State Department Travel Advisories

United States citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance and practice good situational awareness when traveling abroad. The State Department warns that terrorist groups and organizations are intent on attacking US citizens wherever they can be found. That said, political violence (including demonstrations), criminal activities and other security incidents often take place without any warning. Extreme violence is occurring more often using less sophisticated means, such as edged weapons, pistols and vehicles to target crowds in public places. Extremists increasingly aim to identify and attack what are referred to as “soft” targets, to include:

  • High-profile public events (sporting contests, political rallies, demonstrations, holiday events, celebratory gatherings, etc.)
  • Hotels, clubs, and restaurants;

  • Places of Worship;
  • Schools;
  • Parks;
  • Shopping malls and markets;

  • Tourism infrastructure and tourist sites;
  • Public transportation systems;
  • And airports

In many regions, extremists and criminals seek to kidnap US citizens to finance their operations or for political purposes. For that reason, the State Department has implemented the following four-tiered Travel Advisory system for ranking countries based on current safety and security conditions.

Level 1 : This is the lowest advisory level for safety and security risks and at the moment, it includes countries such as Ireland, Portugal, Norway, Finland and Japan.

Level 2: Travelers to these countries should “Be aware of heightened risks to safety and security.” This is a very wide category and includes countries such as Italy, Belgium and Denmark, all of them singled out for possible occurrences of terrorism. South Africa and Brazil make this list for crime, as does Mexico.

Level 3: “Avoid travel due to serious risks to safety and security.” Countries at this level include Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, El Salvador, Honduras, Mauritania, Lebanon, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Turkey.

Level 4: The highest advisory level “Due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks. During an emergency, the US government may have very limited ability to provide assistance. The Department of State advises that US citizens not travel to the country or to leave as soon as it is safe to do so.” This list singles out Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Mexico (Tamaulipas, Sinaloa, Colima, Michoacán, Guerrero only), North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen.

See the State Department’s travel advisory webpage below for more information on each location.

Watch Safe Passage

Due to the evolving risks presented by international travel, the Center for Personal Protection & Safety created multiple training products to address a myriad of safety considerations. First, “Safe Passage,” a video training program is intended to reduce personal exposure, provide critical strategies for the key stages of travel, and offer techniques and procedures aimed at minimizing travel risks, including surviving a hostage or detention incident.

Watch When Lightning Strikes

Second, to be able to respond effectively in an Extreme Violence situation, CPPS released “When Lightning Strikes,” a video training program that teaches awareness, prevention and response. The guidance outlined explains how to become situationally aware of travel surroundings, understand how to detect early indicators of suspicious activity, and offers effective response strategies depending on the circumstances.

Watch ISR India

Third, when training time is limited, CPPS offers Individual Security Response (ISR) training, available in 10-minute video products tailored to individual countries or regions. These products are designed to instill a personal survival mindset through realistic response strategies based on country-specific scenarios. Currently, three ISRs have been released, to include China, India and the Middle East.

Watch Surveillance Detection

Fourth, a 9-minute video training program on Surveillance Detection was created to enhance a traveler’s situational awareness by providing techniques on how to detect and counter surveillance efforts. Oftentimes, surveillance precedes a kidnapping event.

Watch Hostage Survival

Fifth, an 8-minute Hostage Survival video program teaches effective strategies and techniques to survive a hostage captivity. Although an Active Shooter and Hostage-taker may both be armed and threatening, victim response strategies differ. And lastly, CPPS created the Safe Harbor eLearning program to provide practical principles and solutions for those who travel or live abroad. International Travel Safety teaches personal security to avoid common pitfalls and anticipate a range of possible threats.

Join us for High Risk Travel Training

CPPS is hosting a two-day High Risk Travel Training Course August 7th-8th. Learn how to become a hard target, survive kidnapping, and prevail through governmental detention. Click the link below for course details and to register.