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WWW.Huh?: Web Site Features Overseas Travel Info

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 7, 2000 – Whether you're traveling to central London or the African plains this summer, you may want to check the travel section on the State Department Web site home page.

International travel information is available at www.state.gov/www/services.html. The site provides health and safety information as well as host nation travel rules and regulations. It offers advice on what to take, what to leave home and how to ensure you have a safe journey.

State Department officials issue travel warnings whenever they think Americans should avoid a certain country. A Worldwide Caution, for example, was recently posted noting the March 24 anniversary of NATO military action in Kosovo. Officials advised U.S. citizens traveling or residing abroad to exercise appropriate caution and to avoid large crowds or gatherings, given the possibility of pro-Serbian demonstrations.

Public announcements are posted about terrorism and other relatively short-term or transnational conditions posing threats to Americans. In the past, the department has issued warnings about bomb threats to airlines, terrorist violence and anniversary dates of specific terrorist events.

U.S. embassies and consular offices are located in more than 250 countries around the world. They produce consular information sheets about each country. These can be found on the Web site by clicking on the Travel Warning heading and scrolling down the alphabetical list.

The information sheets on everywhere from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe include the location of the U.S. embassy or consulate, immigration practices, health conditions, currency and entry regulations, crime and security information, health assistance, traffic safety and drug penalties.

Keep in mind, State Department officials advised, U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs in many countries are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

The Web site also includes a list of travel publications available on the Internet or in hard copy for about $1 to $1.50 by mail. Titles include "A Safe Trip Abroad," "Tips for Older Americans," and "Passports: Applying for Them the Easy Way." Other Internet Web sites featuring information on U.S. government services and a host of international destinations are also listed.

The travel section cites services offered by U.S. consular sections overseas. These include helping travelers replace a passport, find medical or legal assistance and obtain funds from back home.

If your family needs to reach you while you're overseas, for example, they can contact the State Department's Citizens Services at 202-647-5225. Their emergency after hours and weekend phone number is 202-647-4000. State officials will relay the message to consular officers in the country where you are traveling and they will attempt to locate you.

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