Tuesday, April 21, 2009

U.S. Expat Registration

Registering with the local U.S. consulate is a task every expatriate should do. I have been thinking and forgetting to do so for months now. It came to mind last night and I made a point to pull up the U.S. State Dept. website and complete their information request on behalf of myself and my partner, Eric. Visit the website if you haven't. There are several legitimate reasons to shout out to your government where beyond the U.S. border you are traveling or residing and for what duration.

All of this had me thinking about the protections granted the citizens of Rome when traveling. Apparently one needed only to announce that they were a Roman citizen when traveling to guarantee their own safety. No one dare cause a citizen of the Empire (Republic?) harm least a legion of Roman soldiers arrive to raze the hamlet or teach proper respect to the offending kingdom. Or so the story goes.

While not expecting an army sent to defend me or inflict punitive damages on those who dare to offend, the consulate is indeed there to help with unexpected and possibly serious concerns. They have even listed on the website the most commonly presented expat life challenges recognized as their usual day at the office.

So if you are an expat and haven't yet introduced yourself to your local consulate, consider doing so. Once you have completed the original series of information requests, there will be a box at the bottom which reads "add a foreign address" or something like that. If you are living outside the U.S. this would be the place to state where and for how long. One person can do this for all fellow travelers and/or relatives residing with them. Detailed passport information will be required.

Relationship status information is done by way of pull-down boxes.  They need to be updated as four states now allow same-gender marriage. While the U.S. federal government may not, as yet, recognize such marriages, I invite anyone concerned, straight or gay, to use the "comment" sections provided to question the state department's lack of comprehensive relationship categories. 



Anonymous said...

I have been in Canada for 7 years and still hasn't registered at the French embassy. Silly reason: only the consulate can do it and it's in Toronto and opens from 9:30 to 9:35 on even days only (I may exaggerate the last part ;) ).

laura k said...

Hm, I don't get it. Why would I want to do this?

Adam said...

As mentioned, there are several reasons listed on the consulate website. Of course, here in Canada we have no practical reason to fear for our immediate safety in regards to an unstable government (all Harper jokes aside). In any case, no one I am currently in contact with is yet a Canadian citizen, though a couple of you are in the process (yippee for you!). Whether you like it or not, your gov't (U.S. in most cases) *will* "go to bat" or "cover your behind." And, gods forbid a tragedy should befall you...the consulate is a resource, pure and simple. And one never knows when one will need to avail that safety net.

laura k said...

I guess you trust the US a lot more than I do. I wouldn't ask them for anything and wouldn't expect them to help me. I'm not a Cdn citizen yet, and it could be another year or more until I am. But I would never dream of registering with the US consulate, for any reason. But hey, it sounds painless for you, so more power to you.