From James Tichacek’s Veteran's RAO Bulletin
Source: Margarita Station Angeles City News JUL 2004 and the U. S. State Department
Millions of Americans travel abroad every year and encounter no difficulties. However, U.S. embassies and consulates assist nearly 200,000 Americans each year who are victims of crime, accident, or illness, or whose family and friends need to contact them in an emergency.
When an emergency happens, or if natural disaster, terrorism, or civil unrest strikes during your foreign travel, the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate can be your source of assistance and information.
By registering your trip, you help the embassy or consulate locate you when you might need them the most. Registration is voluntary but it should be a part of your travel planning and security. This free service is available to U.S. citizens who are traveling to or living in a foreign country. Such registration allows you to record information about your upcoming trip abroad that the Department of State can use to assist you in case of an emergency.
Registration on the website is NOT considered proof of U.S. citizenship. If you apply for any American citizen services from the embassy or consulate while abroad, you will be asked by the consular staff to provide proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a U.S. passport or American birth certificate. Registration on line can be accomplished at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/home.asp. If desired, you can create a password and update personal information on this website at any time. All personal information you provide is secure and protected by the Privacy Act of 1974.
When registering you have the option of selecting:
Short Term Traveler: Tourists and business travelers are examples of those who select the short-term option. If you are traveling outside the United States and plan to return after a brief time (usually less than six months), you should select this option. While you travel, your information will be available to U.S. consular officers should they need to contact or locate you.
Long-Term Traveler/Overseas Resident: If you reside in a foreign country, or will stay in a foreign country for an extended time period, you should select the long-term option. If you make frequent trips to the same country, you may also wish to use the long-term option. Long-term travelers and overseas residents have their information registered directly at the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest their foreign residence or travel destination. You may add information about travel companions or members of your household, as well as your business address and additional ways to contact you. This will help consular officers provide you with emergency and routine services. U.S embassies and consulates often distribute important security information to Americans residing in their regions.
Travel Agent or Organizational Representative: If you are organizing a trip for other travelers and are not traveling yourself, your organization's information should be registered.
While American travelers are abroad, U.S. consular officers can assist those who encounter serious legal, medical, or financial difficulties. Although consular officers cannot act as your legal counsel or representative, they can provide the names of local attorneys and doctors, provide loans to destitute Americans, and provide information about dangerous conditions affecting your overseas travel or residence.
Consular officers also perform non-emergency services, helping Americans with absentee voting, Selective Service registration, receiving federal benefits, and filing U.S. tax forms. They can notarize documents, issue passports, and register American children born abroad. Most embassies and consulates have web sites with more information.
It is not necessary to register, however, to get travel information from the Department of State. Log on to http://travel.state.gov/ for a current listing of all travel warnings, public announcements, and consular information sheets as well as additional information and services.