The number one mission of the Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) is to protect the lives and safety of U.S. citizens traveling or living overseas.
International travel can be educational, uplifting, and empowering. The Department of State enthusiastically supports U.S. citizens exploring the world and we have resources to help you do so safely.
There are specific planning steps you as a woman can take to enjoy your trip, and be safe. When traveling overseas, remember to take the same precautions as if you were traveling in the United States. As a U.S. citizen and a woman traveling in a foreign country, you may already stand out: use discretion when moving from place to place; be aware of your surroundings; and be cautious when sharing information about your plans and itinerary with strangers. It is equally important for all travelers to understand the cultural norms of the country they will be visiting. Pay attention to local laws and customs, as they can be quite different than in the United States -- especially if you intend to travel alone.
Research information about where you are going before you go and think about how you will be traveling. Look up the address and emergency contact number of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate and carry it with you at all times. You can find the contact information for all U.S. embassies and consulates here. We have duty officers available 24/7 to assist U.S. citizens who have emergencies or who are victims of crime.
If so, who knows where you will be? You can let the Embassy know your travel plans by enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP allows U.S. citizens traveling or residing abroad to get routine and emergency information from the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Enrollment can also help the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest you to help you in an emergency. Be sure to update your STEP profile to reflect your in-country contact number if you have one. Download our free Smart Traveler app, available through iTunes or the Google Play store, for travel information at your fingertips.
Check out our Country Specific Information, available for every country in the world, for information on a variety of matters about the country you will be visiting. The Special Circumstances section for each country will contain any relevant information about attitudes, local laws, and customs regarding women. For example, what you wear on the beach in Mexico might not be acceptable in a temple in Thailand.
The Department of State has information dedicated to studying abroad. Remember, in some places, students can be potential targets for pick-pockets or harassment. Research and plan ahead to keep yourself safe.
The safety of public transportation varies from country to country. In many places, informal taxis or mini-buses pose undue threats to people unfamiliar with the local conditions, especially women traveling alone. Find out what is safe and what is not before you go. Our Country Specific Information will give guidance on avoiding unsafe transport.
Check the expiration date of everyone’s passport. Children’s passports usually expire after five years and adult passports after ten years. Find specific information regarding applying for and renewing U.S. passports for children by visiting the Passport Office’s website. Know the unique travel document requirements for the country you are visiting, including passport expiration dates and immigration entry and exit requirements, such as visas. Some countries require additional documentation from your spouse or other guardians of children.
If residing abroad, understand what that means for you and your family. All U.S. citizens overseas, whether traveling or residing abroad, are subject to the criminal and civil laws of that country.
The American Citizens Services Section of the U.S. embassy or consulate may be able to help you, especially if you feel you can’t approach the local police or encounter difficulties with local authorities. Consular officers will protect your privacy, and will not make generalizations, assumptions, or pass judgement. Also, consular officers may be able to assist you if there is a language barrier. Both the Smart Traveler App and the Country Specific Information pages have the phone number and address of the U.S. embassy or consulate so you can contact us 24/7 in an emergency.
The State Department is committed to assisting U.S. citizens who become victims of crime while traveling abroad. Consular staff at our embassies and consulates can provide information about the country’s criminal justice system, including how to file a police report or access medical services, as well as information about other available resources. Please visit our U.S. Citizens Victims of Crime webpage for more information.
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