New Travel Advisory System From the Department of State of the United States

The Department of State of the United States introduced an improved travel advisory system of sharing information on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 with travelers who citizens of the United States — and this systems is designed to provide clear, timely, and reliable safety and security information worldwide.

New Travel Advisory System From the Department of State of the United States

The new travel advisories for each country replace previous travel warnings and travel alerts. Every country will have its own 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. 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 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.
Travel advice levels

Source: Department of State of the United States.

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.

Risk Indicators

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

Here are some real examples of the new travel advisory system — and you can click on each of the graphics to get to the source to see the latest updated information:

Canada

Source: Department of State of the United States.

Saudi Arabia

Source: Department of State of the United States.

Turkey

Source: Department of State of the United States.

Somalia

Source: Department of State of the United States.

Other 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), and follow us on Twitter (@travelgov) and Facebook (facebook.com/travelgov).

Summary

I had no problem with using the former travel advisory system of the Department of State; but I do like the new graphical interface, as I find the revised system to be clearer, easier to understand, and quicker to process the information presented.

One minor change I would suggest is to change the color of Level 1 to green and Level 2 to blue, as I believe the that colors of Levels 2 and 3 are a little too similar upon first glance.

Source: Department of State of the United States.

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