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.


The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
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.