State Department Issues Worldwide Caution on Travel

Photo by liuzishan/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

The U.S. State Department has issued a new worldwide caution on travel, replacing an earlier caution dated September 9, 2016.

“As terrorist attacks, political upheaval, and violence often take place without any warning, U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness when traveling,” the State Department said on its website.

As a caution, the notification is less severe than previous statements by the State Department over the past year, such as a November 2016 travel alert for Europe that came just ahead of a busy holiday travel season.

What should travelers do? The State Department advises that they enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which will allow them to receive security messages and make it easier for them to be located in an emergence. If an emergency does arise, travelers can contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate or reach out to the following numbers: 1-888-407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. 

Travelers should also bear in mind that U.S. government facilities worldwide may temporarily close or suspend services while they are at a heightened state of alert, although they will still make every effort to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens. The State Department also advised travelers to monitor local news and keep in touch with their nearest embassy or consulate.

The State Department noted that terrorists are increasingly turning to less sophisticated methods to attack large crowds, such as edged weapons, pistols, and vehicles, as in last year’s attack on a Christmas market in Berlin. Additionally, in some regions terrorists and criminal groups are using kidnapping to finance their operations.