U.S. Department of State Information

U.S. Department of State Information, Advisories and Messaging

Ohio State encourages all travelers to read and consult the travel information issued by the U.S. Department of State. In advance of departure, travelers are encouraged to read the country information for their destinations. The country information will include specific information on safety and security concerns written by consular officials.

In addition to the country information, the Department of State issues several other forms of advisories or messaging for particular circumstances.

Travel Alerts and Warnings

Worldwide Caution: Has been in place for more than 15 years. It is reviewed and renewed approximately every six months.

  • The context of the Worldwide Caution is related to the outlook and concern for global terrorism. It does not address political instability due to reasons other than terrorism or safety issues related to health concerns. 
  • Ohio State advises all travelers to be aware of the content. Reminders of updates to the Worldwide Caution are posted to the OIA travel alerts page, but a notification is not sent to individual travelers. 

Travel Alerts: Issued to raise awareness of short-term events.

  • In general a Travel Alert assumes that travel will continue and the information is provided for travelers to consider when traveling abroad.  Alerts contain an expiration date associated with the perceived duration of the security concern.
  • Ohio State reviews alerts and may make adjustments to itineraries or provide precautionary recommendations. However, a Travel Alert does not immediately trigger a review by the International Travel Policy Committee (ITPC) and does not typically indicate the cancellation of programming.

Travel Warnings: Issued to advise travelers on whether to travel to a country. Examples of reasons for issuing a Travel Warning might include unstable government, civil war, ongoing intense crime or violence or frequent terrorist attacks.

  • Travel Warning language is very nuanced; advisories may pertain to only specific regions of a country and not all contain explicit language to defer travel or depart the country. Travel Warnings are often long-standing in duration and are scheduled to be updated every six months or more frequently if necessary. 
  • Ohio State requires any student travel to a country with a pre-existing Travel Warning to be reviewed by the ITPC and authorized by the Office of the Provost. If a new Travel Warning is issued or a preexisting Travel Warning is significantly altered, the ITPC will review the content and make recommendations to the provost on the continuation or cancellation of travel.

General, Security and Emergency Messages

Travelers enrolled in the STEP system will receive periodic updates from the local U.S. embassy or consulate in the area to which they are traveling.

  • A general “Message for U.S. Citizens” is an administrative notice or reminder about voter registration, changes to local immigration requirements or other matters that may require some travelers to complete or file additional paperwork. 
  • A “Security Message for U.S. Citizens” provides awareness about personal safety or security-related issues. These may include notices about public strikes, demonstrations and protests, significant weather disturbances, health issues or concerns for safety that might impact travel. A security message prompts travelers to be aware and make plans. 
  • An “Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens” informs travelers about imminent threats that can impact their personal security, and which may require the traveler to take immediate action in order to remain safe. These may include political disturbances, natural disasters, terrorist attacks or the cessation of consular services.  An emergency message prompts travelers to take immediate action.