Global Travel Advisory Level 4 – Do Not Travel

CA Press Guidance

March 19, 2020

Global Travel Advisory Level 4 – Do Not Travel

  • On March 19, the U.S. Department of State advised U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.  
  • In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.
  • U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel.  
  • Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice.  
  • Airlines have cancelled many international flights and several cruise operators have suspended operations or cancelled trips.
  • If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe.  
  • The Worldwide Level 4 Health Advisory supersedes the independent Travel Advisories for specific countries, jurisdictions, and areas around the world that we use to inform U.S. citizens of travel conditions.  Other specific conditions remain detailed in each country’s Travel Advisory.
  • On March 14, the Department of State authorized the departure of U.S. personnel and family members from any diplomatic or consular post in the world who have determined they are at higher risk of a poor outcome if exposed to COVID-19 or who have requested departure based on a commensurate justification
  • These departures may limit the ability of U.S. Embassies and consulates to provide services to U.S. citizens. 
  • You are encouraged to visit travel.state.gov to view individual Travel Advisories for the most urgent threats to safety and security. 
  • Please also visit the website of the relevant U.S. embassy or consulate website to see information on entry restrictions, foreign quarantine policies, and urgent health information provided by local governments.
  • Travelers are urged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. The Department uses these Alerts to convey information about evolving health and safety conditions, as well as terrorist threats, security incidents, planned demonstrations, natural disasters, etc. 
  • In an emergency, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate or call the following numbers: 1(888) 407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1 (202) 501-4444 from other countries or jurisdictions.
  • If you decide to travel abroad or are already outside the United States:
  • Consider returning to your country of residence immediately using whatever commercial means are available. 
  • Have a travel plan that does not rely on the U.S. Government for assistance.
  • Check with your airline, cruise lines, or travel operators regarding any updated information about your travel plans and/or restrictions.
  • Visit travel.state.gov to view individual Travel Advisories for the most urgent threats to safety and security.
  • Visit our Embassy webpages on COVID-19 for information on conditions in each country or jurisdiction.

Q&A

Q: Will the Department be evacuating U.S. citizens?

  • We are aware the governments of several countries have announced suspension of air travel. We are considering all options to assist U.S. citizens in these countries. U.S. citizens should monitor the relevant embassy’s or consulate’s website and enroll in STEP.state.gov for the most up-to-date information.

Q: Will the individual Travel Advisories also all change? Is there a new concern for U.S. citizens?

  • The Worldwide Level 4 Health Advisory supersedes the independent Travel Advisories for specific countries, jurisdictions, and areas around the world that we use to inform U.S. citizens of travel conditions.  Other specific conditions remain detailed in each country’s Travel Advisory.
  • We have no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas.  We are continuously assessing travel conditions, and will continue to update our travel advisories and safety information for U.S. travelers as situations evolve.
  • We encourage all travelers to read the entire text of the Travel Advisories.

Q:  What are the risks for U.S. citizens?

  • The CDC regularly updates important information on novel coronavirus. We recommend you visit its webpage: www.coronavirus.gov, in addition to monitoring the Department of State’s country pages on Travel.State.gov. 
  • Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice.   

Q.  How do I find more information about CDC travel health notices or the reentry airports in the United States?

  • Information about U.S. airports and the process of returning to the United States from restricted countries, jurisdictions, or areas can be found at www.dhs.gov. 

Q:  Is the U.S. military planning to evacuate any personnel?

  • We refer you to the Department of Defense.

Q: Will there be travel restrictions on foreigners coming from these countries?

  • Information about entering the United States and which countries’ citizens are currently restricted from entry into the United States can be found at www.dhs.gov.

Q: Will Americans entering the United States be quarantined?

  • We refer you to the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services for questions regarding medical screening and quarantine for U.S. citizens entering the United States from other countries and jurisdictions.

Q: How long will the Worldwide Level 4 Health Advisory remain in effect? 

  • The Department uses a wide range of tools (including Travel Advisories and Alerts) to communicate clear, timely, and reliable safety and security information that helps U.S. citizens make informed decisions about travel overseas.
  • The Department of State routinely updates our Travel Advisories and country information for all countries and jurisdictions based on a comprehensive review of all available safety information and ongoing developments.  Travel Advisories at Levels 2-4 contain clear reasons for the level assigned, using established risk indicators, and offer specific advice to U.S. citizens who choose to travel there.  The “H – Health” indicator reflects the presence of health risks, including current disease outbreaks or a crisis that disrupts a country’s medical infrastructure.  The issuance of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travel Health Notice may be a factor.  
  • Additionally, U.S. embassies and consulates abroad issue Alerts as needed to notify U.S. citizens of specific events and changes happening locally, in real time.  

Q:  Has the Department issued other kinds of Worldwide Advisories/Cautions in the Past?  

  • We have a current Worldwide Caution for terrorism on our website.  
  • The U.S. Department of State has no greater responsibility than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas. We are committed to providing U.S. citizens with clear, timely, and reliable information about every country in the world so they can make informed travel decisions. We share information across a range of platforms and in many formats, so that U.S. citizens have access to the safety and security information they need when living or traveling abroad.  
  • In the past we have shared information on air, sea, and land travel, including providing advice to U.S. citizen travelers when a mode of travel poses particular risks to their safety and security. 

Q.  What is the difference between CDC Travel Health Notices and Department of State Travel Advisories?  Why are there different levels?

  • The CDC’s Travel Health Notices focus on health concerns, while the Department of State’s advisories are based on a broader range of established risk indicators such as crime, terrorism, kidnapping or hostage taking, civil unrest, natural disasters, health, and other potential risks.  We refer you to the CDC’s website for more information about their Travel Health Notices:  https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices#travel-notice-definitions  

If pressed on State Department’s Travel Advisory Levels:

  • For the Department of State’s Travel Advisories, every country is assigned a Level 1-4.  The levels of advice in our Travel Advisories are based on established risk indicators such as crime, terrorism, kidnapping or hostage taking, civil unrest, natural disasters, health, and other potential risks.  We use standard formats for our Travel Advisories and Alerts to help U.S. citizens find and use important security information more easily. Our levels range from Level 1 – Exercise Normal Precautions to Level 4 – Do Not Travel.  
  • Risk Indicators:  Department of State’s Travel Advisories at Levels 2-4 contain clear reasons for the level assigned, using established risk indicators, and offer specific advice to U.S. citizens who choose to travel there.  Indicators range from C for Crime to H for Health to N for Natural Disaster. 

If Pressed.  What are all the levels in the State Department Travel Advisories?

  • Level 1 – Exercise normal precautions:  This is the lowest advisory level for safety and security risk.  There is some risk in any international travel.  Conditions in other countries may differ from those in the United States and may change at any time. 
  • Level 2 – Exercise increased caution:  Be aware of heightened risks to safety and security.  The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory.  Conditions in any country may change at any time.  
  • Level 3 – Reconsider travel:  Avoid travel due to serious risks to safety and security.  The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory.  Conditions in any country may change at any time. 
  • Level 4 – Do not travel:  This is the highest advisory level due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks.  During an emergency, the U.S. government may have very limited ability to provide assistance.  The Department of State advises that U.S. citizens not travel to the country or leave as soon as it is safe to do so.  The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory.  Conditions in any country may change at any time.