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Travel Alert, Travel Warning or Travel Ban?

Wed, 05/03/2017
Advice on Travel to Region

The US State Department has issued another travel alert for Europe from May 2017 until September 2017, indicating a ‘heightened risk’ of terrorist attacks. But there’s no need to panic; this is the fourth travel alert for Americans travelling to Europe since March 2016 and is merely a precaution taken by the US State Department to let its citizens know of the increased number of terrorist attacks that have taken place across Europe in the past two years. The notice from the US government gave the attacks in France, Russia, Sweden and the UK as examples.

The terms travel alert, travel warning and travel ban have cropped up many times in the news lately and have left many travellers wondering whether it is still safe to travel to their intended destination. If you’re asking yourself whether you should change your travel plans, learn about the alert or warning and why it has been issued before making your decision.

The first port of call is to check the news. Inform yourself on exactly what is happening in the country you are planning to visit. What is the political climate there? Is there civil unrest or other political instability that might pose a threat to you or your trip? Is there an epidemic in the country you’re planning to visit? Has there been a heightened chance of a natural disaster or weather conditions that might make travel in the area extremely dangerous? Answer these questions for yourself and make sure you truly understand the reason for the warning about place you are heading to.

A travel alert is a caution related to less severe, less likely events for a short period of time. These include concentrated smaller scale terrorist attacks, demonstrations, strikes or health alerts like Swine Flu and Ebola.

A travel warning is a general caution urging travellers to make careful considerations whether or not to travel to a certain country. A travel warning might be issued when there is unstable government, frequent violence, civil war or other extenuating circumstances. At the time of writing this blog such countries would include, for an EU citizen: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Palestinian Territories, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen.

A country cannot ban its citizens from travelling anywhere in the world, but it can ban citizens from other regions from entering it. The most recent and high profile travel ban issued was in March 2017, when the current US President, Donald Trump, signed an order to ban new visas for Syrians, Iranians, Libyans, Somalis, Sudanese and Yemenis. The EU does not ban nor deny visas to the citizens of any particular country, but has sometimes banned entry to certain individuals.

Ultimately, the decision is your own and nobody can force you to go somewhere if you do not feel comfortable. Equally, do not let anybody talk you out of a trip if you feel you are not putting yourself in any danger.

If something does happen whilst you are abroad, follow the instructions you receive from the authorities, monitor the situation via a trusted media source and local news. You should try to stay in contact with family to let them know you are safe and if you’re travelling as a group make sure you’ve discussed a plan of action so that everybody is clear on what to do should there be an emergency.

Before you leave, check you know the local emergency services numbers, where your embassy is and if you have the option to inform authorities in your homeland of your travel plans, make sure you do so.

You can find travel advice for the EU and the US at the links below:

EU Travel Advice -https://ec.europa.eu/consularprotection/traveladvice_en

US Passports and Internatrional Travel- US Department of State -https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings.html

 

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