Traveling to High-Risk Areas Abroad

High-Risk Area Traveler Alerts from US Dept of State

he U.S. Department of State categorizes countries and/or regions on a scale of 1, Exercise Normal Caution to 4, Do Not Travel. The levels are assigned based on the prevalence of specific risk categories in the destination country.

You should strongly consider not going to high-risk areas at all. Traveling to high-risk areas may increase your risk for kidnapping, hostage-taking, theft, and serious injury.

Some level 4 with links — Click here for a comprehensive list.

Burma (Myanmar) Travel Advisory Level 4: Do Not Travel

Afghanistan Travel Advisory Level 4: Do Not Travel

Belarus Travel Advisory Level 4: Do Not Travel

Iran Travel Advisory Level 4: Do Not Travel

Iraq Travel Advisory Level 4: Do Not Travel

Haiti Travel Advisory Level 4: Do Not Travel

South Sudan Travel Advisory Level 4: Do Not Travel

From the US Department of State:

Be Aware

You are subject to the laws and the legal system of the country you visit. The US government cannot help you in many high-risk areas. This may be due to a lack of a functioning government, the ineffectiveness of policies of local authorities, armed conflict, or poor governance. The US government cannot provide consular services in many countries where the United States does not maintain diplomatic or consular relations. Limited assistance may be available in countries where the United States has an official protecting power arrangement. During a crisis in a high-risk area, we may have to rely on local resources to resolve matters. The US website will help you determine what the US government can and cannot do.

Travel Tips Before You Leave

Please take a moment to review travel recommendations from:

  • The State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs

  • The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), a public/private partnership of major U.S. corporations with the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security

  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

Before You Go to a High-Risk Area

After careful consideration, if you decide to go to high-risk areas, the government strongly encourages you to:

  • Enroll your trip in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

  • Draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and power of attorney.

  • Discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care and custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.), funeral wishes, etc.

  • Share important documents, login information, and points of contact with loved ones so they can manage your affairs if you cannot return to the United States as planned.

  • Learn how to use your phone or other smart devices to share your location with your friends and family abroad.

  • Establish a personal security plan in coordination with your employer or host organization, or consider consulting with a professional security organization.

  • Develop a communication plan with your family, employer, and host organization so that they can monitor your safety and location. This plan should specify who you would contact first and how they should share the information.

  • Identify key sources of assistance for you and your family in case of an emergency, such as the local U.S. embassy or consulate, FBI, the State Department’s Office of American Citizen Services, your employer (if traveling on business), and local friends and family in the high-risk area.

  • Appoint one family member to serve as the point of contact with hostage-takers, media, U.S. and host country government agencies, and Members of Congress if you are taken hostage or detained.

  • Establish a proof of life protocol with your loved ones so that if you are taken hostage, they will know specific questions (and answers) to ask the hostage-takers to be sure that you are alive (and to rule out a hoax).

  • Leave DNA samples with your medical provider in case your family must access them.

  • Erase sensitive photos, comments, or other materials from your social media pages, cameras, laptops, and other electronic devices that local groups could consider controversial or provocative.

  • Leave your expensive or sentimental belongings behind.

Contact Information

  • The State Department’s Country Information includes:

  • Contact information for U.S. embassies or consulates in those countries (if applicable)

  • Information about local laws and customs, travel conditions, entry and exit requirements, etc.

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