US State Department overhauls travel advisory system

US State Department overhauls travel advisory system

We've launched new Travel Advisories and Alerts to help USA citizen travelers assess for themselves the risks of travel.

According to the report by the State Department's official website, under the new system, every country will have a Travel Advisory, providing levels of advice ranging from 1 to 4: Level 1 - Exercise Normal Precautions, Level 2 - Exercise Increased Caution, Level 3 - Reconsider Travel, Level 4 - Do Not Travel.

The US State Department identified "crime and terrorism" in India, while ranking at Level 2, advising Americans to exercise increased caution while visiting India.

The threat level in a country is determined through a collaborative process that involves security experts, the intelligence community, host governments, our embassies and consulates.

The State Department insists the rankings are based exclusively on security conditions in a country, but is aware of the possibility for pushback from governments that are unhappy with their ranking.

Perennial US adversary Russian Federation was listed as a Tier 3 country, due to the risk of "terrorism and harassment". It said that the USA government has limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in rural areas from eastern Maharashtra and northern Telangana through western West Bengal as US government employees must obtain special authorization to travel to these areas.

As well as Slovakia, Australia, Canada, Austria and the Czech Republic are in this group.

Mexico, a level two country, has complained in the past that USA alerts hurt tourism, but the site gives a detailed breakdown of areas to avoid because of drug cartel violence.

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U.S. citizens are advised not to travel to the eastern DRC and Kasai provinces under the new system, which sometimes has separate, higher tier rankings for particular regions within a country.

"This is the biggest overhaul that we've done in a very, very long time", after some tinkering with language a decade ago, she said.

The arch-nemesis of world's superpower, North Korea is also in Level Four, with the additional restriction that USA law prohibits American travellers from using their passports there, effectively banning visits to the Kim led-state.

On January 10, the Department of State launched improvements to how it shares information with US travelers.

For example, Mexico is rated Level 2 overall, with increased caution urged because of crime.

"Sometimes our various documents were not readily understood", Bernier-Toth said.

But Cuba is ranked only level three, "Reconsider Travel".

"We wanted it to be an easier to understand system", Risch said.

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