Understanding State Department Travel Warnings & Alerts

Periodically, the State Department in the United States will issue various travel warnings and alerts designed to protect American citizens as they travel too and from foreign countries. Paying attention to these alerts is one of the keys to remaining safe. Especially, visiting abroad. Also, getting an understanding of what the alerts mean and why they are given in the first place.

State Department Travel Warnings

The State Department may issue a travel warning for American citizens for a wide range of different reasons. These reasons may include:

  • The emergence of an unstable government.
  • Instances of frequent terrorist activities.
  • A recent civil war.
  • Consistently high rates of certain types of crime, like violent crimes, and more.

Any State Department Travel Warning will list the name of the country that the warning is in reference to and, in many cases, specific regions of that area where people should avoid traveling in order to remain safe at all times. Many travel warnings also include telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, and other relevant contact information. These information are for US Embassies or Consulates in those areas.

State Department Travel Alerts

State Department Travel Alerts, on the other hand, are for travelers to recognize short-term problems that may pose a significant threat to US citizens while traveling abroad. The reasons for Travel Alert may include the following:

  • An outbreak of a specific type of disease like Ebola.
  • An impending natural disaster like a hurricane or one that has just recently taken place.
  • A sudden risk of terrorist attacks that may affect the region.
  • Infrastructure-related strikes and demonstrations and more.

Unlike a Travel Warning, the purpose of a Travel Alert is not to prevent US citizens from visiting the country or affected areas in question. It is merely designed to give them all of the actionable information they need to proceed with caution and remain safe and secure at all times. As soon as a particular type of dangerous event is over (like if the sudden risk of terrorist attacks decreases for whatever reason), the Travel Alert call off by the State Department and travelers can return to their regular business activities without worry in the majority of cases.