trip last January to China & North Korea, and there is a good chance it saved my life!
Back in January Beijing suffered record breaking smog levels. Because I enrolled in the program, I received an email from the Beijing Embassy advising US citizens to stay indoors until the smog lifted. I have asthma and it's usually under control with medication, but I was struggling to breath even inside my modern five-star hotel with a state of the art air-conditioning/heating system. Had it not been for the warning I would have ventured outside for a bit of sightseeing, and no doubt had serious breathing problems that my rescue inhaler wouldn't have provided any relief.

I've been to Beijing three times before and endured moderate smog levels on past trips with no breathing problems, but this something I hadn't experienced previously.

I have never enrolled in it my trips to Europe, but after this experience I will use it everywhere.

Posted by
10894 posts

I am enrolled too but I never had to benefit from it..............fortunately. As for privacy, most Americans born after 1982 were secretly fitted with intracranial tracking devices upon birth. So nothing much matters any longer.

A government program that is worth the effort and has saved us on a couple of occasions is Global Entry. Could not have made a couple of flights or would have been worn out from the running had we not had Global Entry. No tracking implants required.

Posted by
2081 posts


If im dead, it wont matter.

If im injured, how can the US help? Maybe send me a "get well soon card". chance are if its a natural or not disaster, there not much anyone outside of the area can do for a while. It take time for ANYONE to mobilize, even the USA armed forces.

If anything does happens, youre usually on your own unless youre the 1% and chances are i will be seeking out the closest embassy or transportation to get the heck out of Dodge.

i usually stay away from places that dont care to deal with the USA, it govmt or people.

Happy trails.

Posted by
4947 posts

Its supposed to be for situations like the tsunami in Thailand, where your family would kind of like to know if you turn up dead or in a hospital somewhere. And they will expect the US Gov to look for you. As far as privacy, the gov knows your passport number already.

Posted by
1085 posts

I enrolled when I went to Cuba last year. I probably would update them if I were planning on a trip to the Ukraine or Russia right now, but otherwise, I don't know how often I will use it.

Posted by
2081 posts

"Posted by stan
Kansas City, Missouri
Posts: 176
03/18/14 05:57 PM

Its supposed to be for situations like the tsunami in Thailand, where your family would kind of like to know if you turn up dead or in a hospital somewhere. And they will expect the US Gov to look for you. As far as privacy, the gov knows your passport number already."

again, if im dead, im not in a position to care.

if im alive, mobile i will be seeking out some people. There will probably be NGOs all over the place. Maybe Ham radio operators, and people with some type of communications.

its just a matter of time. if the place has been wiped out, whats the chances youre going to have alot of time to look for some communications? alot.

worse case, wait for the news crews to arrive and pop up behind the news person on camera.

happy trails.

Posted by
13930 posts

I guess because I get my passport renewals here in Tel Aviv, I am on the embassy's email list. Anyway, I get their email "alerts" and they are always way overblown. Getting such warnings while traveling could be really scary when in fact there's nothing to worry about. It's also been my experience that the U.S. embassies and consulates are not very helpful, albeit I've never been in need of evacuation.

I wouldn't worry about privacy . . . unless you think the feds may be looking for you. . . .

Posted by
9110 posts

If'n you need email to tell you those are corpses you're stepping over.......

The consulates don't send out a DSS squad to fetch you back to a safe haven.

Having been involved in some of the doozies and having studied most of the others, I'll offer that they all start from either the embassy or (less frequently) some other major collecting point.

You can buy half of the chicken by signing up for alerts and warnings, but local broadcasts and print media are more realistic and timely. State barks on the side of cover-your-butt caution and just as often misses the boat.

PreCheck and Global Entry, on the other hand, are time-savers.

Posted by
10894 posts

Is this really an argument about the value of something provided in return for nothing paid? What I do is when I arrive in a new country or city I make a phone call home. That way no matter what happens my friends, relatives and the NSA know where I am.