US Tells Citizens to 'Exercise Increased Caution' While Visiting India

The State Department has a new travel advisory system for ranking countries’ safety levels

Under the new designations Turkey is considered a ‘Level 3’ country. Viacheslav Lopatin Shutterstock

The United States State Department has unveiled a new four-level travel advisory program to replace the earlier system where it issued travel warnings for individuals countries.

The advisory has four categories ranging from "Exercise normal precaution" to "Do not travel", a US State Department statement said on Wednesday.

Armenia has been included in Level 1, the lowest advisory level for safety and security risk.

Cuba, once a do not travel, is now Level 3; China is a Level 2. "In the past, there have been large-scale terrorist attacks resulting in hundreds of casualties", reads the travel advisory.

The standard jargon at the State Department's website (travel.state.gov) used to be a "warning" - something serious that would suggest extra caution (and sometimes more) - or an "alert", which often was a red flag, sometimes temporary, telling travelers about, say, an election or the aftermath of a natural disaster.

Burundi is designated a level-three destination. During an emergency, the US government may have very limited ability to provide assistance.

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In place of the previous system of alerts and advisories, the new ratings establish advisory levels (reminiscent of the now-defunct Homeland Security Advisory System) which correspond to escalating levels of insecurity.

While alerts were generally shorter-term or related to specific events, and warnings were meant to be stronger, the new system is created to provide additional clarity and guidance.

Other countries in the same category include Austria, Canada, Switzerland, Scandinavian countries, all EU Eastern European countries, nearly all former Soviet republics apart from Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan. The Level 4 has been indicated for nations such as Afghanistan, recommending "do not travel".

The advisory said that Americans deciding to visit India must not travel alone, particularly if they were women. These advisory levels are simply a tool for you to use, and could impact world travel in some pretty meaningful ways.

The arch-nemesis of world's superpower, North Korea is also in Level Four, with the additional restriction that USA law prohibits American travellers from using their passports there, effectively banning visits to the Kim led-state. Antarctica is also a level 2, for "environmental hazards posed by extreme and unpredictable weather", according to the State Department.

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