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U.S. Citizen Services

Travel Advice for American Citizens

A Worldwide Caution has been issued to American citizens traveling and residing abroad.

The Department of State routinely issues advice regarding countries where conditions are such that U.S. citizens are encouraged to reconsider their travel. Travel Warnings provide advice on long-term issues, while Travel Alerts address short-term issues. U.S. citizens resident in Australia are also encouraged to review our Disaster Preparedness information

Country Specific Information is also made available for every country, including information such as the location of U.S. Embassies and Consulates, immigration practices, health conditions, minor political disturbances, currency, crime and security information.

Register Your Travel Abroad

U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad are encouraged to sign up to the Smart Traveler Enrolment Program (STEP) to receive updated information on travel and security, and make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to make contact in an emergency.

Messages to U.S. Citizens

Messages to U.S. citizens are important information regarding travel and security in Australia which is distributed to U.S. citizens who have signed up to the Smart Traveler Enrolment Program (STEP). The following are the latest messages for Australia.

  • VOTING: July 4th Voting Message - June 2014

    VOTING: July 4th Voting Message - June 2014

    • Celebrate democracy this 4th of July by taking the necessary steps to vote in the 2014 U.S. elections!

      In order to vote in the November 2014 elections, all overseas U.S. citizens need to have completed a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) in 2014.  Whether you are a first-time voter or have already received ballots and voted absentee in past elections, you must complete an FPCA each year to participate in elections as an overseas absentee voter. 

      You can always get voting assistance from the U.S. Consulate General in Sydney or drop off your completed voting forms and ballots, addressed to your local election officials, during the following hours:  Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. until 11:30 a.m.  Normal transit time from Sydney to the United States is 10 to 15 days.

      If you have never voted while overseas before, the process is easy ­-- just follow these steps:


      1.   
      Complete a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA)

      Whether you are a first-time voter or have voted absentee in past elections, complete an FPCA to receive your ballot this fall.  It allows you to register to vote and request absentee ballots for all elections for federal offices (presidential and state primaries, run-off, special, and the November general elections) during the course of the year in which you submit the FPCA.  Local election officials in all U.S. states and territories accept the FPCA.

      The online voting assistant available at FVAP.gov is an easy way to complete the FPCA.  It will ask you questions specific to your state and tell you if electronic ballot delivery is possible.  No matter which state you vote in, we encourage you to ask your local election officials to deliver your blank ballots to you electronically (by email, internet download, or fax, depending on your state).  Be sure to include your email address to take advantage of electronic delivery.  The online voting assistant will generate a printable FPCA, which you can then print and sign.


      2. 
      Submit the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA)

      See the information at the beginning of this message for options to drop off your FPCA in person to the U.S. Consulate General in Sydney. 

      If it’s more convenient for you, you can have a friend or family member drop off your FPCA to the U.S. Consulate on your behalf or you can send your FPCA or ballot directly to your local election officials via international mail or professional courier service at your own expense. 


      3.   
      Receive Your Ballot

      After submitting your FPCA, most states allow you to confirm online your registration and ballot delivery selection.  States are now required to send out ballots 45 days before an election for federal office (President, U.S. Senate, or U.S. House of Representatives) to any overseas U.S. citizen who has completed an FPCA. 



      4.   
      Return Your Ballot

      As with the FPCA, you can return your voted ballot to your local election officials free of charge via the nearest embassy or consulate or mail it directly at your own expense.

       

      Your Vote Counts

      Many U.S. elections within the past ten years have been decided by a margin of victory of less than 0.1%.  All states are required to count every absentee ballot as long as it is valid and reaches local election officials by the absentee ballot receipt deadline (differs by state). 

      Be an educated voter.  Check out the FVAP links page for helpful resources that will aid your research of candidates and issues.  Non-partisan information about candidates, their voting records, and their positions on issues is widely available and easy to obtain via numerous websites such as Project Smart Voter.  You can also read national and hometown newspapers online, and search the Internet to locate articles and information. 

      To receive information by email about election dates and deadlines, subscribe to FVAP's Voting Alerts (vote@fvap.gov).  FVAP also shares Voting Alerts via Facebook and Twitter.

      If you have any questions about registering to vote overseas, please contact the U.S. Consulate’s Voting Assistance Officer at +61-2-9373-9200 (between 1:30-3:30 p.m. on regular business days) or at voteSydney@state.gov.

  • Worldwide Caution - April 2014

    Worldwide Caution - April 2014

    • The Department of State has issued this Worldwide Caution to update information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world. U.S. citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. This replaces the Worldwide Caution dated September 25, 2013, to provide updated information on security threats and terrorist activities worldwide.
       
      The Department of State remains concerned about the continued threat of terrorist attacks, demonstrations, and other violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests overseas. Kidnappings and hostage events involving U.S. citizens have become increasingly prevalent as al Qa`ida and its affiliates have increased attempts to finance their operations through kidnapping for ransom operations. Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) are particularly effective with kidnapping for ransom and are using ransom money to fund the range of their activities. Kidnapping targets are usually Western citizens from governments or third parties that have established a pattern of paying ransoms for the release of individuals in custody. Current information suggests that al-Qa'ida, its affiliated organizations, and other terrorist groups continue to plan and encourage kidnappings of U.S. citizens and Westerners. U.S. citizens should closely monitor Travel Warnings and Alerts, as well as Country Specific Information, on the Department of State's travel website to review the latest safety and security information for destination countries.
       
      Information also suggests that al-Qa'ida and its affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in multiple regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
      These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics including suicide operations, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, and bombings.
       
      Extremists may elect to use conventional or non-conventional weapons, and target both official and private interests. Examples of such targets include high-profile sporting events, residential areas, business offices, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, public areas, shopping malls, and other tourist destinations both in the United States and abroad where U.S. citizens gather in large numbers, including during holidays.
       
      In early August 2013, the Department of State instructed certain U.S. embassies and consulates to remain closed or to suspend operations August 4 through August 10 because of security information received. The U.S. government took these precautionary steps out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees and others who may have planned to visit our installations.
       
      U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure. Extremists have targeted and attempted attacks on subway and rail systems, aviation, and maritime services. In the past, these types of attacks have occurred in cities such as Moscow, London, Madrid, Glasgow, and New York City.
       
      EUROPE: Current information suggests that al-Qa'ida, its affiliated organizations, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. and Western interests in Europe. Additionally, there is a continuing threat in Europe from unaffiliated persons planning attacks inspired by major terrorist organizations but conducted on an individual basis.  In the past several years, organized extremist attacks have been planned or carried out in various European countries. In October 2013 and twice in December 2013, suicide bombers targeted mass transportation in Volgograd, Russia, killing at least 70 people. In May 2013, in London, two Islamic extremists, unaffiliated with any group, killed a British soldier. The reported reason for the attack was to avenge the deaths of Muslims killed by British soldiers. On February 1, 2013, an individual detonated a bomb at a side entrance to the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, killing one Embassy guard and injuring others. The Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (Devrimci Halk Kurtulus Partisi/Cephesi or DHKP/C) claimed responsibility on its website for the attack. The DHKP/C has stated its intention to commit further attacks against the United States, NATO, and Turkey. European governments have taken action to guard against terrorist attacks, and some have made official declarations regarding heightened threat conditions.
       
      MIDDLE EAST and NORTH AFRICA: Credible information indicates terrorist groups also seek to continue attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle East and North Africa. The U.S. government remains highly concerned about possible attacks against U.S. citizens, facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and Western interests. Terrorist organizations continue to be active in Yemen, including al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Security threat levels remain high in Yemen due to terrorist activities and civil unrest.
       
      A number of extremist groups operate in Lebanon. As a result of spillover violence from the Syria crisis, Sunni groups are active and Hizballah, a group designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization, is also present. Sunni extremists have escalated the frequency and scope of indiscriminate bombings and small arms attacks against Lebanese Shia targets in Beirut, in addition to other locations throughout the country including Hermel and Arsal in eastern Lebanon. Other incidents, sometimes attributed to sectarian retaliatory actions, have occurred along the coast in Sidon and in Tripoli in northern Lebanon. Many of the attacks have targeted specific individuals or venues, but in all cases have resulted in death and harm to passersby in the vicinity. Although there is no evidence these attacks were directed specifically at U.S. citizens at this time, there is a real possibility of "wrong place, wrong time" harm to U.S. citizens. On February 19, twin suicide car bombings targeting the Iranian Cultural Center in a southern Beirut suburb killed at least seven people and wounded over 128 others. The al-Qa'ida-linked Abdallah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack. The same group also claimed responsibility for a double suicide bombing on November 19, 2013 that targeted the Iranian Embassy in south Beirut, which left at least 25 dead, and 150 injured. On December 27, 2013, a car bomb in downtown Beirut killed former Finance Minister Mohammad Chatah, and seven others, while injuring more than 70.
       
      Iraq is experiencing levels of violence not seen since 2007, and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, formerly known as al-Qa'ida in Iraq (AQI)), is increasingly resurgent. Although U.S. interests have not been targeted directly, the threat of attacks against U.S. citizens, including kidnapping and terrorist violence, continues, even in Baghdad's International Zone.  Bahrain continues to see bouts of sectarian violence, with Shi'a insurgents conducting increasingly lethal IED attacks against Bahraini Government targets to include facilities and security forces. Al-Qa'ida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and its affiliates are active throughout North Africa. In Algeria, terrorists sporadically attack Westerners and Algerian government targets, particularly in the Kabylie region, and near Algeria's borders with Libya and Mali. Terrorists have targeted oil processing plants in Algeria, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. In Libya, various groups have called for attacks against U.S. citizens and U.S. interests. For instance, in October and December 2013, extremist groups in Libya made specific threats against U.S. government officials and U.S. non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Libya. Because of the presumption that foreigners, especially U.S. citizens, in Libya may be associated with the U.S. government or U.S. NGOs, travelers should be aware that they may be targeted by extremist groups seeking to injure or kill U.S. citizens, and should act accordingly with extreme caution. In addition, on December 5, 2013, a U.S. citizen teacher resident in Benghazi was killed in a drive-by shooting near his home.
       
      Some elements in Iran remain hostile to the United States. U.S. citizens should remain cautious and be aware that there may be a more aggressive focus by the Iranian government on terrorist activity against U.S citizens. Continuing political and social unrest in Egypt has led to large demonstrations that have turned violent.
       
      No part of Syria should be considered immune from violence, and throughout the country the potential exists for unpredictable and hostile acts, including kidnappings, sniper assaults, large and small-scale bombings, and chemical attacks, as well as arbitrary arrest, detention, and torture. There is also a threat from terrorism, including groups like ISIL and al-Nusrah Front as well as other extremist groups.  Tactics for these groups include the use of suicide bombers, kidnapping, use of small and heavy arms, and improvised explosive devices in major city centers, including: Damascus, Aleppo, Hamah, Dara, Homs, Idlib, and Dayr al-Zawr. Public places, such as government buildings, shopping areas, and open spaces, have been targeted. Since the start of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime in March 2011, the United States has received reports of 256 foreigners kidnapped in Syria, 80 of whom are still in captivity. The majority of the victims are journalists and aid workers.
       
      AFRICA: A number of al-Qa'ida operatives and other extremists are believed to be operating in and around Africa. In February 2012, the emir of U.S-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization al-Shabaab and al-Qa'ida's leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, announced the alliance of the two organizations. Al-Shabaab has taken credit for the attack on the shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya on September 21, 2013, which claimed the lives of over 60 people and injured over a hundred more, including U.S. citizens. In the past year and a half, there have been numerous other attacks involving shootings, grenades, or explosive devices in Kenya. Over 100 people died in these attacks, and more than 200 people were injured.  No U.S. citizens were among the casualties. Fourteen grenade and improvised explosive device (IED) attacks have occurred in Nairobi, illustrating an increase in the number of attacks and an advance in the sophistication of attacks.
       
      Al-Shabaab assassinations, suicide bombings, hostage taking, and indiscriminate attacks in civilian-populated areas are also frequent in Somalia. Terrorist operatives and armed groups in Somalia have demonstrated their intent to attack Somali authorities, the African Union Mission in Somalia, and non-military targets such as international donor offices and humanitarian assistance providers. Additionally, the terrorist group al-Qa'ida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has declared its intention to attack Western targets throughout the Sahel (an area that stretches across the African continent between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea to include Senegal, Mali, Algeria, Niger, Chad, Sudan, and Eritrea). It has claimed responsibility for kidnappings, attempted kidnappings, and the murder of several Westerners throughout the region, including southern Algeria. Violent extremist elements including, but not limited to Ansar al-Dine, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad (MUJAO), al-Qaida in the Lands of Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and extremists tied to the newly formed al-Murabitun, remain active in the region. AQIM-related threats against Westerners in Mali and elsewhere increased following the initiation of the U.S.-supported, French-led intervention in northern and central Mali, where the security environment remains fluid. In neighboring Niger, terrorists formerly associated with AQIM conducted suicide attacks targeting a French mining facility and a Nigerien military compound in Agadez in late May of 2013.
       
      The loosely organized group of factions known as Boko Haram continues to carry out significant improvised explosive device and suicide bombings in northern Nigeria, mainly targeting government forces and innocent civilians. Boko Haram and splinter group Ansaru have also claimed responsibility for the kidnappings of several Western workers and tourists, both in northern Nigeria and northern Cameroon; Ansaru has murdered virtually all of its hostages in the face of real or perceived rescue attempts, while Boko Haram allegedly received a large ransom payment for the release of a French family abducted near a tourist park in northern Cameroon. Late 2013 saw an increase in Boko Haram attacks and clashes with Nigerian government security forces in northern Nigeria. Boko Haram has also targeted women and children for kidnapping, reportedly kidnapping women in northern states for marriage as "slave brides." Boko Haram is known to descend on whole towns, robbing banks and businesses, attacking police and military installations, and setting fire to private homes. In 2013, extremists have also targeted both Nigerians and foreign nationals involved in polio eradication efforts in northern Nigeria. Extremists attacked a school in northeast Nigeria, killing over 40 students, and have called for further attacks on educational institutions. Several agencies that have partnered with the U.S. government in the field of public health development in northern Nigeria have curtailed their activities in response to these threats. The president of Nigeria declared a state of emergency in three northeastern states in response to activities of extremist groups.
       
      U.S. citizens considering travel by sea near the Horn of Africa, the Gulf of Guinea, or in the southern Red Sea should exercise extreme caution, as there have been armed attacks, robberies, and kidnappings for ransom by pirates. The threat of hijacking to merchant vessels continues to exist in Somali territorial waters and as far as 1,000 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia, Yemen, and Kenya in international waters. There has also been a recent rise in piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea, including hijackings.
       
      U.S. government maritime authorities advise mariners to avoid the port of Mogadishu and to remain at least 200 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia. In addition, when transiting around the Horn of Africa, the Gulf of Guinea, or in the Red Sea, it is strongly recommended that vessels travel in convoys and maintain good communications at all times. U.S. citizens traveling on commercial passenger vessels should consult with the shipping or cruise ship company regarding precautions that will be taken to avoid hijacking incidents. Commercial vessels should review the Department of Transportation Maritime Administration's Horn of Africa Piracy page for information on maritime advisories, self-protection measures, and naval forces in the region. Review our International Maritime Piracy Fact Sheet for information on piracy in the southern Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the Indian Ocean.
       
      SOUTH ASIA: The U.S. government continues to receive information that terrorist groups in South Asia may also be planning attacks in the region, possibly against U.S. government facilities, U.S. citizens, or U.S. interests. The presence of al-Qa'ida, Taliban elements, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, indigenous sectarian groups, and other terror organizations, many of which are on the U.S. government's list of designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, poses a potential danger to U.S. citizens in the region. Terrorists and their sympathizers have demonstrated their willingness and ability to attack locations where U.S. citizens or Westerners are known to congregate or visit. Their actions may include, but are not limited to, vehicle-borne explosive attacks, improvised explosive device attacks, assassinations, carjackings, rocket attacks, assaults, or kidnappings.
       
      Such attacks have occurred in a number of South Asian states, including Pakistan, where a number of extremist groups continue to target U.S. and other Western citizens and interests, and Pakistani government and military/law enforcement personnel.  Suicide bombing attacks continue to occur throughout the country on a regular basis, often targeting government authorities such as police checkpoints and military installations, as well as public areas such as mosques, and shopping areas. U.S. citizens are increasingly targeted for kidnapping.  No part of Afghanistan should be considered immune from violence, and throughout the country the potential exists for hostile acts, either targeted or random, against U.S. and other Western nationals at any time. Elements of the Taliban and the al-Qa'ida terrorist network, as well as other insurgent groups hostile to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, remain active. Insurgents continue to target various U.S. and Afghan government facilities, including a sophisticated, multiple-explosives and small-arms assault against the U.S. Consulate in Herat which killed two security guards and injured another 20 in September 2013. Insurgents also are increasingly targeting U.S. and foreign security convoys traveling in Kabul. In early February 2014, a lone vehicle borne improvised explosive device detonated in close proximity to a U.S. security convoy, killing three civilian contractors. There is an ongoing threat of kidnapping and assassination of U.S. citizens and non-governmental organization (NGO) workers throughout the country.
       
      India has experienced terrorist and insurgent activities that may affect U.S. citizens directly or indirectly. Anti-Western terrorist groups, some of which are on the U.S. government's list of designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, have been active in India, including Islamist extremist groups such as Harkat-ul- Jihad-i-Islami, Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Indian Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e Tayyiba. Terrorists have targeted public places in India frequented by Westerners, including luxury and other hotels, trains, train stations, markets, cinemas, mosques, and restaurants in large urban areas.
       
      CENTRAL ASIA: Supporters of terrorist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, al-Qa'ida, the Islamic Jihad Union, and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement remain active in Central Asia. These groups have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and may attempt to target U.S. government interests.
       
      EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC: Information from confirmed sources suggests that there is a continued risk of armed terrorist and criminal groups operating and planning attacks against foreigners, including U.S. citizens, in the East Asian and Pacific region. Extremist groups in the region have demonstrated the capability to carry out attacks in locations where Westerners congregate.
       
      There is a risk of travel to the southern Philippines, specifically related to kidnapping threats in the Sulu Archipelago and the ongoing threat of violence on the island of Mindanao, particularly in Central Mindanao. U.S. citizens should defer non-essential travel to the Sulu Archipelago, due to the high threat of kidnapping of international travelers and violence linked to insurgency and terrorism there. U.S. citizens should continue to exercise extreme caution if traveling to Mindanao. In 2013, separatist and terrorist groups increased the tempo and scale of their activities and confrontations with Philippine security forces, with increased bombings, attacks on civilians and political leaders, and battles with security forces. In September 2013, elements of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) occupied portions of the city of Zamboanga and engaged in a lengthy battle with security forces which reduced large parts of the city to rubble.
       
      The U.S. government has designated two groups, Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), as Foreign Terrorist Organizations. JI is linked to al-Qa'ida and other regional terrorist groups and has cells operating throughout Southeast Asia. On November 15, 2013, gunmen, linked to the Abu Sayyaf Group, raided a resort on Pom Pom Island off the eastern coast of Sabah, killing a tourist from Taiwan and taking his wife hostage. On December 20, Philippine authorities recovered her in a forest near the village of Talipao on the island of Jolo. Some media reports indicated she was released in exchange for a ransom payment. On December 2, Royal Malaysia Police announced the arrest of two suspects in Semporna, eastern Sabah, allegedly linked to the attack. Kidnappings-for-ransom occur in these areas. In addition to incursions on the coastal and island resorts themselves, criminal or terrorist bands may attempt to intercept boats ferrying tourists in the area.
       
       
      Before You Go
      The Department of State urges U.S. citizens living overseas or planning to travel abroad to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). When you enroll in STEP, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.  Enrolling will also make it easier for the Embassy to contact you in the event of an emergency.  You should remember to keep all of your information in STEP up to date; it is particularly important when you enroll or update your information to include a current phone number and e-mail address.
       
      U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security.  For additional information, please refer to Traveler's Checklist.
       
      U.S. government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert.  These facilities may temporarily close or periodically suspend public services to assess their security posture.  In those instances, U.S. embassies and consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens.  U.S. citizens abroad are urged to monitor the local news and maintain contact with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
       
      As the Department of State continues to develop information on potential security threats to U.S. citizens overseas, it shares credible threat information through its Consular Information Program documents, including Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, Country Specific Information, and Emergency and Security Messages, all of which are available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website at http://travel.state.gov. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.
       
      In addition to information on the internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, from other countries, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Friday, Eastern Time (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • Bush Fire Season in Australia - Oct 2013

    Bush Fire Season in Australia - Oct 2013

    • The Australian bush fire season runs from October to May.  Local authorities are anticipating the 2013 – 2014 bush fire season to be above average for fire potential as conditions associated with bush fires have worsened in the past year.  Every year bush fires ravage large areas of land, causing property damage and loss of life.  State and territorial emergency services in Australia provide up-to-date information on bush fires and advice on precautionary measures that can help minimize fire-related risks.  Information on emergency services in Australia is provided below.  You are advised to monitor local television and radio stations, as media reporting may be the best resource for breaking news on fire conditions. 

      The New South Wales Rural Fire Service’s website contains extensive information concerning current fires, fire danger ratings, and total fire ban information, as well as bush fire survival plan information.  All of this information can be found at:   http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/.

      Additional resources can be found at:

      Australia-wide:

      Dial 000 (triple zero) for immediate assistance from the police, ambulance service or fire brigade.

      The Bureau of Meteorology provides the most updated weather information and warnings countrywide.

      Emergency Management Australia coordinates emergency response across the country.

      Australian Capital Territory

      ACT Fire Brigade: Manages fire emergencies across the Australian Capital Territory

      ACT Emergency Services Agency: Provide emergency assistance following a disaster

      New South Wales:

      NSW Fire and Rescue Service: Manages fire emergencies in NSW’s major cities and towns

      NSW Rural Fire Service: Manages fire emergencies in regional NSW

      NSW State Emergency Service: Provide emergency assistance following a disaster

      Northern Territory:

      NT Police, Fire and Emergency Services: Manages fire emergencies across the Northern Territory

      Queensland:

      QLD Fire and Rescue Service: Manages fire emergencies across Queensland

      QLD State Emergency Service: Provide emergency assistance following a disaster

      South Australia:

      SA Metropolitan Fire Service: Manages fire emergencies in the Adelaide metropolitan area

      SA Country Fire Service: Manages fire emergencies in regional South Australia

      SA State Emergency Service: Provide emergency assistance following a disaster

      Tasmania:

      Tasmanian Fire Service: Manages fire emergencies across Tasmania

      State Emergency Service: Provide emergency assistance following a disaster

       Victoria:

      Country Fire Authority: Manages fire emergencies in regional Victoria

      Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board: Manages fire emergencies in the Melbourne metropolitan area

      Victoria State Emergency Service: Provide emergency assistance following a disaster

      Western Australia:

      WA Fire and Emergency Services Authority: Manages fire emergencies across Western Australia

      Additionally, there is a free app that anyone can download to a personal device to see if there are any fires near their current location called Fires Near Me.  More information on this app can be found here: http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/dsp_content.cfm?cat_id=131251.  Alternatively, this is also a web based application that can be accessed here: http://www.firesnearme.com/

      We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Australia enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).   STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you don't have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.


      Regularly monitor the State Department's website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution, and read the Country Specific Information for Australia.  For additional information, refer to "A Safe Trip Abroad" on the State Department's website.

      Contact the U.S. Consulate General for up-to-date information on travel restrictions.  You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free from within the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).  Follow us on Twitter, and Facebook, and download our free Smart Traveler iPhone App to have travel information at your fingertips.

      Australian Capital Territory (ACT) or Queanbeyan:

      U.S. Embassy in Canberra
      Moonah Place
      Yarralumla, ACT 2600
      Telephone: (61) (2) 6214- 5600
      Emergency after-hours telephone: (61) (2) 411-424-608
      Facsimile: (61) (2) 6214-5970

      NOTE: The U.S. Embassy in Canberra only provides emergency assistance for U.S. citizens in the ACT. The U.S. Embassy does not issue U.S. passports or visas. Passports and other routine citizen services for Canberra and the rest of the ACT are provided by the U.S. Consulate General in Sydney (see contact information below).

      New South Wales, Norfolk Island, Lord Howe Island, and Queensland:
      U.S. Consulate General Sydney
      Level 10, MLC Centre, 19-29 Martin Place, Sydney, NSW 2000
      Telephone: (61) (2) 9373-9200
      Emergency after-hours telephone: (61) (2) 4422-2201
      Facsimile: (61) (2) 9373-9184
      Email: SydneyACS@state.gov

       

      Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and the Northern Territory:
      U.S. Consulate General Melbourne
      553 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne, VIC 3004
      Telephone: (61) (3) 9526-5900
      Emergency after-hours telephone: (61) (3) 9389-3601
      Facsimile: (61) (3) 9525-0769
      Email: MelbourneACS@state.gov

      NOTE: The U.S. Consulate General offers an online appointment system for U.S. citizens seeking routine non-emergency services such as registration, passport, and other consular services. To make an appointment, please visit their web site. Hours open to the public: 8:00am – 3:30pm Monday to Friday. All services other than emergencies require an appointment. For emergency services (e.g., the arrest, death, or serious injury of a U.S. citizen) after 4:30 p.m. or on holidays and weekends, please call (61) (3) 9389-3601.

      Western Australia:

      U.S. Consulate General Perth
      16 St. Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000
      Telephone: (61)(8) 6144- 5100
      Emergency after-hours telephone: (61) (8) 9476-0081
      Facsimile: (61)(8) 9231-9444
      Email: PerthACS@state.gov

      NOTE: The Consulate General offers an online appointment system for U.S. citizens seeking routine non-emergency services such as registration, passport, and other consular services. To make an appointment, please visit the Consulate's website. Hours open to the public for American Citizen Services: 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., Monday through Thursday. For emergency services (e.g., the arrest, death, or serious injury of a U.S. citizen) outside of business hours, please call (61) (8) 9476-0081.

  • Worldwide Caution - Sept 2013

    Worldwide Caution - Sept 2013

    • September 25, 2013

      The Department of State has issued this Worldwide Caution to update information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world. U.S. citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. This replaces the Worldwide Caution dated February 19, 2013, to provide updated information on security threats and terrorist activities worldwide.

      The Department of State remains concerned about the continued threat of terrorist attacks, demonstrations, and other violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests overseas. Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida, its affiliated organizations, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in multiple regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics including suicide operations, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, and bombings.

      Extremists may elect to use conventional or non-conventional weapons, and target both official and private interests. Examples of such targets include high-profile sporting events, residential areas, business offices, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, public areas, shopping malls, and other tourist destinations both in the United States and abroad where U.S. citizens gather in large numbers, including during holidays.

      In early August 2013, the Department of State instructed certain U.S. embassies and consulates to remain closed or to suspend operations August 4 through August 10 because of security information received. The U.S. government took these precautionary steps out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees and others who may have planned to visit our installations.

      U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure. Extremists have targeted and attempted attacks on subway and rail systems, aviation, and maritime services. In the past, these types of attacks have occurred in cities such as Moscow, London, Madrid, Glasgow, and New York City.

      EUROPE: Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida, its affiliated organizations, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. and Western interests in Europe. Additionally, there is a continuing threat in Europe from unaffiliated persons planning attacks inspired by major terrorist organizations but conducted on an individual basis. On February 1, 2013, an individual detonated a bomb at a side entrance to the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, killing one Embassy guard and injuring others. The Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (Devrimci Halk Kurtulus Partisi/Cephesi or DHKP/C) claimed responsibility on its website for the attack. The DHKP/C has stated its intention to commit further attacks against the United States, NATO, and Turkey. In May 2013, in London, two Islamic extremists, unaffiliated with any group, killed a British soldier. The reported reason for the attack was to avenge the deaths of

      Muslims killed by British soldiers. European governments have taken action to guard against terrorist attacks, and some have made official declarations regarding heightened threat conditions. In the past several years, organized extremist attacks have been planned or carried out in various European countries. On February 5, the Bulgarian government announced its judgment that Hezbollah was responsible for a July 2012 terrorist attack in Burgas which resulted in the deaths of five tourists and a bus driver.

      MIDDLE EAST and NORTH AFRICA: Credible information indicates terrorist groups also seek to continue attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle East and North Africa. The U.S. government remains highly concerned about possible attacks against U.S. citizens, facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and Western interests. Terrorist organizations continue to be active in Yemen, including al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Security threat levels remain high in Yemen due to terrorist activities and civil unrest. In September 2012, a mob of Yemeni protestors attacked the U.S. Embassy compound. U.S. citizens have also been the targets of numerous terrorist attacks in Lebanon in the past (though none recently) and the threat of anti-Western terrorist activity continues to exist there. There are a number of extremist groups operating in Lebanon, including Hezbollah, a group designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization. Iraq is experiencing levels of violence not seen since 2007, and al-Qa’ida in Iraq is increasingly resurgent. Although U.S. interests have not been targeted directly, the threat of attacks against U.S. citizens, including kidnapping and terrorist violence, continues, even in Baghdad’s International Zone. Bahrain continues to see bouts of sectarian violence, with Shi’a insurgents conducting IED attacks against Bahraini government and security facilities. Al-Qa’ida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and its affiliates are active throughout North Africa. In Algeria, terrorists sporadically attack Westerners and Algerian government targets, particularly in the Kabylie region, and near Algeria’s borders with Libya and Mali. In January 2013, terrorists attacked a natural gas facility at In Amenas resulting in the deaths of dozens, including three U.S. citizens. Terrorists have also targeted oil processing plants in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The In Amenas attack was staged from southern Libya, which has become a haven for regional terrorist organizations that present a threat to U.S. interests in Tripoli. Libyan security is largely provided by militias that occasionally fight one another, and that have been unable to protect U.S. persons from past attacks, such as the September 2012 attack against the U.S. Temporary Mission Facility in Benghazi that led to the deaths of four U.S. citizens, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya. Some elements in Iran remain hostile to the United States. U.S. citizens should remain cautious and be aware that there may be a more aggressive focus by the Iranian government on terrorist activity against U.S citizens. Continuing political and social unrest in Egypt has led to large demonstrations that have turned violent. Westerners and U.S. citizens have occasionally been caught in the middle of clashes and demonstrations. On June 28, a U.S. citizen was killed during a demonstration in Alexandria. On May 9, a private U.S. citizen was attacked with a knife outside the U.S. Embassy after being asked whether he was an American. Political and social unrest in Tunisia has also led to large demonstrations that occasionally turn violent. In September 2012, a large group of demonstrators breached the U.S. Embassy compound in Tunis, causing significant damage.

      No part of Syria should be considered immune from violence, and throughout the country the potential exists for unpredictable and hostile acts, including kidnappings, sniper assaults, large and small-scale bombings, and chemical attacks, as well as arbitrary arrest, detention, and torture. The conflict in Syria has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths with many thousands wounded and over one million displaced persons.

      AFRICA: A number of al-Qa’ida operatives and other extremists are believed to be operating in and around Africa. In February 2012, the emir of U.S-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization al-Shabaab and al-Qa’ida's leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, announced the alliance of the two organizations. Al-Shabaab has taken credit for the attack on the shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya on September 21, 2013, which claimed the lives of over 60 people and injured over a hundred more, including U.S. citizens. Al-Shabaab assassinations, suicide bombings, hostage taking, and indiscriminate attacks in civilian-populated areas are also frequent in Somalia. Terrorist operatives and armed groups in Somalia have demonstrated their intent to attack Somali authorities, the African Union Mission in Somalia, and non-military targets such as international donor offices and humanitarian assistance providers. Additionally, the terrorist group al-Qa’ida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has declared its intention to attack Western targets throughout the Sahel (an area that stretches across the African continent between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea to include Senegal, Mali, Algeria, Niger, Chad, Sudan, and Eritrea). It has claimed responsibility for kidnappings, attempted kidnappings, and the murder of several Westerners throughout the region, including southern Algeria. AQIM-related threats against Westerners in Mali and elsewhere increased following the initiation of the U.S.-supported, French-led intervention in northern and central Mali, where the security environment remains fluid. In neighboring Niger, terrorists formerly associated with AQIM conducted suicide attacks targeting a French mining facility and a Nigerien military compound in Agadez in late May. The loosely organized group of factions known as Boko Haram continues to carry out significant improvised explosive device and suicide bombings in northern Nigeria, mainly targeting government forces and innocent civilians; attacks have continued at a high rate since their attack on the UN building in the capital of Abuja in 2011. Boko Haram and splinter group Ansaru have also claimed responsibility for the kidnappings of several Western workers and tourists, both in northern Nigeria and northern Cameroon; Ansaru has murdered virtually all of its hostages in the face of real or perceived rescue attempts, while Boko Haram allegedly received a large ransom payment for the release of a French family abducted near a tourist park in northern Cameroon. In 2013, extremists have also targeted both Nigerians and foreign nationals involved in polio eradication efforts in northern Nigeria. Extremists attacked a school in northeast Nigeria, killing over 40 students, and have called for further attacks on educational institutions. Several agencies that have partnered with the U.S. government in the field of public health development in northern Nigeria have curtailed their activities in response to these threats. The president of Nigeria declared a state of emergency in three northeastern states in response to activities of extremist groups.

      U.S. citizens considering travel by sea near the Horn of Africa, the Gulf of Guinea, or in the southern Red Sea should exercise extreme caution, as there have been armed attacks, robberies, and kidnappings for ransom by pirates. The threat of hijacking to merchant vessels continues to exist in Somali territorial waters and as far as 1,000 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia, Yemen, and Kenya in international waters. There has also been a recent rise in piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea, including hijackings.

      U.S. government maritime authorities advise mariners to avoid the port of Mogadishu and to remain at least 200 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia. In addition, when transiting around the Horn of Africa, the Gulf of Guinea, or in the Red Sea, it is strongly recommended that vessels travel in convoys and maintain good communications at all times. U.S. citizens traveling on commercial passenger vessels should consult with the shipping or cruise ship company regarding precautions that will be taken to avoid hijacking incidents. Commercial vessels should review the Department of Transportation Maritime Administration's Horn of Africa Piracy page for information on maritime advisories, self-protection measures, and naval forces in the region. Review our International Maritime Piracy Fact Sheet for information on piracy in the southern Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the Indian Ocean.

      SOUTH ASIA: The U.S. government continues to receive information that terrorist groups in South Asia may also be planning attacks in the region, possibly against U.S. government facilities, U.S. citizens, or U.S. interests. The presence of al-Qa’ida, Taliban elements, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, indigenous sectarian groups, and other terror organizations, many of which are on the U.S. government's list of designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, poses a potential danger to U.S. citizens in the region. Terrorists and their sympathizers have demonstrated their willingness and ability to attack locations where U.S. citizens or Westerners are known to congregate or visit. Their actions may include, but are not limited to, vehicle-borne explosive attacks, improvised explosive device attacks, assassinations, carjackings, rocket attacks, assaults, or kidnappings.

      Such attacks have occurred in a number of South Asian states, including Pakistan, where a number of extremist groups continue to target U.S. and other Western citizens and interests, and Pakistani government and military/law enforcement personnel. Suicide bombing attacks continue to occur throughout the country on a regular basis, often targeting government authorities such as police checkpoints and military installations, as well as public areas such as mosques, and shopping areas. U.S. citizens are increasingly targeted for kidnapping. No part of Afghanistan should be considered immune from violence, and throughout the country the potential exists for hostile acts, either targeted or random, against U.S. and other Western nationals at any time. Elements of the Taliban and the al-Qa’ida terrorist network, as well as other insurgent groups hostile to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, remain active. Insurgents continue to target various U.S. and Afghan government facilities in Kabul City, including the June 25, 2013 attack against a U.S. government facility adjacent to the Afghan Presidential Palace and U.S. Embassy. There is an ongoing threat of kidnapping and assassination of U.S. citizens and non-governmental organization (NGO) workers throughout the country. India has experienced terrorist and insurgent activities that may affect U.S. citizens directly or indirectly. Anti-Western terrorist groups, some of which are on the U.S. government's list of designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, have been active in India, including Islamist extremist groups such as Harkat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami, Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Indian Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e Tayyiba. Terrorists have targeted public places in India frequented by Westerners, including luxury and other hotels, trains, train stations, markets, cinemas, mosques, and restaurants in large urban areas.

      Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and other countries experienced civil unrest, large scale protests and demonstrations following the release of anti-Islamic videos and cartoons in September 2012.

      CENTRAL ASIA: Supporters of terrorist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, al-Qa’ida, the Islamic Jihad Union, and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement remain active in Central Asia. These groups have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and may attempt to target U.S. government interests. 

      Before You Go

      The Department of State urges U.S. citizens living overseas or planning to travel abroad to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). When you enroll in STEP, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. Enrolling will also make it easier for the Embassy to contact you in the event of an emergency. You should remember to keep all of your information in STEP up to date; it is particularly important when you enroll or update your information to include a current phone number and e-mail address.

      U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security. For additional information, please refer to "A Safe Trip Abroad."

      U.S. government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert. These facilities may temporarily close or periodically suspend public services to assess their security posture. In those instances, U.S. embassies and consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens abroad are urged to monitor the local news and maintain contact with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

      As the Department of State continues to develop information on potential security threats to U.S. citizens overseas, it shares credible threat information through its Consular Information Program documents, including Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, Country Specific Information, and Emergency and Security Messages, all of which are available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website at http://travel.state.gov. Stay up to date by bookmarking our website or downloading our free Smart Traveler iPhone or Google Play App for travel and timely security information at your fingertips. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.

      In addition to information on the internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, from other countries, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Friday, Eastern Time (except U.S. federal holidays).

  • Travel Alert - Aug 2013

    Travel Alert - Aug 2013

    • The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, and possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula. Current information suggests that al-Qa'ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August. This Travel Alert expires on August 31, 2013.

      Terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests. U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure. Terrorists have targeted and attacked subway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime services. U.S. citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling.

      We continue to work closely with other nations on the threat from international terrorism, including from al-Qa'ida. Information is routinely shared between the U.S. and our key partners in order to disrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potential operatives, and strengthen our defenses against potential threats.

      We recommend U.S. citizens register their travel plans with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy through the State Department's travel registration website. We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens Traveling abroad enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don't have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

      For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Internet website at travel.state.gov where the Worldwide Caution, Country Specific Information, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. Download our free Smart Traveler app, available through iTunes or Google Play, to have travel information at your fingertips.

      In addition to information on the internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, from other countries, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Friday, Eastern Time (except U.S. federal holidays).

      To subscribe or unsubscribe to this list send an email to SydneyACS@state.gov.

      U.S. Consulate General

      American Citizens Services (ACS)
      Level 10, MLC Centre
      19-29 Martin Place
      Sydney, NSW 2000
      Telephone Number: (02) 9373-9200
      After Hours Telephone Number: (02) 4422-2201
      Email: SydneyACS@state.gov 

  • Cyclone Rusty - Feb 2013

    Cyclone Rusty - Feb 2013

    • The U.S. Consulate General in Perth reminds U. S. citizens residing or traveling in the Kimberly and Pilbara Regions of Western Australia about the threat of Tropical Cyclone Rusty, which will affect the region starting Monday.  U.S. citizens living in or traveling to the region should monitor local weather reports, follow directions from local officials, and take other appropriate action as needed. 

      Current cyclone alerts are online at http://www.dfes.wa.gov.au/alerts/Pages/default.aspx. Cyclone preparation information is also available at http://www.dfes.wa.gov.au/safetyinformation/cyclone/Pages/default.aspx

      We strongly recommend U.S. citizens travelling to or residing in Australia enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at https://step.state.gov/step. STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. Embassy or nearest U.S. Consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you don't have internet access, enroll directly at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

      Regularly monitor the State Department's website at http://travel.state.gov, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution.  Read the Country Specific Information for Australia at: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_4965.html.  For additional information, refer to "A Safe Trip Abroad" on the State Department's website.

      Contact the U.S. Consulate General for up-to-date information on travel restrictions.  You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free from within the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

      Follow us on Twitter at https://mobile.twitter.com/travelgov and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/travelgov, and download our free Smart Traveler iPhone App at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/smart-traveler/id442693988?mt=8 to have travel information at your fingertips.

  • Worldwide Caution - Feb 2013

    Worldwide Caution - Feb 2013

    • February 20, 2013

      The Department of State has issued this Worldwide Caution to update information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world.  U.S. citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness.  This replaces the Worldwide Caution dated July 18, 2012, to provide updated information on security threats and terrorist activities worldwide.

      The Department of State remains concerned about the continued threat of terrorist attacks, demonstrations, and other violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests overseas.  Current information suggests that al-Qaida, its affiliated organizations, and other terrorist organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in multiple regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics including suicide operations, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, and bombings.

      Extremists may elect to use conventional or non-conventional weapons, and target both official and private interests.  Examples of such targets include high-profile sporting events, residential areas, business offices, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, public areas, and other tourist destinations both in the United States and abroad where U.S. citizens gather in large numbers, including during holidays.

      U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure.  Extremists have targeted and attempted attacks on subway and rail systems, aviation, and maritime services.  In the past, these types of attacks have occurred in cities such as Moscow, London, Madrid, Glasgow, and New York City.

       

      EUROPE:  Current information suggests that al-Qaida, its affiliated organizations, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. and Western interests in Europe.  Additionally, there is a continuing threat in Europe from unaffiliated persons planning attacks inspired by major terrorist organizations but conducted on an individual basis.  On February 1, 2013, an individual detonated a bomb at a side entrance to the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, killing one Embassy guard and injuring others.  The Revolutionary  People's Liberation Party/Front (Devrimci Halk Kurtulus Partisi/Cephesi or DHKP/C) claimed responsibility for the attack on its website.  The DHKP/C has stated its intention to commit further attacks against the United States, NATO, and Turkey.  European governments have taken action to guard against terrorist attacks, and some have made official declarations regarding heightened threat conditions.  In the past several years, attacks have been planned or carried out in various European countries.  On February 5, the Bulgarian government announced its judgment that Hizbollah was responsible for a July 2012 terrorist attack in Burgas which resulted in the deaths of five tourists and a bus driver.

      MIDDLE EAST and NORTH AFRICA:  Credible information indicates terrorist groups also seek to continue attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle East and North Africa. The U.S. government remains highly concerned about possible attacks against U.S. citizens, facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and Western interests. Terrorist organizations continue to be active in Yemen, including al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Security threat levels remain high in Yemen due to terrorist activities and civil unrest. In September 2012, a mob of Yemeni protestors attacked the U.S. Embassy compound.  U.S. citizens have also been the targets of numerous terrorist attacks in Lebanon in the past (though none recently) and the threat of anti- Western terrorist activity continues to exist there. There are a number of extremist groups operating in Lebanon, including Hizballah, a group designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization.  Iraq remains dangerous and unpredictable.  U.S. military forces departed as of December 31, 2011, but the threat of attacks against U.S. citizens, including kidnapping and terrorist violence, continues.  In Algeria, Al-Qaida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is active and operates throughout the country.  

      Terrorists sporadically attack westerners and Algerian targets, particularly in the Kabylie region, and near Algeria's borders with Libya and Mali.  In January, terrorists attacked a natural gas facility at In Amenas resulting in the deaths of dozens, including three U.S. citizens. Terrorists have also targeted oil processing plants in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Some elements in Iran remain hostile to the United States. U.S. citizens should remain cautious and be aware that there may be a more aggressive focus by the Iranian government on terrorist activity against U.S citizens. 

      No part of Syria should be considered immune from violence, and the potential exists throughout the country for unpredictable and hostile acts, including kidnappings, sniper assaults, large and small-scale bombings, as well as arbitrary arrest, detention, and torture. The conflict in Syria has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths with many thousands wounded and over one million displaced persons. 7.  In September 2012, civil unrest, large scale protests and demonstrations as well as violent attacks - some of which were in reaction to an anti-Islamic video and cartoons - targeted U.S. missions and schools overseas including in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, and Yemen.  

      U.S. citizens are warned that demonstrations intended to be peaceful can escalate into violent clashes.  U.S. citizens are also reminded that demonstrations and riots can occur with little or no warning.  U.S. citizens are urged to avoid areas of demonstrations if possible and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of a demonstration.

      AFRICA:  A number of al-Qaida operatives and other extremists are believed to be operating in and around Africa.  In February 2012, the emir of U.S-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization al-Shabaab and al-Qaida's leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, announced the alliance of the two organizations.  Al-Shabaab assassinations, suicide bombings, and indiscriminate attacks in civilian- populated areas are frequent in Somalia.  Terrorist operatives and armed groups in Somalia have demonstrated their intent to attack Somali authorities, African Union Missions in Somalia and non-military targets. Additionally, the terrorist group al-Qaida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has declared its intention to attack Western targets throughout the Sahel (an area that stretches across the African continent between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea to include Senegal, Mali, Algeria, Niger, Chad, Sudan, and Eritrea).  It has claimed responsibility for kidnappings, attempted kidnappings, and the murder of several Westerners throughout the region, including southern Algeria.  

      The loosely organized group of factions known as Boko Haram continues to carry out significant improvised explosive device and suicide bombings in northern Nigeria, mainly targeting government forces and innocent civilians; attacks have increased since their attack on the UN building in the capital of Abuja last year.  The president of Nigeria declared a state of emergency in certain areas in response to activities of extremist groups.  AQIM and related extremist groups have threatened to attack and kidnap Westerners in Mali and the region in response to the U.S.-supported French intervention in Northern and Central Mali, where the political conditions remain fluid, and the Malian government has yet to reassert control over its northern provinces.

      U.S. citizens considering travel by sea near the Horn of Africa or in the southern Red Sea should exercise extreme caution, as there have been armed attacks, robberies, and kidnappings for ransom by pirates.  Merchant vessels continue to be hijacked in Somali territorial waters, while others have been hijacked as far as 1,000 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia, Yemen, and Kenya in international waters.

      U.S. government maritime authorities advise mariners to avoid the port of Mogadishu and to remain at least 200 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia.  In addition, when transiting around the Horn of Africa or in the Red Sea, it is strongly recommended that vessels travel in convoys and maintain good communications at all times.  U.S. citizens traveling on commercial passenger vessels should consult with the shipping or cruise ship company regarding precautions that will be taken to avoid hijacking incidents.  Commercial vessels should review the Department of Transportation Maritime Administration's Horn of Africa Piracy page for information on maritime advisories, self-protection measures, and naval forces in the region.  Review our International Maritime Piracy Fact Sheet for information on piracy in the southern Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the Indian Ocean.

      SOUTH ASIA:  The U.S. government continues to receive information that terrorist groups in South Asia may also be planning attacks in the region, possibly against U.S. government facilities, U.S. citizens, or U.S. interests.  The presence of al-Qaida, Taliban elements, Lashkar-e-Taiba, indigenous sectarian groups, and other terror organizations, many of which are on the U.S. government's list of Foreign Terror Organizations (FTOs), poses a potential danger to U.S. citizens in the region.  Terrorists and their sympathizers have demonstrated their willingness and ability to attack targets where U.S. citizens or Westerners are known to congregate or visit.  Their actions may include, but are not limited to, vehicle-born explosive attacks, improvised explosive device attacks, assassinations, car jackings, rocket attacks, assaults, or kidnappings.

      Such attacks have occurred in a number of South Asian states, including Pakistan, where a number of extremist groups continue to target U.S. and other Western citizens and interests, and Pakistani government and military/law enforcement personnel.  Suicide bombing attacks continue to occur throughout the country on a regular basis, often targeting government authorities such as police checkpoints and military installations, as well as public areas such as mosques, and shopping areas.  Kidnappings of U.S. citizens are also on the increase.  

      No part of Afghanistan should be considered immune from violence, and the potential exists throughout the country for hostile acts, either targeted or random, against U.S. and other Western nationals at any time.  Elements of the Taliban and the al-Qaida terrorist network, as well as other groups hostile to International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) military operations, remain active.  There is an ongoing threat of kidnapping and assassination of U.S. citizens and Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) workers throughout the country.  India has experienced terrorist and insurgent activities which may affect U.S. citizens directly or indirectly. Anti-Western terrorist groups, some on the U.S. government's list of designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, have been active in India, including Islamist extremist groups such as Harkat-ul- Jihad-i-Islami, Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Indian Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e Tayyiba.  Terrorists have targeted public places in India frequented by Westerners, including luxury and other hotels, trains, train stations, markets, cinemas, mosques, and restaurants in large urban areas.

      Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and other countries experienced civil unrest, large scale protests and demonstrations following the release of anti-Islamic videos and cartoons in September 2012.

      CENTRAL ASIA:  Supporters of terrorist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, al-Qaida, the Islamic Jihad Union, and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement remain active in Central Asia.  These groups have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and may attempt to target U.S. government interests.

       

      -------------Before You Go-------------

      The Department of State encourages U.S. citizens living overseas or planning to travel abroad to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  When you enroll in STEP, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.  Enrolling will also make it easier for the Embassy to contact you in the event of an emergency.  You should remember to keep all of your information in STEP up to date; it is particularly important when you enroll or update your information to include a current phone number and e-mail address.

      U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security.  For additional information, please refer to "A Safe Trip Abroad" on our website, http://travel.state.gov/.

      U.S. government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert.  These facilities may temporarily close or periodically suspend public services to assess their security posture.  In those instances, U.S. embassies and consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens abroad are urged to monitor the local news and maintain contact with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

      As the Department of State continues to develop information on potential security threats to U.S. citizens overseas, it shares credible threat information through its Consular Information Program documents, including Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, Country Specific Information, and Emergency Messages, all of which are available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website at http://travel.state.gov.  Stay up to date by bookmarking our website or downloading our free Smart Traveler iPhone or Android App for travel information at your fingertips.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.

      In addition to information on the internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, from other countries, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Friday, Eastern Time (except U.S. federal holidays).

  • Cyclone Narelle - Jan 2013

    Cyclone Narelle - Jan 2013

    • The U.S. Consulate General in Perth reminds U. S. citizens residing or traveling in the Pilbara Region of Western Australia about the ongoing threat of tropical cyclone Narelle, which will affect the region Friday and into the weekend.  U.S. citizens living in or traveling to the region should monitor local weather reports, follow directions from local officials, and take other appropriate action as needed.  

      Current cyclone alerts are online at http://www.dfes.wa.gov.au/alerts/Pages/default.aspx. Cyclone preparation information is also available at http://www.dfes.wa.gov.au/safetyinformation/cyclone/Pages/default.aspx

      We strongly recommend U.S. citizens travelling to or residing in Australia enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at https://step.state.gov/step. STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. Embassy or nearest U.S. Consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you don't have internet access, enroll directly at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

      Regularly monitor the State Department's website at http://travel.state.gov, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution.  Read the Country Specific Information for Australia at: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_4965.html.  For additional information, refer to "A Safe Trip Abroad" on the State Department's website.

      Contact the U.S. Consulate General for up-to-date information on travel restrictions.  You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free from within the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

  • Bushfire Advice - Jan 2013

    Bushfire Advice - Jan 2013

    • U.S. Embassy advises U.S. citizens in Australia to take precautionary measures to protect themselves and their property against the danger of bush fires.

       

      The Australian bush fire season runs from October to May, and local authorities anticipate a difficult season this year.  State and territorial emergency services in Australia provide up-to-date information on bush fires and advice on precautionary measures that can help minimize fire-related risks.  These steps include cutting back overhanging trees on your property, clearing gutters, and keeping a water hose long enough to reach every part of your home.

       

      Additionally, you can download a free app called “Fires Near Me” to see if there are fires near your current location.  More information on this app can be found at http://esa.act.gov.au/community-information/bushfires/fires-near-me/.  Alternatively, a web-based application can be accessed at http://www.firesnearme.com/.

       

      Information on emergency services in Australia is provided below.  U.S. citizens are also advised to monitor local television and radio, as media reporting may be the best resource for breaking news on fire conditions.  Please feel free to share this message with your fellow U.S. citizens.

       

      Australia-wide

      Dial 000 (triple zero) for immediate assistance from the police, ambulance service or fire brigade.

      The Bureau of Meteorology provides the most updated weather information and warnings countrywide.

      Emergency Management Australia coordinates emergency response across the country.

       

      Australian Capital Territory

      ACT Fire Brigade: Manages fire emergencies across the Australian Capital Territory

      ACT Emergency Services Agency: Provide emergency assistance following a disaster

       

      New South Wales

      NSW Fire and Rescue Service: Manages fire emergencies in NSW’s major cities and towns

      NSW Rural Fire Service: Manages fire emergencies in regional NSW

      NSW State Emergency Service: Provide emergency assistance following a disaster

       

      Northern Territory

      NT Police, Fire and Emergency Services: Manages fire emergencies across the Northern Territory

       

      Queensland

      QLD Fire and Rescue Service: Manages fire emergencies across Queensland

      QLD State Emergency Service: Provide emergency assistance following a disaster

       

      South Australia

      SA Metropolitan Fire Service: Manages fire emergencies in the Adelaide metropolitan area

      SA Country Fire Service: Manages fire emergencies in regional South Australia

      SA State Emergency Service: Provide emergency assistance following a disaster

       

      Tasmania

      Tasmanian Fire Service: Manages fire emergencies across Tasmania

      State Emergency Service: Provide emergency assistance following a disaster

       

      Victoria

      Country Fire Authority: Manages fire emergencies in regional Victoria

      Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board: Manages fire emergencies in the Melbourne metropolitan area

      Victoria State Emergency Service: Provide emergency assistance following a disaster

       

      Western Australia

      WA Fire and Emergency Services Authority: Manages fire emergencies across Western Australia

       

      Current information on safety and security can be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States or a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444 for callers from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).  You can also stay up to date by bookmarking ourBureau of Consular Affairs website.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook, and download our free Smart Traveler iPhone App to have travel information at your fingertips.

       

      If you are going to live in or travel to Australia, please take the time to tell us about your trip by enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency.  You should remember to keep all of your information in STEP up to date.  It is important during enrollment or updating of information to include your current phone number and current email address where you can be reached in case of an emergency.

  • South Pacific Tropical Cyclone Season - Dec 2012

    South Pacific Tropical Cyclone Season - Dec 2012

    • December 20, 2012 

      The United States Mission in Australia alerts U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to the South Pacific region about the ongoing threat of tropical cyclones affecting the area.  While tropical cyclones in the South Pacific may occur throughout the year, the South Pacific Tropical Cyclone Season began on November 1 and ends April 30.  U.S. citizens living in or traveling to the region should monitor local weather reports and take other appropriate action as needed.   

      Each tropical cyclone season, the South Pacific region experiences approximately nine tropical cyclones, about half of which reach Category 3 intensity, or above, and have the potential to cause severe destruction.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recommends that people livingor traveling in regions prone to tropical storms and tropical cyclones be prepared; for further information about tropical cyclone preparedness, please visit NOAA's Tropical Cyclones Preparedness Guide

      Severe tropical cyclones have caused death, injury, and extensive property damage.  Many U.S. citizens traveling in this region during tropical cyclone season were forced to delay their return to the United States or other travel because of infrastructure damage to airports and limited flight availability.  Roads were washed out or blocked by debris, impeding access to airports and land routes out of affected areas.  In the event of a tropical cyclone, you may not be able to depart an affected area for 24 to 48 hours or more, particularly if you are residing in or visiting a South Pacific Island country where air service is limited.

      You also may encounter uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous conditions after storms pass.  In many places, tropical cyclones are often accompanied by damaging high tides and flooding.  If you are living or staying close to the ocean or other bodies of water, you may be at higher risk. Landslides and mudslides also are a serious concern during periods of heavy rain.  Looting and sporadic violence sometimes occur after natural disasters.  Be sure to check with local authorities for safety and security updates. Weather conditions or damage to infrastructure may delay or prevent needed assistance from U.S. embassy and host country security personnel.

      If the damage in the aftermath of a storm requires evacuation, the Department of State and our embassies and consulates overseas work to identify and recommend the safest and most efficient means of travel away from the disaster. Commercial airlines are the best, and often least expensive, source of transportation in an evacuation.  The Department arranges other means of transport, including U.S. military support, only as a last resort when commercial transportation is completely unavailable.  The Department of State does not provide free transportation, but it has the authority to provide you a loan to return to the United States if you are in financial need. You should always obtain travel insurance to cover unexpected expenses during an emergency, as well as medical insurance with provision for emergency medical evacuations to the United States.  Commercial medical evacuations can cost $100,000 or more, and may not be covered by your insurance.

      If you are living in or traveling to storm-prone regions overseas, you should prepare by organizing a kit containing a supply of bottled water, non-perishable food items, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio and vital documents, including your passport, and/or birth certificate and other photo identification, in a waterproof container.  Emergency shelters often have access only to basic resources and limited medical and food supplies.

      Be sure to monitor local media to stay aware of weather developments.  For further information on tropical cyclone warnings in the South Pacific region, please consult the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Honolulu, and the National Weather Service’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center warnings in the South Pacific region, Fiji's regional meteorological center responsible for tropical cyclone, or the Government of Australia's Bureau of Meteorology.

      Minor tropical storms can develop into tropical cyclones very quickly, limiting the time available for you to evacuate safely.  Tell family and friends in the United States of your whereabouts, and keep in close contact with your tour operator, hotel staff, and local officials for evacuation instructions in the event of a weather emergency.  Please protect your travel and identity documents against loss or damage, as the need to replace lost documentation could delay or otherwise complicate your return to the United States.

      Northern Territory

      For U.S. Citizens resident in the Northern Territory (NT), the NT Government provides extensive information about emergency services. In a time of emergency the web site has useful public safety advice with external links to the Bureau of Meteorology, Road Conditions with guidance on preparing for emergencies and recovering from Emergencies. 

      Queensland

      For U.S. Citizens resident in Queensland’s Cyclone Belt, the Queensland State Government and local municipalities provide extensive information about emergency services.

      In a time of emergency, many Queensland authorities alert residents about evacuation procedures and other valuable information via social media. You can receive information from the Queensland State Emergency Service and the Cairns Regional Council Disaster Coordination Centre by following them on Facebook. You can also receive information from the Queensland State Police and the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service by following their Twitter feed.

      Western Australia

      For U.S. Citizens resident in Western Australia, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services provides alerts and warnings for cyclones and other emergencies affecting Western Australia. Additionally, cyclone safety information guide and emergency preparedness information is available.

      Australia-wide: 

       -  Dial 000
      (triple zero) for immediate assistance from the police, ambulance service or fire brigade.

       -  The Bureau of Meteorology provides the most updated weather information and warnings countrywide.

       -  Emergency Management Australia coordinates emergency responses across the country.

      If you require non-emergency storm related assistance, contact the State Emergency Service (SES) at 132-500.

      If you do not have regular internet access, state authorities recommend keeping a battery powered radio tuned to your local ABC station. In times of emergencies they broadcast regular messages with local guidance.

      We encourage all U.S. citizens abroad to enroll with the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) or with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  By enrolling, you can receive the embassy's or consulate's most recent safety and security updates during your trip.  Enrolling also ensures that we can reach you, or your designated emergency points of contact, during an emergency.  Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, as well as the Worldwide Caution. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.  While consular officers will do their utmost to assist you in a crisis, please be aware that local authorities have primary responsibility for the welfare of people living or traveling in their jurisdictions.

      You will find additional information on cyclones and storm preparedness on the Bureau of Consular Affairs' Hurricane Season - Know Before You Go website.  You can receive updated information on travel in cyclone-prone regions from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the United States and Canada, or from other areas, 1-202-501- 4444.  If you travel in the region, please check the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate that has consular responsibilities for the territory you will be visiting.  For further information, please consult the Country Specific Information website for the appropriate country or territory.

      Contact the U.S. Consulate General for up-to-date information on travel restrictions.  You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free from within the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

      Follow us on Twitter, and Facebook, and download our free Smart Traveler iPhone App to have travel information at your fingertips.

  • U.S. Global Entry Program Trial in Australia - Dec 2012

    U.S. Global Entry Program Trial in Australia - Dec 2012

    • December 7, 2012

      As of November 1, 2012, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service began a four-month trial extending Australia's automated border processing system, “SmartGate,” to U.S. Global Entry Program members.

       What is SmartGate?

      SmartGate gives eligible travelers the option to self-process through passport control upon arrival in Australia.  It is an automatic border control system which uses the data in an ePassport and facial recognition technology to perform the checks which are usually manually completed by Australian Customs & Border Protection Officers.  SmartGate kiosks are available in Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, and Darwin. 

      The trial is expected to last four months, with a view to eventually extending SmartGate access to all U.S. ePassport holders.

       Eligibility:

      To be eligible to use SmartGate, U.S. travelers must:

      For more information, or to enroll in the Global Entry Program, please refer to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website.

  • VOTING: Last Minute Voting Assistance - Oct 2012

    VOTING: Last Minute Voting Assistance - Oct 2012

    • 25 October 2012

      Embassies and consulates are not polling places.  The majority of states require voted ballots to reach local election officials by the close of polls on Tuesday, November 6.  U.S. citizens who want to participate in the 2012 U.S. elections should already have returned their absentee ballots to their local election officialsU.S. embassies and consulates are not polling places; same-day in-person voting is not available outside the United States.

      Ballot not yet sent to local election officials?  All voters who wish to participate in this election who have not yet sent their ballots to their local election officials should consider returning their ballot to the United States via an express courier service such as FedEx, UPS, or DHL.  Some states or counties may allow you to return your voted ballot electronically.  Check your state’s voting procedures at www.FVAP.gov for guidance. 

      Returning your Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot by email or fax.  The following states allow voters to use email or fax to send signed, voted Federal Write-in Absentee Ballots to local election officials:  Arizona, California (fax only), Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia.  Check your state’s voting procedures at www.FVAP.gov for guidance.

      Returning ballots via express courier service.  Voters can hire express courier companies such as UPS, DHL, and FedEx to return voted ballots.  Through October 31, FedEx is offering discounted shipping for last-minute voters in 94 countries through the Express Your Vote program.  Ballots sent to local election officials via express courier service do not receive standard postmarks, so voters using this method should confirm delivery on or before November 6 prior to payment and shipment.

      Returning your ballot by mail.  Ballots sent via mail at this late date are unlikely to reach local election officials by state ballot receipt deadlines.  If you still wish to send your voted ballot via mail, place your voted ballot in a U.S. postage-paid envelope addressed to your local election officials.  Drop it off at the U.S. Consulate General, Sydney, or mail it to our office at the following address:

      U.S. Consulate General
      ATTN: Voting Assistance Officers
      Level 10, 19-29 Martin Place
      Sydney, NSW, 2000

      We’ll send it back home for you without the need to pay international postage.  If you can’t visit the Consulate General, Sydney in person, ask a friend or colleague drop it off for you.  If it’s easier for you to use Australia's postal system, be sure to affix sufficient international postage, and allow sufficient time for international mail delivery. 

      Until October 31, voters in Australia can take advantage of FedEx’s Express Your Vote Program for discounted delivery (around $25 per ballot) direct to local election officials.  Ballots sent by individual voters via courier service must arrive by Election Day regardless of ballot receipt deadlines.

      Need help?  You can get in-person assistance from our Consulate General Voting Assistance Officers at American Citizen Services, U.S. Consulate General, Level 10, 19-29 Martin Place, Sydney, NSW, 2000 between 08.00 am and 16.00 pm during business days.

      Have Questions?  Please contact U.S. Consulate General, Sydney Voting Assistance Officer at 02 9373 9200 between 13.30 pm and 15.30 pm, weekdays, or at VoteSydney@state.gov.

      Confirm your registration and ballot delivery online.  Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program's (FVAP) website.

  • VOTING: Returning Absentee Ballots - Oct 2012

    VOTING: Returning Absentee Ballots - Oct 2012

    • 4 October 2012

      Absentee ballots already delivered to overseas voters.  Please vote and take steps to return your voted ballot promptly so your vote will count.  See instructions below.

      Returning your ballot by mail.  When using Australia's postal system, be sure to affix sufficient international postage, and allow sufficient time for international mail delivery.  If time is limited, you may want to use a private courier service (e.g., FedEx, UPS, or DHL) to meet your state's ballot receipt deadline.

      Drop your ballot off in person.  Place your voted ballot in a U.S. postage-paid envelope containing the address of your local election officials.  Drop it off at the Consulate, and we’ll send it back home for you without the need to pay international postage.  If you can’t visit the Consulate in person, ask a friend or colleague to drop it off for you. You may drop off your voted ballot in person between 8:30am – 4:00pm Monday to Friday at the following address:

      U.S. Consulate General
      Level 10, 19-29 Martin Place
      Sydney, 2000 NSW

      To guarantee the return of your ballot before the election date you must submit your voted ballot to the Consulate no later than October 29, 2012.

      Returning your ballot by email or fax.  Some states allow these options, but may also require you to still mail in the signed paper ballot.  Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program's website at www.FVAP.gov.

      Haven’t received your ballot yet?  Use the emergency write-in ballot.  U.S. citizens who requested an absentee ballot but haven’t received it should go to www.FVAP.gov to complete a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot.  Follow the above guidance for returning your ballot.  If you later receive your regular absentee ballot, vote and return it immediately.  Local election officials will count just one ballot per voter, and will use the regular ballot if received by your state’s ballot receipt deadline.

      Forgot to register or request an absentee ballot?  Act immediately!  There are three options.

      Option #1:  Register and request a ballot today using the federal post card application at www.FVAP.gov.  Select the electronic ballot delivery option, include your email address (and fax number) and send it to local election officials in your state.  Almost every state lets you submit it by email or fax.  Once your application is processed they will send you your ballot via fax or email depending on your state.  Vote as soon as you receive the blank ballot.  Registration deadlines vary and some are as early as October 7, so check your state’s requirements carefully.

      Option#2:  Follow the instructions in Option #1, but also complete and send in a Federal Write-in Ballot at the same time to make sure your vote is counted.  Vote and submit your regular absentee ballot if/when it arrives.  Local election officials will count just one ballot per voter, and will use the regular ballot if it's received by the ballot receipt deadline.

      Have Questions?  If you have any questions about registering to vote, please contact the U.S. Consulate General, Sydney at VoteSydney@state.gov  or alternatively you can call the U.S. Consulate General on (02) 9373 9200 between 1:30 - 3:30pm (Sydney Time), regular business days.

      Confirm your registration and ballot delivery online.  Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program's (FVAP) website at www.FVAP.gov.

  • Emergency Message: Planned Protests in Australia - Sept 22-23, 2012

    Emergency Message: Planned Protests in Australia - Sept 22-23, 2012

    • September 21, 2012

      Sydney law enforcement authorities have advised of possible anti-American demonstrations in Sydney for Saturday, September 22 and Sunday, September 23.   U.S. citizens should avoid Sydney’s Hyde Park and its perimeter area and Martin Place on both Saturday, September 22 and Sunday, September 23.  Previous demonstrations in Sydney on September 15, 2012 occurred in Martin Place and Hyde Park and turned violent. 

      Melbourne law enforcement authorities have also advised of possible anti-American protests in downtown Melbourne on Saturday, September 22 and Sunday, September 23.  Should they occur, U.S. citizens should avoid the immediate demonstration areas.  

      Perth law enforcement authorities have advised of possible demonstrations in Perth for Sunday, September 23. U.S. citizens should avoid Perth’s King’s Park, the area around Parliament House, Forrest Place, and Hyde Park.

      Fast-forming anti-American protests in Australia remain possible.  U.S. citizens should in all cases avoid any political demonstrations that may develop and continue to monitor the Australian media and Consulate messages to obtain the latest information.  In the event an anti-American demonstration develops, U.S. citizens should leave the area promptly.  

      The Department of State remains concerned about the threat of violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world.  U.S. citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance, to be aware of their surroundings and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness.  The U.S. Consulate General has advised its staff members to avoid attracting attention to themselves as U.S. citizens.  For additional information on maintaining a discreet profile, please refer to "A Safe Trip Abroad".  

       U.S. government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert.  These facilities may temporarily close or periodically suspend public services to assess their security posture.  In those instances, U.S. embassies and consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens.  U.S. citizens abroad are urged to monitor the local news and maintain contact with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

      The Department of State encourages U.S. citizens living overseas or planning to travel abroad to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  When you enroll in STEP, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. Enrolling will also make it easier for the Embassy to contact you in the event of an emergency.  You should remember to keep all of your information in STEP up to date; it is particularly important when you enroll or update your information to include a current phone number and e-mail address.

      Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or a regular toll line at +1-202-501-4444 for callers from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).  You can also stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution, by “following” the Bureau of Consular Affairs on Twitter and “liking” the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook.

      The Consulate General will continue to monitor the information it receives and will provide updates as needed.

  • Emergency Message: Sydney Protests - Sept 16 2012

    Emergency Message: Sydney Protests - Sept 16 2012

    • September 16, 2012

      Violent demonstrations targeting the U.S. Consulate General in Sydney occurred on Saturday, September 15, 2012.  The Australian authorities have prepared for possible additional protests on Sunday, September 16, 2012.  U.S. citizens should avoid the Central Business District (CBD) of Sydney for the remainder of Sunday, September 16.

      The Department of State remains concerned about the threat of violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world.  U.S. citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness.   U.S. citizens should avoid political demonstrations and continue to monitor the Australian media and Consulate messages to obtain the latest information.  In the event an anti-American demonstration develops, U.S. citizens should leave the area promptly. 

      The Consulate General will continue to monitor the information it receives and will provide updates as needed.

      For the latest security information, U.S. citizens living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution, Public Announcements and Travel Warnings can be found.  Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-800-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll line on 1-317-472-2328.  These numbers are available from 8.00am to 8.00pm Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, except U.S. federal holidays.

  • Preparing for Bush Fire Season - Sept 2012

    Preparing for Bush Fire Season - Sept 2012

    • September 11, 2012

      U.S. Consulate General, Sydney, advises U.S. citizens in Australia to take precautionary measures to protect themselves and their property against the danger of bush fires.

      The Australian bush fire season runs from October to May, and local authorities are anticipating a difficult season this year.  State and territorial emergency services in Australia provide up-to-date information on bush fires and advice on precautionary measures that can help minimize fire-related risks.  These steps include cutting back overhanging trees on your property, clearing gutters, and keeping a water hose long enough to reach every part of your home.

      Information on emergency services in Australia is provided below.  U.S. citizens are also advised to monitor local television and radio, as media reporting may be the best resource for breaking news on fire conditions.  Please feel free to share this message with your fellow U.S. citizens.

      Australia-wide:

      • Dial 000 (triple zero) for immediate assistance from the police, ambulance service or fire brigade.
      • The Bureau of Meteorology provides the most updated weather information and warnings countrywide.
      • Emergency Management Australia coordinates emergency response across the country.

       

      Australian Capital Territory

       

      New South Wales:

       

      Northern Territory:

       

      Queensland:

       

      South Australia:

       

      Tasmania:

       

      Victoria:

       

      Western Australia:

       

      Current information on safety and security can be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States or a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444 for callers from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).  You can also stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook, and download our free Smart Traveler iPhone App to have travel information at your fingertips.

      If you are going to live in or travel to Australia, please take the time to tell us about your trip by enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency.  You should remember to keep all of your information in STEP up to date.  It is important during enrollment or updating of information to include your current phone number and current email address where you can be reached in case of an emergency.

  • July 4th Voting Reminder - Jun 2012

    July 4th Voting Reminder - Jun 2012

    • June 21, 2012

      Happy 4th of July!  U.S. citizens around the globe will soon mark the 236th anniversary of our Nation’s Independence Day with family and community gatherings, food, and fireworks.  For U.S. citizens living outside the United States, the 4th of July is an opportunity for all of us, regardless of political affiliation, to celebrate our shared values as citizens of the United States of America. 

      Have a say in our country’s future.  One of our most treasured values is the right and the privilege to vote – to participate actively in our country’s democratic process.  This November, U.S. citizens will elect a President, a Vice President, one-third of the Senate, and the entire House of Representatives.  The U.S.  Consulate General, Sydney encourages all U.S. citizens to participate in this year’s elections, and stands ready to help you vote.  

      Almost all overseas U.S. citizens can vote.  Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia now allow adult children who have never resided in the United States to vote using their parents’ state of voting residence.  Details are available on the FVAP website at http://www.fvap.gov/reference/nvr-res.html

      Register and request a ballot.  To vote, new laws require you to complete and submit a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) this calendar year.  The FPCA allows you to register to vote and request an absentee ballot.  If you haven’t yet done so, we urge you to do so now.  The easiest way to complete it is online at www.FVAP.gov.  Depending on your State’s rules, you then send it to your local election officials electronically or by mail.

      Mailing guidance.  Print out the completed FPCA and the (U.S.) postage-paid envelope containing the address of your local election officials.  You can drop off the postage-paid envelope (containing your FPCA) at the U.S. Consulate General, Sydney and we will mail it back home for you without the need to pay international postage.  If it’s easier for you to use Australia's postal system, be sure to affix sufficient international postage and allow sufficient time for international mail delivery. 

      If you are unable to drop off your postage-paid envelope (containing your FPCA) at the U.S. Consulate General, Sydney you are welcome to mail it to the following address: 

              U.S. Consulate General
              American Citizens Services (ACS)
              Level 10, MLC Centre
              19-29 Martin Place
              Sydney, NSW 2000

      Please be aware that pouch services from the U.S. Consulate General, Sydney to the U.S. take roughly 3 to 4 weeks.

      Make your vote count!  Follow your State’s absentee voting procedures carefully.  Send in your FPCA before the registration deadline.   When you get your ballot, vote and mail it promptly so it reaches local election officials by your State’s absentee ballot receipt deadline.

      Questions?  If you have any questions about registering to vote, please contact the U.S. Consulate General, Sydney at SydneyACS@state.gov  or alternatively you can call the U.S. Consulate General on (02) 9373 9200 between 1:30 - 3:30pm (Sydney Time), regular business days.

      IMPORTANT INFORMATION:  New absentee voting laws are in effect for the 2012 elections.  You may no longer automatically receive ballots based on a previous absentee ballot request.  All U.S. citizens outside the United States who want to vote by absentee ballot in U.S. elections should complete a new Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) every year.  States are now required to send out ballots 45 days before an election.  No matter what State you vote in, you can now ask your local election officials to provide your blank ballots to you electronically (by email, internet download, or fax, depending on your State).  You can now also confirm your registration and ballot delivery online.  Be sure to include your email address on the form to take advantage of the electronic ballot delivery option.  This is the fastest and most reliable way to receive your ballot on time, and we strongly recommend every voter take advantage of it.  Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program's (FVAP) website at www.FVAP.gov

  • Flooding in Queensland - Jan 2012

    Flooding in Queensland - Jan 2012

    • January 26, 2012

      The Department of State has issued this warning to alert U.S. citizens of inclement weather in Queensland.  Torrential rain fall in parts of the state have led to flooding and road closures.  U.S. citizens are encouraged to monitor local weather conditions and exercise caution when travelling to affected areas.

      For up to date information, please visit the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology website.

      You can stay in touch and get Embassy updates by checking the U.S. Consulate General Sydney web site.  You can also get global updates at the U.S. Department of State's, Bureau of Consular Affairs website where you can find the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well, or you can download our free Smart Traveler iPhone App for travel information at your fingertips.  If you don't have internet access, current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States, or, for callers from other countries, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

      If you are going to live in or travel to Australia, please take the time to tell us about your trip by enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.  It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency.  You should remember to keep all of your information in STEP up to date.  It is important during enrollment or updating of information to include your current phone number and current email address where you can be reached in case of an emergency.

  • Worldwide Caution - Jan 2012

    Worldwide Caution - Jan 2012

    • January 25, 2012

      The Department of State has issued this Worldwide Caution to update information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world.  U.S. citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness.  This replaces the Worldwide Caution dated July 26, 2011, to provide updated information on security threats and terrorist activities worldwide.

      The Department of State remains concerned about the continued threat of terrorist attacks, demonstrations, and other violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests overseas.  Current information suggests that al-Qaida, its affiliated organizations, and other terrorist organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in multiple regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics including suicide operations, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, and bombings.

      Extremists may elect to use conventional or non-conventional weapons, and target both official and private interests.  Examples of such targets include high-profile sporting events, residential areas, business offices, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, public areas, and other tourist destinations both in the United States and abroad where U.S. citizens gather in large numbers, including during holidays.

      U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure.  Extremists have targeted and attempted attacks on subway and rail systems, aviation, and maritime services.  In the past several years, these types of attacks have occurred in cities such as Moscow, London, Madrid, Glasgow, and New York City.

      EUROPE:  Current information suggests that al-Qaida, its affiliated organizations and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. and Western interests in Europe. European governments have taken action to guard against terrorist attack, and some have spoken publicly about the heightened threat conditions.  In the past several years, attacks have been planned or occurred in various European cities.

      MIDDLE EAST and NORTH AFRICA:  Credible information indicates terrorist groups also seek to continue attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle East and North Africa.  For example, Iraq remains dangerous and unpredictable.  U.S. military forces have withdrawn as of December 31, 2011 but the threat of attacks against U.S. citizens, including kidnapping and terrorist violence, is expected to continue.  Methods of attack have included roadside improvised explosive devices, mortars, and shootings.  Security threat levels remain high in Yemen due to terrorist activities there.  The U.S. Embassy has had to close several times in response to ongoing threats by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).  U.S. citizens as well as other Westerners have been targeted for attack in Yemen.  U.S. citizens have also been the targets of numerous terrorist attacks in Lebanon in the past (though none recently) and the threat of anti-Western terrorist activity continues to exist there.  In Algeria, terrorist attacks occur regularly, particularly in the Kabylie region of the country.  In the past, terrorists have targeted oil processing facilities in both Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Some elements in Iran remain hostile to the United States.  U.S. citizens should remain cautious and be aware that there may be a more aggressive focus by the Iranian government on terrorist activity against U. citizens.

      The events of last year's Arab Spring, which affected many countries in the Middle East including Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria, have resulted in civil unrest and large-scale protests and demonstrations.  U.S. citizens are warned that demonstrations intended to be peaceful can escalate into violent clashes.  U.S. citizens are reminded that demonstrations and riots can occur with little or no warning.  U.S. citizens are urged to avoid areas of demonstrations if possible and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of a demonstration.

      AFRICA:  A number of al-Qaida operatives and other extremists are believed to be operating in and around Africa.  Since the July 11, 2010 terrorist bombings in Kampala, Uganda, for which the Somalia-based, U.S. - designated Foreign Terrorist Organization al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility, there have been increased threats against public areas across East Africa.  The terrorist attacks of October 2011 against the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and African Union (AU) peacekeeping forces in Somalia, as well as the grenade attacks against a nightclub and bus stop in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, highlight the vulnerabilities to terrorist attacks in East Africa and around the world.  Additionally, the terrorist group al-Qaida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has declared its intention to attack Western targets throughout the Sahel (which includes Mali, Mauritania, and Niger).  It has claimed responsibility for kidnappings, attempted kidnappings, and the murder of several Westerners throughout the region, including southern Algeria. In Nigeria, a group known as Boko Haram claimed responsibility for an August 26, 2011, suicide bombing attack on the United Nations Headquarters in Abuja that killed 25 people and wounded more than 120.

      U.S. citizens considering travel by sea near the Horn of Africa or in the southern Red Sea should exercise extreme caution, as there has been a notable increase in armed attacks, robberies, and kidnappings for ransom by pirates.  Merchant vessels continue to be hijacked in Somali territorial waters, while others have been hijacked as far as 1,000 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia, Yemen, and Kenya in international waters.

      The U.S. government maritime authorities advise mariners to avoid the port of Mogadishu and to remain at least 200 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia.  In addition, when transiting around the Horn of Africa or in the Red Sea, it is strongly recommended that vessels travel in convoys and maintain good communications at all times.  U.S. citizens traveling on commercial passenger vessels should consult with the shipping or cruise ship company regarding precautions that will be taken to avoid hijacking incidents.  Commercial vessels should review the Department of Transportation Maritime Administration's suggested piracy countermeasures for vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden, which can be found at http://www.marad.dot.gov/news_room_landing_page/horn_of_africa_piracy/horn_of_africa_piracy.htm


      SOUTH ASIA:  The U.S. government continues to receive information that terrorist groups in South and Central Asia may also be planning attacks in the region, possibly against U.S. government facilities, U.S. citizens, or U.S. interests.  The presence of al-Qaida and its affiliates [Taliban elements, Lashkar-e-Taiba, indigenous sectarian groups, and other terror organizations], many of which are on the U.S. government's list of Foreign Terror Organizations (FTOs), poses a potential danger to U.S. citizens in the region.  Terrorists and their sympathizers have demonstrated their willingness and ability to attack targets where U.S. citizens or Westerners are known to congregate or visit.  Their actions may include, but are not limited to, vehicle-born explosive attacks, improvised explosive device attacks, assassinations, carjackings, rocket attacks, assaults, or kidnappings.

      Such attacks have occurred in a number of South Asian states, including Pakistan, where a number of extremist groups continue to target U.S. and other Western citizens and interests, and Pakistani government and military/law enforcement personnel.  Suicide bombing attacks continue to occur throughout the country on a regular basis, often targeting government authorities such as police checkpoints and military installations, as well as public areas such as mosques, and shopping areas.  Kidnappings of U.S. citizens are also on the increase.  In Afghanistan, remnants of the former Taliban regime and the al-Qaida terrorist network, as
      well as other groups hostile to International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)/NATO military operations, remain active.  There is an ongoing threat of kidnapping and assassination of U.S. citizens and Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) workers throughout the country. There is an increased threat of terrorism in India.  Terrorists have targeted public places in India frequented by Westerners, including luxury and other hotels, trains, train stations, markets, cinemas, mosques, and restaurants in large urban areas.

      CENTRAL ASIA:  Supporters of terrorist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, al-Qaida, the Islamic Jihad Union, and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement are active in the Central Asian region. Members of these groups have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and attacked U.S. government interests in the past.  Previous terrorist attacks conducted in Central Asia have involved improvised explosive devices, suicide bombings, assassinations, and kidnappings.

      EAST ASIA: Regional and international terrorist organizations remain active in the region and have attacked U.S. interests in the past.

      Before You Go

      The Department of State encourages U.S. citizens living overseas or planning to travel abroad to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  When you enroll in STEP, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.  Enrolling will also make it easier for the Embassy to contact you in the event of an emergency.  You should remember to keep all of your information in STEP up to date; it is particularly important when you enroll or update your information to include a current phone number and e-mail address.

      U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security.  For additional information, please refer to "A Safe Trip Abroad" on our website, http://travel.state.gov/.

      U.S. government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert.  These facilities may temporarily close or periodically suspend public services to assess their security posture.  In those instances, U.S. embassies and consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens abroad are urged to monitor the local news and maintain contact with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

      As the Department of State continues to develop information on potential security threats to U.S. citizens overseas, it shares credible threat information through its Consular Information Program documents, including Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, Country Specific Information, and Emergency Messages, all of which are available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website at http://travel.state.gov/.  Stay up to date by bookmarking our website or downloading our free Smart Traveler iPhone App for travel information at your fingertips.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.

      In addition to information on the internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, from other countries, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Friday, Eastern Time (except U.S. federal holidays).

  • 2012 Election Cycle Begins Now - Dec 2011

    2012 Election Cycle Begins Now - Dec 2011

    • December 23, 2011

      Be an active voter. Start thinking about your participation in the U.S. 2012 elections today!

      The Consular Section staff at the U.S. Consulate General in Sydney is ready to assist with completing your Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) -- the form you need to complete this year to participate in the 2012 elections as an overseas absentee voter. Our purpose is to inform and educate you about your voting rights, to ensure you are able to exercise your right to participate in elections for federal offices (President, Vice President, Senator, and Representative), and to assist you with voting in state or local elections, if allowed by your state.

      New absentee voting laws are in effect for the 2012 elections. You will no longer automatically receive ballots based on a previous absentee ballot request. All U.S. citizens outside the United States who want to vote by absentee ballot in the 2012 primary and general elections must complete a new Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) every year if they wish to vote from abroad. States are now required to send out ballots 45 days before an election. No matter what state you vote in, you can now ask your local election officials to provide your blank ballots to you electronically (by email, internet download, or fax, depending on your state). You can now also confirm your registration and ballot delivery on-line. Be sure to include your email address on the form to take advantage of the electronic ballot delivery option. This is the fastest and most reliable way to receive your ballot on time, and we strongly recommend every overseas voter take advantage of it. Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program's (FVAP) website - http://www.fvap.gov/.

      Beginning in January 2012, presidential primaries will be held in the states of New Hampshire (January 10), South Carolina (January 21), Florida (January 31), Missouri (February 7), Wisconsin (February 21), Arizona (February 28), and Michigan (February 28). Other states will follow throughout the spring and summer. Voter registration deadlines for primaries are as early as January 3, 2012. Note: Participation in party presidential caucuses by overseas voters is not protected by federal law and requires in-person attendance in most cases. If the party you are affiliated with selects presidential nominees by caucus in your state contact state party officials for further information.

      You can obtain a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) at FVAP’s website. The FPCA is accepted by all local election officials in all U.S. states and territories. It allows you to register to vote and request absentee ballots for all elections for federal offices (presidential and state primaries, run-off, special, and the November general elections) during the course of the year. An online wizard will help you complete the form. Depending on your state’s voting requirements, you then either send in the FPCA electronically or mail it to your local election officials. To mail it, print out the completed FPCA and the (U.S.) postage-paid envelope containing the address of your local election officials. If you bring in your forms or ballots to us we will mail them back home for you without you having to pay for international mail. If it’s easier for you to use Australia's postal system, be sure to affix sufficient postage and allow sufficient time for international mail delivery.

      Voters who wish to submit their FPCA or ballot using the Sydney Consulate’s pouch system can do so by attending the Consulate between the hours of 1:00pm – 3:00pm on regular business days. The Consulate will have a voting box on Level 10 of the MLC Centre where these forms can be submitted. Please note that the Consulate is closed on U.S. and Australian public holidays. Using the Diplomatic pouch system to return an FPCA or ballot is a free service; however please allow up to two weeks transit time.

      Even if your state does not have a presidential primary in the early months of 2012, it is important that you submit a new Federal Post Card Application this and every January to receive all absentee ballots for which you are eligible. By applying early, you also allow enough time for election officials to contact you and resolve any questions or problems with your registration/ballot request. 

      Remember that your vote counts, and that many U.S. elections within the past ten years have been decided by a margin of victory of less than 0.1%. All states are required to count every absentee ballot as long as it's valid and reaches local election officials by the absentee ballot receipt deadline.  Be an Educated Voter. Check out the FVAP links page for helpful resources that will aid your research of candidates and issues. Non-partisan information about candidates, their voting records, and their positions on issues are widely available and easy to obtain via numerous websites such as Project Smart Voter.  You can also read national and hometown newspapers on-line, or search the Internet to locate articles and information. For information about election dates and deadlines, subscribe to FVAP's Voting Alerts (vote@fvap.gov). FVAP also shares Voting Alerts via Facebook and Twitter.

      If you have any questions about registering to vote overseas, please contact The U.S. Consulate General Sydney's Voting Assistance Officers at (02) 9373 9200, or at VoteSydney@state.gov.

  • 2011/2012 Cyclone Season - Dec 2011

    2011/2012 Cyclone Season - Dec 2011

    • December 20, 2011

      The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to the South Pacific region about the ongoing threat of tropical cyclones affecting the area.  While tropical cyclones in the South Pacific may occur throughout the year, the South Pacific Tropical Cyclone Season began on November 1 and ends April 30.  U.S. citizens living in or traveling to the region should monitor local weather reports and take other appropriate action as needed.  This Travel Alert replaces the South Pacific Cyclone Season Travel Alert issued on December 1, 2011 to incorporate technical edits and expires on April 30, 2012.

      Each tropical cyclone season, the South Pacific region experiences approximately nine tropical cyclones, about half of which reach Category 3 intensity, or above, and have the potential to cause severe destruction.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recommends that people living or traveling in regions prone to tropical storms and tropical cyclones be prepared; for further information about tropical cyclone preparedness, please visit NOAA's Tropical Cyclones Preparedness Guide at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/hurricane/resources/TropicalCyclones11.pdf.

      Severe tropical cyclones have caused death, injury, and extensive property damage.  Many U.S. citizens traveling in this region during tropical cyclone season were forced to delay their return to the United States or other travel because of infrastructure damage to airports and limited flight availability.  Roads were washed out or blocked by debris, impeding access to airports and land routes out of affected areas.  In the event of a tropical cyclone, you may not be able to depart an affected area for 24 to 48 hours or more, particularly if you are residing in or visiting a South Pacific Island country where air service is limited.

      You also may encounter uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous conditions after storms pass.  In many places, tropical cyclones are often accompanied by damaging high tides and flooding.  If you are living or staying close to the ocean or other bodies of water, you may be at higher risk. Landslides and mudslides also are a serious concern during periods of heavy rain.  Looting and sporadic violence sometimes occur after natural disasters.  Be sure to check with local authorities for safety and security updates.  Weather conditions or damage to infrastructure may delay or prevent needed assistance from U.S. embassy and host country security personnel.

      If the damage in the aftermath of a storm requires evacuation, the Department of State and our embassies and consulates overseas work to identify and recommend the safest and most efficient means of travel away from the disaster.  Commercial airlines are the best, and often least expensive, source of transportation in an evacuation.  The Department arranges other means of transport, including U.S. military support, only as a last resort when commercial transportation is completely unavailable.  The Department of State does not provide free transportation, but it has the authority to provide you a loan to return to the United States if you are in financial need. You should always obtain travel insurance to cover unexpected expenses during an emergency, as well as medical insurance with provision for emergency medical evacuations to the United States. Commercial medical evacuations can cost $100,000 or more, and may not be covered by your insurance.

      If you are living in or traveling to storm-prone regions overseas, you should prepare by organizing a kit containing a supply of bottled water, non-perishable food items, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio and vital documents, including your passport, and/or birth certificate and other photo identification, in a waterproof container.  Emergency shelters often have access only to basic resources and limited medical and food supplies.

      Be sure to monitor local media to stay aware of weather developments.  For further information on tropical cyclone warnings in the South Pacific region, please consult the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Honolulu at http://www.usno.navy.mil/JTWC and the National Weather
      Service's Central Pacific Hurricane Center, http://www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl/cphc, Fiji's regional meteorological center responsible for tropical cyclone warnings in the South Pacific region at http://www.met.gov.fj/, or the Government of Australia's Bureau of Meteorology at http://www.bom.gov.au/cyclone.

      Minor tropical storms can develop into tropical cyclones very quickly, limiting the time available for you to evacuate safely.  Tell family and friends in the United States of your whereabouts, and keep in close contact with your tour operator, hotel staff, and local officials for evacuation instructions in the event of a weather emergency.  Please protect your travel and identity documents against loss or damage, as the need to replace lost documentation could delay or otherwise complicate your return to the United States.

      We encourage all U.S. citizens abroad to enroll with the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at http://travel.state.gov/step  or with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  By enrolling, you can receive the embassy's or consulate's most recent safety and security updates during your trip.  Enrolling also ensures that we can reach you, or your designated emergency points of contact, during an emergency.  Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, as well as the Worldwide Caution. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.  While consular officers will do their utmost to assist you in a crisis, please be aware that local authorities have primary responsibility for the welfare of people living or traveling in their jurisdictions.

      You will find additional information on cyclones and storm preparedness on the Bureau of Consular Affairs' Hurricane Season - Know Before You Go website.  You can receive updated information on travel in cyclone-prone regions from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the United States and Canada, or from other areas, 1-202-501- 4444.  If you travel in the region, please check the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate that has consular responsibilities for the territory you will be visiting.  For further information, please consult the Country Specific Information website for the appropriate country or territory.

  • Preparing for Bush Fire Season - Oct 2011

    Preparing for Bush Fire Season - Oct 2011

    • October 26, 2011

      The U.S. Department of State advises U.S. citizens in Australia to take precautionary measures to protect themselves and their property against the danger of bush fires.

      The Australian bush fire season runs from October to May, and local authorities are anticipating a difficult season this year.  State and territorial emergency services in Australia provide up-to-date information on bush fires and advice on precautionary measures that can help minimize fire-related risks.  These steps include cutting back overhanging trees on your property, clearing gutters, and keeping a water hose long enough to reach every part of your home.

      Information on emergency services in Australia is provided below.  American citizens are also advised to monitor local television and radio, as media reporting may be the best resource for breaking news on fire conditions.  Please feel free to share this message with your fellow American citizens.

      In all of Australia:

      • Dial 000 (triple zero) for immediate assistance from the police, ambulance service or fire brigade.
      • The Bureau of Meteorology provides the most updated weather information and warnings countrywide.
      • Emergency Management Australia coordinates emergency response across the country.

      Australian Capital Territory

      New South Wales:

      Northern Territory:

      Queensland:

      South Australia:

      Tasmania:

      Victoria:

      Western Australia:

       

      Travel information is also available at http://www.travel.state.gov/. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at +1-202-501-4444.

      The Department of State encourages American citizens abroad to register with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General in their region.  To register, American citizens utilize the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/.

  • Worldwide Travel Alert - Oct 2011

    Worldwide Travel Alert - Oct 2011

    • October 1, 2011

      The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the potential for retaliation against U.S. citizens and interests following the deaths of key figures in the terrorist group al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula on September 30. This Travel Alert expires on November 30, 2011.

      On 30 September, U.S. and Yemeni government officials confirmed that dual U.S.-Yemeni citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, the external operations leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), was killed in Yemen. Open source information also indicates that U.S. citizen and AQAP propagandist Samir Khan was killed along with him. Awlaki played a key role in advancing AQAP plots targeting the United States.

      The death of Awlaki, in the near term, could provide motivation for anti-American attacks worldwide from individuals or groups seeking to retaliate against U.S. citizens or interests because of this action. In the past Awlaki and other members of AQAP have called for attacks against the United States, U.S. citizens and U.S. interests. Awlaki's standing as a preeminent English-language advocate of violence could potentially trigger anti-American acts worldwide to avenge his death.

      U.S. citizens are encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). U.S. citizens without internet access may enroll directly at the nearest U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate. By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the embassy/consulates to contact them in case of emergency.

      Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

      Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.

      For information on “What the Department of State Can and Can't Do in a Crisis,” please visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs' Emergencies and Crisis link at: http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/emergencies/emergencies_1212.html

  • Queensland Flooding - Jan 2011

    Queensland Flooding - Jan 2011

    • QUEENSLAND FLOODING - JANUARY 10, 2011

      Over the past several weeks parts of Queensland and northern New South Wales have seen record levels of rainfall and subsequent flooding, resulting in many thousands of residents being forced from their homes. Current weather forecasts predict that significant rain will continue to fall in the days and weeks ahead. Queensland and Australian federal emergency services are coordinating efforts to assist affected residents. The U.S. Consulate General in Sydney encourages all Americans living in Queensland and northern New South Wales to remain aware of their situation and to follow the directions of emergency authorities.

      If you have urgent concerns that you think are not being addressed, or critical information about conditions in your area that you wish to bring to our immediate attention, please respond to this message at SydneyACS@state.gov, or telephone the American Citizen Services Unit at the U.S. Consulate General in Sydney during business hours at (02) 9373-9200. An alternate number for reaching us after hours for emergencies is (04) 1621 7662 or the American Citizen Services Unit Chief at (04) 0295 6075.

      Additionally, the U.S. Consulate General in Sydney can provide assistance to American citizens affected by the floods by replacing lost or damaged U.S. passports and providing information on replacing other important documents that may become lost in the flooding, such as birth certificates and marriage certificates.

      We also urge all Americans planning to visit the affected regions to review carefully their travel plans, as many roads and communities are cut-off by flood waters. For the most current flood information, please refer to http://www.qld.gov.au/floods/.

      For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Alerts can be found. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-800-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll line on 1-317-472-2328. These numbers are available from 8.00am to 8.00pm Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, except U.S. federal holidays.

  • Changes in Overseas Voting - Apr 2010

    Changes in Overseas Voting - Apr 2010

    • New Law Makes Absentee Voting Easier for Overseas Americans

      On October 28, 2009, Congress enacted the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act. This legislation amends existing law regarding overseas voting in federal elections, and should make voting easier for overseas Americans.

      New Procedures for 2010 Elections

      Beginning with the November 2010 general election, and for all subsequent general, special, and primary elections, states will be required to mail out ballots at least 45 days prior to an election for a federal office. This requirement may cause some states to select earlier primary dates in order to comply with the 45 day mailing deadline, or to request waivers due to special circumstances.

      In addition to mailing ballots to overseas voters, the states will be required, at the voter's request, to provide registration forms, absentee ballot request forms, and blank ballots via fax or email. However, each state's laws determine whether ballot requests or voted ballots can be returned via fax or email.  The new law prohibits states from rejecting marked ballots based on notarization, paper size, or paper weight requirements. The witnessing requirements of individual states remain in place.

      Overseas Absentee Ballot Requests

      Effective immediately, states will no longer be required by federal law to continue to mail election materials to overseas addresses (even when they are determined to be invalid) for two complete general election cycles on the basis of a single ballot request. It will now be up to each state to determine how long to continue to send out election materials before requiring overseas voters to submit new ballot requests. This change, sought by local election officials, should greatly decrease the volume of voting materials sent abroad to addresses where Americans no longer reside.

      State Department Recommendations

      In light of these changes, the Department of State recommends that all U.S. voters residing abroad request absentee ballots from their local election officials at the start of each calendar year, and whenever there is a change of address, change of e-mail address, or change of name, by completing and sending in a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). To locate information on your specific state's requirements, and to obtain an on-line version of the FPCA, please visit http://www.fvap.gov. Voters may also pick up a hard copy of the FPCA from any U.S. embassy or consulate. FPCAs may be mailed to your local voting officials in the United States via international mail or from any U.S. embassy or consulate. Many states allow U.S. citizens overseas to submit the FPCA by e-mail or fax.

      The Department of State strongly encourages all U.S. overseas voters to provide email addresses or fax numbers on their FPCAs to enable local election officials to transmit election materials in the fastest manner available, which should then allow sufficient time for the return of voted ballots. For information regarding your specific state, please visit http://www.fvap.gov.

      Emergency Ballots

      The Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) serves as an emergency ballot for the November general elections for federal offices, although some states also permit its use for elections for state and local offices. Beginning in January 2011, the new law allows use of the FWAB for primary, special, and runoff elections for federal offices. Voters who request an absentee ballot in advance of their state's ballot request deadline, but who fail to receive an official ballot from local election officials in time to vote, should complete the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot and send it back to local election officials in time for it to be counted. An on-line version of the FWAB, together with instructions for its use, is available at http://www.fvap.gov.

      Questions?

      The Voting Assistance Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Sydney is also always available to answer questions about absentee voting. To contact the Voting Assistance Officer, call 02-9373-9200 Monday through Friday, between 1:30pm-3:30pm (Eastern Standard Time) or send an e-mail to VoteSydney@state.gov.

  • Options During a Pandemic - Dec 2009

    Options During a Pandemic - Dec 2009

    • Information for American citizens abroad during a pandemic

      The Department of State has released the following guidance for American citizens abroad during a pandemic. Please refer to the information on their website.

Smart Traveler

  • Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) Sign up to STEP through the Department of State’s website to receive updated travel and security information.
  • Smart Traveler App Smart Traveler, the official State Department iPhone app for U.S. travelers, invites you to see the world with easy access to frequently updated official country information, travel alerts, travel warnings, maps, U.S. embassy locations, and more. With Smart Traveler, you can create personal itineraries and organize your trips. Download it from iTunes today.