Travelers should familiarize themselves with their destinations, both to get the most enjoyment out of the visit and to avoid known dangers. Travelers should also be aware of restrictions on items that may be taken overseas (see “Bringing Medications or Filling Prescriptions Abroad,” below) and even on items that may be brought into the U.S. upon return (see “Customs and Import Restrictions,” below). More information resources follow:
The Consular Information Program
The Consular Information Program consists of three main components that provide information to the American public about travel to specific countries: Country Specific Information, Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts. The U.S. Department of State issues fact sheets called Country Specific Information on over 200 countries. The sheets contain information on entry requirements, crime and security conditions, areas of instability, road safety and other details relevant to travel.
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The Department of State also issues Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts.
Travel warnings are issued when the State Department recommends deferral of travel by Americans to a country because of civil unrest, dangerous conditions, terrorist activity and, in some cases, because the U.S. has no diplomatic relations with the country and may have great difficulty in assisting Americans in distress. Travel Alerts are issued as a means to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term or transnational conditions that could pose significant risks to American travelers.
How to Obtain Country Specific Information, Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts
Alerts are updated regularly and are accessible through the State Department’s travel information website at http://www.travel.state.gov. For specific questions regarding an emergency involving an American citizen overseas, contact the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-5225.
There are three ways to access Country Specific Information, Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts:
- On the Internet: http:// travel.state.gov.
- By Fax: on a fax machine, dial 202-647-3000 and follow the voice prompts.
- By Telephone: dial (888) 407-4747 from within the U.S., or, from overseas, (202) 501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
Background Notes are factual publications that contain information on countries with which the United States has diplomatic relations. They include facts on each country’s land, people, history, government, political conditions, economy, and relations with other countries and the United States. Background notes can be accessed via http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn.
For more information that can help you plan a wonderful (and trouble-free) trip, go to http://www.travel.state.gov/travel/resources/resources_1244.html, and to http://www.travel.state.gov/travel/tips/plan/plan_1169.html.