Information on Changes to Department of State Communications with U.S. citizen travelers

The Department of State is improving our communications with U.S. citizen travelers to provide clear, timely, and reliable safety and security information worldwide.  Upcoming revisions to consular safety and security messaging, which will launch in January of 2018, will improve our ability to inform the public in an efficient and comprehensive manner. Information will be easier to find, understand, and use. Travel Advisories will ensure U.S. citizens receive important advice for every country, applying a consistent worldwide standard.

Beginning in January of 2018, every country page on travel.state.gov will include the Travel Advisory, any Alerts issued for that country, and an interactive map. Country pages will continue to include all travel information currently available, including details about entry/exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, transportation, and other relevant topics. The same Travel Advisories and Alerts will be accessible from embassy websites, allowing users to access all relevant information on either site.

Department of State improved safety and security messaging consists of two new products:

Alerts: U.S. embassies and consulates abroad will issue Alerts in place of the current Emergency and Security Messages. Alerts follow an easy-to-understand format that permits quicker release of the information to the public.

Travel Advisory: We will replace Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts with a Travel Advisory for each country of the world. Travel Advisories follow a consistent format and use plain language to help U.S. citizens find and use important security information. Travel Advisories may apply any of four standard levels of advice to explain the reasons for the level, and provide clear actionable steps U.S. citizens should take. Further country-specific details such as entry/exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, transportation, and other relevant topics will accompany these levels and be available on the same country page.

The four levels of advice are:

  • 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. (Color: Blue)
  • Level 2 – Exercise Increased Caution: Be aware of heightened risks to safety and security. The Departments of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time. (Color: Yellow)
  • 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. (Color: Orange)
  • Level 4 – Do Not Travel: This is the highest advisory level due to 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 to 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. (Color: Red)

Varying Levels: We will issue an overall Travel Advisory level for a country, but levels of advice may vary for specific locations or areas within a country. For instance, we may advise U.S. citizens to “Exercise Increased Caution” (Level 2) in a country, but to “Reconsider Travel” (Level 3) to a particular area within the country.

Risk Indicators: Travel Advisories at Levels 2-4 will contain clear reasons for the level assigned, using established risk indicators and specific advice to U.S. citizens who choose to travel there. These are:

  • C – Crime: Widespread violent or organized crime is present in areas of the country. Local law enforcement may have limited ability to respond to serious crimes.
  • T – Terrorism: Terrorist attacks have occurred and/or specific threats against civilians, groups, or other targets may exist.
  • U – Civil Unrest: Political, economic, religious, and/or ethnic instability exists and may cause violence, major disruptions, and/or safety risks.
  • H – Health: Health risks, including current disease outbreaks or a crisis that disrupts a country’s medical infrastructure, are present. The issuance of a Centers for Disease Control Travel Notice may also be a factor.
  • N – Natural Disaster: A natural disaster, or its aftermath, poses danger.
  • E – Time-limited Event: Short-term event, such as elections, sporting events, or other incidents that may pose safety risks.
  • O – Other: There are potential risks not covered by previous risk indicators. Read the country’s Travel Advisory for details.

For further information about security in Albania:

  • See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Albania Country Specific Information.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Albania, located at Rruga Elbasanit 103, at +355-(0)-4224-7285, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +355-(0)-4224-7285.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except S. federal holidays).