Travel Warnings or Alerts

April 10, 2017


The U.S. Department of State maintains a website at that contains a ton of useful information for overseas travelers. It’s a good idea to some research on the site before you travel overseas. There are many useful tools and links on the site that are designed to help you plan a safe, enjoyable trip.

One area of the site that’s especially useful to humanitarian travelers is Travel Warnings. The Department of State gathers information from all over the world. When it receives reports of activity that may make travel to a particular area dangerous for U.S. travelers, it will issue a Travel Alert or Travel Warning. The two are different.

Travel Alerts are issued for events that the department of State feels you should know about before traveling to a particular country. These conditions, such as demonstrations, protests, an outbreak of disease, or an elevated risk of terrorist attack, are usually considered to be short term. A Travel Alert isn’t necessarily meant to deter travel to the area, it’s really more of a heads-up to travelers.

Travel Warnings are more serious. The Department of State issues a Travel Warning when it receives reports of unstable government, civil war, ongoing intense crime or violence, frequent terrorist attacks, or other danger or unrest. These warnings are meant to cause the traveler to carefully consider whether it’s a good idea to travel to the region at all. These warnings are generally more long-term than Travel Alerts, and remain in place until the situation changes. In fact, some Travel Warnings have remained in place for years.


How can I receive warnings and alerts?

To receive Travel Alerts and Travel Warnings, sign up for the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). Signup is easy — just go the STEP enrollment page. You’ll provide your name and email address, then choose the countries about which you’d like to receive alerts. It’s that simple. Travel Alerts and Travel Warnings that pertain to the country or countries you’ve chosen will begin to show up in your email.

Since Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts may apply to any country, even those you wouldn’t expect to be dangerous, it’s a good idea to enroll anytime you plan to travel outside the U.S.