Smartraveller revamps online travel advice, adds SMS crisis alerts

Travel advice is getting easier to access in an emergency, but most flyers will lose the ability to pre-register their travels.

By Chris Chamberlin, October 18 2019

The Australian Government’s longstanding travel advice service Smartraveller is getting an overhaul, with a new website, changes to how jetsetters can register their international travel plans and receive advice updates, and new SMS emergency alerts.

Launching in November, Smartraveller’s new website aims to make travel warnings “easier to read and navigate”, but the ability for Australians to register most overseas trips will be withdrawn.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) – which oversees Smartraveller – will instead only open registration “when there’s an overseas crisis”. DFAT claims this make it “quicker to respond to those who need our help.”

Currently, any Australian jetting abroad can log the details of their journey through the Smartraveller website, providing the Australian Government with information such as the cities and countries being visited, the hotels being booked and more, so that DFAT can quickly and easily identify Australians that may require assistance in an emergency or other urgent situation.

To that end, the registration form – which is currently rather time-consuming if completed in full – will be simplified, and will appear on the Smartraveller website at the discretion of DFAT, which may also vary by intended destination.

DFAT affirms that “you don’t need to register your travel with us before you leave Australia,” a process that many frequent business travellers already overlook, particularly when travelling to familiar and comparably low-risk destinations.

New Smartraveller SMS, email alerts

Also from November, Australians may be able to opt-in for SMS “crisis alerts” during certain events or for specific destinations. If this is available, the option will appear on the Smartraveller website.

Finally, Smartraveller’s existing email service – which notifies registered users when advice changes for their nominated destinations – will continue to be offered, but users will need to subscribe to these emails again from November once the new Smartraveller website launches, or they’ll no longer be received.

For international travel advice by destination, head to smartraveller.gov.au. Business travellers should also review Smartraveller’s additional advice here.

Also read: Can you travel on a passport within six months of expiry?

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!


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