New Travel Advisories for U.S. Travelers

State Department clarifies meaning and reasons for advisories By: Kenneth Shapiro
A new official warning system is in effect for U.S. travelers. // © 2018 Getty Images
A new official warning system is in effect for U.S. travelers. // © 2018 Getty Images

The Details

U.S. Department of State

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of State made improvements to how it shares information with travelers. Under the new system, every country will have a Travel Advisory providing levels of advice, including Level 1 (Exercise Normal Precautions), Level 2 (Exercise Increased Caution), Level 3 (Reconsider Travel) and Level 4 (Do Not Travel). In addition, Travel Advisories will also provide clear reasons for the level assigned, using seven different risk indicators.

Why It Matters:
The Travel Advisories for each country replace previous Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts. For years, the industry has suggested making changes to how Travel Alerts are issued, hoping to make them less confusing and arbitrary. Hopefully, this new system will accomplish those goals. Travel agents should become familiar with the Travel Advisory levels so that they can properly counsel their clients. 

Fast Facts:
- U.S. embassies and consulates will now issue Alerts to replace the current Emergency Messages and Security Messages. Alerts will inform U.S. citizens of specific safety and security concerns in a country, such as demonstrations, crime trends, and weather events.

- The Department’s newly redesigned website for traveler information 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.

- Risk indicators include:
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. 

C - 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. 

T - 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.

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