The Department of State of the United States introduced an improved travel advisory system of sharing information with travelers who are citizens of the United States last week. The system was redesigned to provide clear, timely, and reliable safety and security information worldwide.
The new travel advisories for each country replace previous travel warnings and travel alerts. Every country will have its own color-coded travel advisory with the new system with levels of advice ranging from 1 to 4; and although the Department of State will issue an overall travel advisory level for every country, levels of advice may vary for specific locations or areas within a country.
The levels are as follows — along with their official colors:
- Level 1 — Exercise Normal Precautions – This is the lowest advisory level for safety and security risk. There is some risk in any international travel.
- 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.
- 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.
- Level 4 — Do Not Travel – This is the highest advisory level due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks. During an emergency, the United States government may have very limited ability to provide assistance. The Department of State advises that United States 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.
Varying Levels Within a Country
The Department of State will issue an overall travel advisory level for a country, but levels of advice may vary for specific locations or areas within a country. For instance, the Department of State may advise citizens of the United States to “Exercise Increased Caution” — which is Level 2 — in a country; but to “Reconsider Travel” — which is Level 3 — to a particular area within the country.
The detailed travel advisories will also will provide clear reasons for the level assigned, using established risk indicators, and offer specific advice to citizens of the United States who choose to travel there:
- 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 the medical infrastructure of a country — 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 — which may pose a safety risk.
- O – Other – There are potential risks not covered by previous risk indicators. Read the travel advisory of the country for details.
Examples of Each Advice Level
Following is an example of the new travel advisory system — and you can click on the graphic to get to the source to see the latest updated information:
The Department of State will review and update each travel advisory as needed, based on changes to security and safety information. Additionally, United States embassies and consulates will now issue alerts to replace the current emergency messages and security messages. Alerts will inform citizens of the United States of specific safety and security concerns in a country — such as demonstrations, crime trends, and weather events.
The Department’s newly-redesigned hub for traveler information, travel.state.gov, will host all Travel Advisories, recent alerts issued for each country, and an interactive map in mobile-friendly formats. Country pages on the site will continue to include all travel information currently available, including details about entry/exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, transportation, and other relevant topics.
To receive security and other important updates while traveling, citizens of the United States can enroll their travel plans in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (step.state.gov), or check the State Department’s social media sites on Twitter (@travelgov) and Facebook (facebook.com/travelgov).
(US State Department)