US Updates Advisories

US Updates AdvisoriesUS Updates Advisories

The State Department last week unveiled four-tiered categories to warn travelers of potential dangers overseas, using commonsense language ranging from “Exercise normal precaution” to “Do not travel.”

The new rankings replace the vague and often confusing system of issuing “travel alerts” for short-term dangers posed by events like health epidemics or mass protests, and “travel warnings” for longstanding concerns like armed conflict or political instability.

The new rankings are applied to every country in the world, including Antarctica, reported.

Michelle Bernier-Toth, the head of Overseas Citizens Services, said the changes were made because so few people understood the distinctions in the previous broad rankings.

Under the new rankings, Level One, the lowest advisory, signals a need to “exercise normal precautions” in places where there is no more than the usual risk involved in international travel. Canada and Australia are among countries ranked Level One.

Level Two means “exercise increased caution” for nations where there is a heightened risk to safety. Many countries in Western Europe, where there have been terrorist attacks in recent years, are listed as Level Two. Antarctica is also a Level Two.

Level Three translates bluntly as “reconsider travel,” with the recommendation to avoid going to countries with serious risks. Turkey, Russia and Venezuela are considered Level Three.

Level Four is for countries with a “greater likelihood of life-threatening risks” in which the US government may be very limited in its ability to help. Travelers already in those countries are advised to leave as soon as it is safe.

Eleven countries come with the do-not-travel recommendation, most in Africa and the Middle East—Mali, Central African Republic, Libya, South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and North Korea.

In addition, the new system will explain why the advisory was made, with one-letter logos: C for crime, T for terrorism, U for civil unrest, H for health risks, N for natural disasters, E for special events like an election and O for some other reason.

In the past, governments of countries where the State Department has issued travel warnings have complained vociferously, usually out of concerns about their tourism industry.

Bernier-Toth said US embassies were given the new rankings ahead of time so they could notify the governments of the impending change.

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