US State Department issues ‘level 4’ warning against international travel

Mar 19, 2020

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. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

The State Department has issued a level 4 “do not travel” advisory on Thursday, encouraging U.S. citizens not to go abroad and to return home if they are currently traveling.

“The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19,” the Department said in the warning that was posted to its website Thursday afternoon.

“In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period. U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel,” the warning continued. “Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice. Airlines have cancelled many international flights and several cruise operators have suspended operations or cancelled trips.  If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe.”

Politico first reported that the advisory was expected Thursday morning. It’s unclear how long the new guidance will be in place.

Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more airline news.

Level 4 is the State Department’s most severe travel warning, and is usually reserved to advise travelers against visiting active war zones. Politico reported that a number of current and former U.S. diplomats could not recall a global level 4 travel advisory ever previously being issued.

The State Department had previously issued a global level 3 warning, encouraging travelers to reconsider any trips abroad.

Even a level 4 advisory is nonbinding, but it underscores the serious risks posed by the coronavirus and highlights the quickly-changing nature of the global transportation network.

Visit TPG’s guide to all coronavirus news and updates

In recent days, a large number of airlines have abruptly scaled back services as demand for travel drops off and governments around the world impose new restrictions.

Read more: A number of airlines have suspended or seriously curtailed service in response to coronavirus.

For travelers, that has led to a scramble to rebook flights and try to get back home before the air network contracts even further.

If you are trying to rebook (or get a new itinerary home), airlines are advising passengers that hold times on the phone are exceptionally long. Most are asking passengers to manage their itineraries online whenever possible. For those who need to call, most major carriers are requesting customers only do so if flight is set to depart in 72 hours or less.

The State Department also announced Thursday that it would curtail expedited passport application services, and advised that standard passport applications may take longer than 6-8 weeks.

Related: Global Entry enrollment temporarily suspended due to coronavirus.

Featured photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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.