State Department Advisories
The U.S. Department of State provides up-to-date information and recommendations about travel to countries throughout the world. As you prepare to depart, the International Center recommends that you research your destination in the Country Specific Information pages of the State Department’s website, found here.
Another way to understand the security environment in your destination is through monitoring Consular Messages, which are issued by the embassy or consulate in the country that they cover.
When the U.S. government believes that a threat may exist in a specific destination, a travel alert or travel warning may be issued by the Department of State to help travelers plan their trips. These are very different types of announcements, and they are described in more detail below.
There are three types of consular messages: Messages, Security Messages and Emergency Messages. Each of these types is outlined below. They are issued by a specific embassy or consulate, so some may cover an entire country while others may be more limited in scope. Registration with STEP is a good way to receive these messages automatically.
- Messages: Formally known as “Messages for U.S. Citizens,” these are informational alerts that provide information of a general nature. They may remind travelers of voter registration deadlines, changing entry requirements, or other administrative issues.
- Security Messages: These are the most common type of alert, and may be issued to notify travelers of potential protests, road closures, forest fires, etc. If you receive a security message, it should generally trigger you to be more aware of your surroundings and pay attention to changes in the security situation compared to what is normal.
- Emergency Messages: These alerts highlight imminent threats and problems, and are used infrequently. They may notify you of natural disasters or other in-country emergencies, or provide details related to places you should avoid. It is important to pay close attention to information provided by these notices.
Travel alerts are issued for short-term events that the government believes travelers should know about when planning a trip. Alerts might include information about risks related to elections, civil unrest, labor strikes, an elevated risk of terrorism, or healthcare-related situations. They always contain an expiration date, and they are cancelled when the short-term event is over.
Travel warnings are issued when the risk at a destination is elevated enough that the government wants you to consider very carefully whether you should go there at all. They are the highest level of advisory issued by the State Department, and sometimes even stress that the U.S. government’s ability to assist you may be limited in countries for which they are issued. In general, armed conflict, unstable governments, high levels of violent crime, or a high risk of terrorism are reasons that prompt them. They do not have expiration dates, and remain in place until the situation in the country changes. Some of them have been in effect for years.
UK does not permit educational travel by students in countries under Travel Warnings. Exceptions to this policy are made on a case by case basis in conjunction with a required review process. For more information on this process, click here, or contact Director of International Health, Safety & Security Jason Hope at email@example.com.
UK employees are encouraged to follow any guidelines set out by the Department of State, and to register their travel with STEP before departure.