Department of State to Launch New Travel Advisory System

January 9, 2018: As part of our responsibility to support the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas, the Department of State is improving our communications with U.S. citizen travelers to provide clear, timely, and reliable safety and security information worldwide.

On January 10, 2018, the Bureau of Consular Affairs, which is charged within the State Department with the protection of U.S. citizens abroad, will launch a new Travel Advisory for each country of the world.  The Travel Advisories will replace the previous system of Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts with a single platform using plain language to help U.S. citizens find and use important security information.

On the Travel Advisory page, travelers will find a standard format for each country, including an interactive map.  Each country will be assigned a Travel Advisory Level 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. (Color: Blue)
  • Level 2 – Exercise Increased Caution: Be aware of heightened risks to safety and security.  The Departments of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory.  Conditions in any country may change at any time.  (Color: Yellow)
  • 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. (Color: Orange)
  • 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 to 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. (Color: Red)

While overall levels will be set for each country, some Travel Advisories may include different levels of advice for specific areas within a country.

The Travel Advisory Level will include clear reasons based on established risk indicators and specific advice to U.S. citizens who choose to travel.  These are:

  • 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 also be a factor.  
  • N – Natural Disaster:  A natural disaster, or its aftermath, poses danger.

 

  • E – Time-limited Event:  Short-term event, such as elections, sporting events, or other incidents that may pose safety risks.
  • O – Other:  There are potential risks not covered by previous risk indicators.  Read the country’s Travel Advisory for details.

The Travel Advisories may be supplemented by Alerts, which will replace the previous system of Emergency Messages and Security Messages, to provide timely information to the public in an easy-to-understand format.  Alerts will inform U.S. citizens of specific safety and security concerns in a country, such as demonstrations, crime trends, and weather events.

This new system will be deployed worldwide and does not reflect a change in our security posture toward any particular country.  It was developed over the past year based on feedback about our consular safety and security messaging.

We expect the changes will improve the Department’s ability to inform the public in an efficient and comprehensive manner.  Information will be easier to find, understand, and use.  Travel Advisories will ensure U.S. citizens receive important advice for every country, applying a consistent worldwide standard.

We continue to encourage U.S. citizens traveling overseas to enroll their travel plans in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (step.state.gov), so they can receive important Alerts while traveling.  We will continue to keep U.S. citizen travelers up to date through travel.state.gov, Twitter (@travelgov), and Facebook (facebook.com/travelgov).

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