State Department Officially Debuts New Travel Advisory System

Henrietta Brewer
January 13, 2018

The United States Department of State issued a new system this week to inform citizens on the safety and security of countries worldwide. The states mentioned include "eastern Maharashtra and northern Telangana through western West Bengal" as well as " rural parts of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand and. the borders of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, and Odisha".

"We can not prevent people from traveling to a country", she said. The Department of State advises that US citizens not travel to the country or leave as soon as it is safe to do so.

Under the new system, every country has a travel advisory and is placed in one of these four categories.

The bureau's Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Overseas Citizen Services, Michelle Bernier-Toth, in a teleconference briefing on Monday, said the improvement made was the first major overhaul after so many years and that the assessment of countries was conducted based on information provided by various parties. That process, she said, relies on a number of sources, with input from security experts, the intelligence community, host governments and US embassies and consulates.

Explaining the new USA system, State Department official Michelle Bernier-Toth said that "over the years, we've come to recognize that sometimes our various documents were not readily understood".

The interactive map and legend can be access here.

Regarding the ranking of Pakistan on Level 3, asking Americans to reconsider travelling to the nation, the State Department cited the presence of terrorism, specifically advising against travel to Balochistan province, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province, and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

The State Department is introducing shades of gray into its system that tells you about trouble spots. For a time, in October, the State Department had warned USA citizens not to travel to Cuba because of mysterious health attacks suffered by several US diplomatic employees living in Havana.

That was a message echoed by Bernier-Toth on Wednesday. We don't know what happened. Level four countries include Iraq, Iran, and Libya. North Korea is the lone exception due to the United States banning American travel there over the summer. They require a one-time waiver explaining why they need to go. Antarctica is also a level 2, for "environmental hazards posed by extreme and unpredictable weather", according to the State Department.

The standard jargon at the State Department's website ( used to be a "warning" - something serious that would suggest extra caution (and sometimes more) - or an "alert", which often was a red flag, sometimes temporary, telling travelers about, say, an election or the aftermath of a natural disaster.

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