State Department Updates Method for Issuing Travel Warnings

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The U.S. State Department is updating how it shares travel safety information. The organization is replacing the previous system of travel warnings and travel alerts with a new, four-tier system in which every country receives a travel advisory, with levels of advice ranging from one to four:

  • Level 1 - Exercise Normal Precautions: This is the lowest advisory level for safety and security risk. There is some risk in any international travel. Conditions in other countries may differ from those in the United States and may change at any time.
  • Level 2 - Exercise Increased Caution: Be aware of heightened risks to safety and security. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time.
  • Level 3 - Reconsider Travel: Avoid travel due to serious risks to safety and security. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time.
  • Level 4 - Do Not Travel: This is the highest advisory level due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks. During an emergency, the U.S. government may have very limited ability to provide assistance. The Department of State advises that U.S. citizens not travel to the country or leave as soon as it is safe to do so. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time.

The State Department noted that it may also vary its levels of advice for specific locations within a country. The new advisories will also provide reasons for the level assigned, based on the following risk indicators:

  • C - Crime: Widespread violent or organized crime is present in areas of the country. Local law enforcement may have limited ability to respond to serious crimes. 
  • T - Terrorism: Terrorist attacks have occurred and/or specific threats against civilians, groups, or other targets may exist.
  • U - Civil Unrest: Political, economic, religious, and/or ethnic instability exists and may cause violence, major disruptions, and/or safety risks.
  • H - Health: Health risks, including current disease outbreaks or a crisis that disrupts a country’s medical infrastructure, are present. The issuance of a Centers for Disease Control Travel Notice may be a factor. 
  • N - Natural Disaster: A natural disaster, or its aftermath, poses danger.
  • E - Time-limited Event: A short-term event, such as an election, sporting event, or other incident that may pose a safety risk.
  • O - Other: There are potential risks not covered by previous risk indicators. Read the country’s Travel Advisory for details.

Additionally, U.S. embassies will now issue alerts regarding specific safety and security concerns in a country, such as demonstrations, crime trends and weather events. These alerts will replace the current emergency messages and security messages.

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The new travel advisories are available on the State Department’s redesigned hub for traveler information, travel.state.gov.

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