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.

The All-New United Quest℠ Card

WELCOME OFFER: Up to 100,000 bonus miles

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,040

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X miles on United® purchases

*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 80K bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 20K bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months
  • $250 Annual Fee
  • Earn 3X miles on United® purchases, 2X miles at restaurants, on select streaming services & all other travel, 1X on all other purchases
  • Earn 3X miles on United Airlines purchases
  • Earn 2X miles at restaurants and on select streaming services
  • Earn 2X miles on all other travel
  • Earn 1X mile on all other purchases
  • Each year, receive a $125 credit on United® purchases and two 5k-mile anniversary award flight credits. Terms apply.
Regular APR
16.49% to 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
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.