Sunday, July 12, 2009

Consular Registration

When travelling in high risk countries, or when staying for an extended period in a foreign country letting your embassy or consulate know where you are is a great idea. Citizens of a number of countries are able to register with their consulates online, a quick and easy process which gives the authorities a fighting chance to contact you should that be necessary.

We have links to a number of these consular registration services for citizens of various countries on the MyRedFlare website. These are free services offered by governments for their citizens.

Why do this? Sometimes your consulate may want to contact you to advise of a family emergency back home. Sometimes, if the security situation in the country you are travelling in changes significantly for the worse, they may try to get in touch with you to confirm your safety. All in all, letting them know where and when you are is fabulous safety tip, and something we highly recommend.

I was recently advised by Smartraveller (the Australian Government's travel advisory and consular assistance service) that the consular registration service that they offer is, to some extent, constrained by privacy laws. This means that they can use information that you have provided to contact you but they may not be able to provide that information to anyone else.

So, while such registration is a great idea and something which can only enhance your safety, it will not necessarily provide information about you to your friends and family.

In that context I see our Sarwatch service as being complimentary to consular registration, rather than as a replacement. By providing regular location updates and using our MyRedFlare system you will be providing the most up-to-date location information possible to your friends and family. If anything should happen to you when you travel they are immediately "in-the-loop" and are able to contact their consulate on your behalf. This will compliment any information you have provided to your consulate, and also performs the vital step of raising the alarm. After all, no one will start looking for you until someone raises an alarm.

I have no hesitation in recommending that you register with your embassy or consulate, particularly for elevated risk destinations. MyRedFlare's Sarwatch service, while having some similarities to consular registration, is subtly different in that it is able to keep your friends and family involved. They, after all, are the ones who will move heaven and earth to find you should the need arise.

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