U.S. State Department's New Travel Advisory Program

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While traveling the world is exciting, fun, enriching and can provide great business opportunities, health and safety should always take priority. That’s why the US Department of State recently is launching a new travel advisory program that is intended to be more straight forward and provide US citizens with clearer information about what’s going on in each country around the world as relates to risk and health.

U.S. embassies and consulates will now put out alerts to replace the current Emergency Messages and Security Messages, notifying U.S. citizens of specific local safety and security concerns, including political demonstrations, crime patterns, and significant weather events.

The new structure is comprised of a four-tier risk assessment system, with specific details by country. The State Department website also features an interactive color-coded world map.  The four-tier ranking is as follows:

Level 1 - Exercise Normal Precautions: This is the lowest advisory level for safety and security risk.

Level 2 - Exercise Increased Caution: Be aware of heightened risks to safety and security.

Level 3 - Reconsider Travel: Avoid travel due to serious risks to safety and security.

Level 4 - Do Not Travel: 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.

This travel advisory provides a clearer call-to-action than the previous system. If a country is ranked at a level 2 or higher, there are details as to why it is being ranked at such a level. Two countries could both be ranked at a level 2 for completely different reasons. The risk categories provided are crime, terrorism, civil unrest, health, natural disaster, time-limited event, and other.

Advisories will be updated as changes to embassy and traveler safety and security change. With better communication, travelers can stay informed and make better decisions about travel destinations as relates to their personal safety.