Global Education

Department of State and U.S. Embassy Resources

U.S. Department of State advisories and messaging

The U.S. Department of State issues travel advisories, travel alerts and additional safety and security messaging for specific circumstances.

Travel Advisory

The U.S. Department of State issues a Travel Advisory for each country. The advisory assigns one of 4 levels of travel advice for the entire country:

The Travel Advisory and country information contain specific information on safety and security concerns written by consular officials. Ohio State encourages all travelers to read and consult this information when preparing for travel.

In general, a Travel Advisory is updated whenever Consular Affairs determines there is a significant or long-term change to the security environment in the country. However, protocol dictates that each advisory should be updated at least once annually, so an updated advisory does not automatically imply that the U.S. Department of State has raised its advisory level or significantly altered the travel advice.

  1. Nuanced Ratings: The advisory can assign a higher rating to specific regions, cities, locations or activities. Even countries assigned an advisory Level 1, may contain regions where the advisory is Level 3 or Level 4.
  2. Risk Indicators: If there is a Level 2 or higher rating for the country or a specific region, the advisory will include specific risk indicators providing a rationale for the elevated rating. The risk indicators may prompt additional considerations in travel preparedness, including:
    • Deferring travel to certain locations
    • Not using certain forms of transportation
    • Avoiding traveling after dark
    • Implementing specific crime mitigation strategies
    • Employing other mitigation strategies
  3. Ohio State Risk Designated Scale: The U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory is one input into Ohio State’s risk designation for each country. Given the nuance in advisory levels and the variation in risk indicators, the Ohio State risk designated tier can be higher or lower than the corresponding Travel Advisory level. The Ohio State risk designation serves as the primary indicator if student travel to a country requires additional review, assessment or curtailment.

In addition to the safety and security content in the Travel Advisory, travelers are advised to read all seven sections of the country information with specific focus on:

Travel Alerts and Embassy Messages

U.S. embassies and consulates abroad issue Travel Alerts to inform U.S. citizens of specific short-term safety and security concerns in a country, such as demonstrations, crime trends, and weather events. 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. In addition, all messages are posted on the Country Information page and the U.S. Citizens Services page for the respective U.S. embassy or consulate.

Travel Alerts come in various forms. In general, a Travel Alert assumes that travel will continue, but travelers may need to enhance their situational awareness, practice increased vigilance or make temporary modifications in travel.  Ohio State presumes all travelers are enrolled in or have access to the STEP notification system. Ohio State does not update travelers of each alert. Individual travelers are advised to follow the recommended advice in the alert.

Types of Alerts

Worldwide Caution

The Worldwide Caution has been in place for more than 15 years. The context of the Worldwide Caution is related to the outlook and concern for global terrorism. It is reviewed and renewed approximately every six months.

How U.S. Department of State Messaging Impacts Ohio State Travel Guidelines


The Travel Advisory is factored into the Ohio State risk designated scale.

During Travel

Ohio State presumes all U.S. citizens traveling are enrolled in or have access to the STEP notification system which provides registered travelers with updates to the Travel Advisory and the issuance of Travel Alerts for their destinations of travel. Non-U.S. citizens may access updates via the local U.S. embassy page. International risk management does not automatically notify travelers of each update or alert.

Travel Guidance Applies To

Faculty and staff traveling on university business: Advised to follow the recommendations of the U.S. Department of State messaging and consult the Ohio State risk designated scale and OIA Travel Alerts. 

Student travel on Ohio State education abroad programs or other university supported travel: Advised to follow the recommendations of the U.S. Department of State messaging. In addition, U.S. DOS messaging may prompt international risk management to adjust program itineraries, restrict travel to specific locations or submit a recommendation to the International Travel Policy Committee to curtail current or planned travel.