This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

American travelers should have an easier time figuring out which countries are safe to visit since the State Department switched over to a color-coded system that labels the nations of the world from least to most dangerous.

“We wanted to make it clear what our advice was and improve our communication with US citizens,” State Department spokesman Kevin Brosnahan told the Washington Post.

Countries will be categorized from Level 1, represented by blue, for those places US travelers have least reason to be concerned traveling in, to Level 4, with a red theme, which the US government will strongly advise travelers not to visit at all. (Just because a country is listed as Level 4 doesn’t mean that Americans are actually prohibited from going there, though.) Level 2, or yellow, will come with the caveat to “exercise increased caution,” while Level 3, orange, will ask Americans to reconsider visiting.

Currently, the State Department issues travel alerts or travel warnings for each country individually in a system that’s widely considered confusing and vague. (Travel alerts are for short-term risks, while travel warnings are for countries with longer-term issues that the State Department asks you to reconsider going to.) The new system is the result of a yearlong reassessment by the department.

In addition to the colors and levels, each country’s entry on the State Department website will display icons detailing why the security level is appropriate, like if the country is experiencing political unrest, a natural disaster or an epidemic, or if it recently suffered a terrorist attack.

The list of every country’s security level hasn’t been finalized, but Brosnahan said Canada and North Korea would be likely examples of Level 1 and Level 4 nations. Countries may also receive more than one security rating from the State Department if internal regions vary in safety. For example, if a northern province borders a lawless war region, that area might get a Level 3 rating while the safer capital region gets a Level 1 or 2.

Levels will be assigned purely by security considerations for travelers, not as punishments or enticements for diplomatic or political reasons, Carl Risch, assistant secretary of state for consular affairs, told CNN.

The new system won’t affect the Smart Travelers Enrollment Program, which issues notifications directly to travelers for specific countries.

Featured image by Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images.

 

American Express® Gold Card

With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 35,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. restaurants. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with The Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth's Chris Steak House. This is an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
  • Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
See Rates & Fees
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.