US State Department Travel Alerts

Updated on Friday, April 18th, 2014

Travel Alerts are issued to disseminate information about short-term conditions, generally within a particular country, that pose imminent risks to the security of U.S. citizens.

Latest Warnings

  1. Egypt Travel Alert
  2. Russian Federation Travel Alert - Events in Ukraine
  3. Thailand Travel Alert
  4. South Pacific Cyclone Season

1. Egypt Travel Alert

Posted on 18 March 2014 | 7:25 am
The U.S. Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the risks of traveling to Egypt due to continuing political and social unrest.

This Travel Alert supersedes the Travel Alert issued on February 21, 2014, and will expire on June 18, 2014.  

Based on an assessment of the security situation in Egypt, the Department of State lifted the ordered departure status for U.S. Embassy personnel on November 6, 2013.  The State Department lifted ordered departure status for U.S. Consulate General Alexandria on December 16, 2013.  However, Consulate General personnel are based out of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo while required facility security upgrades are made.

Political unrest, which intensified after the July 2013 change of government, is likely to continue in the near future. Demonstrations have on numerous occasions resulted in violent clashes between security forces and protesters and between protesters supporting rival factions, some of which have resulted in deaths and injuries to those involved and in property damage.  Participants have generally thrown rocks, and Molotov cocktails, with security forces responding with tear gas.  However, police on occasion have used live ammunition as a crowd control measure and in response to live ammunition used by demonstrators against police.  Most violent protests have occurred in major metropolitan areas, including Cairo and its suburbs, Alexandria, and Port Said.  Gender-based violence in and around protest areas, where women have been the targets of sexual assault, poses an ongoing concern. There has been a recent and notable increase in the use of explosive devices to target police or other government institutions or individuals, which have resulted in casualties and damage to infrastructure.  Additionally, police officers have frequently been the targets of drive-by shootings that endanger bystanders as well.

The security situation in Sinai, particularly in the north and including the major east-west coastal highway and the towns of El Arish, Shaykh Zuwayd, El Gorah and Rafah, has been marked by ongoing violent attacks on Egyptian security personnel and by continuing, and frequently intense, security operations against the sources of violence.  The Rafah gate from Egypt into Gaza is frequently closed, stranding travelers on both sides of the border. On February 16, 2014 a bomb was detonated on a tourist bus, killing four persons in Taba, a Sinai resort near the Israeli border.  The U.S. Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid travel to North Sinai and to carefully monitor local security developments and Department guidance when planning travel to anywhere in the Sinai Peninsula or to other major tourist sites on the Red Sea or in the Nile Valley.

The U.S. Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all demonstrations in Egypt, as even peaceful ones can quickly become violent, and a foreigner could become a target of harassment or worse.  On June 28, 2013, a U.S. citizen was killed during a demonstration in Alexandria.  U.S. citizens have also been arrested and deported for proximity to demonstrations and for taking pictures of demonstrations, police and military.  Foreign journalists, credentialed or not, have also been increasingly targeted by both security forces and Egyptian citizens while attempting to cover demonstrations or gain access to restricted areas.  Several have been detained for prolonged periods as a result of their activities, and others have been subjected to verbal or physical assault by citizens suspicious about the reason for their presence.

Because of the proximity of the U.S. Embassy to Tahrir Square and other demonstration locations in Cairo, the U.S. Embassy has sometimes been closed to the public on short notice due to violent protests.  The Embassy will notify U.S. citizens as quickly as possible of any closing and the types of emergency consular services that will be available.  Should security forces block off the area around the U.S. Embassy during demonstrations, U.S. citizens should contact the American Citizens Services section before attempting to come to the U.S. Embassy during that time.  U.S. citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments and to carry identification and, if moving about alone, a cell phone or other means of communication that works in Egypt.

The U.S. Embassy restricts its employees and their family members from traveling to specific areas listed in the Country Specific Information Sheet, and advises all U.S. citizens to do the same.  Depending on the current security situation, the U.S. Embassy may also restrict the movements of its employees and their families within Cairo itself.  We continue to urge U.S. citizens to stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times.  Please check our Country Specific Information Sheet for further security guidance. Remain alert to local security developments and be vigilant regarding your personal security; know the locations of police and fire stations, hospitals, and the U.S. Embassy.

Unless otherwise indicated in a public announcement, the U.S. Embassy is open for all routine American Citizens Services by appointment.  U.S. citizens needing emergency assistance do not need an appointment.  Visit the Embassy website to check the latest changes to Embassy hours or services.  U.S. citizens with routine phone inquiries may call the Embassy's American Citizens Services section at 2797-2301, Sunday to Thursday from 9:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. For emergencies after business hours and on weekends and holidays, U.S. citizens can contact the Embassy Duty Officer via the Embassy switchboard on 2797-3300.  The U.S. Embassy is closed on U.S. federal holidays.  U.S. citizens in Egypt are encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Internet website where the Worldwide Caution, Country Specific Information for Egypt, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.

Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The U.S. Embassy in Egypt is located at 5 Tawfik Diab Street (formerly known as Latin America Street), Garden City, Cairo.  For emergencies after business hours and on weekends and holidays, U.S. citizens can contact the Embassy Duty Officer via the Embassy switchboard on 2797-3300.

2. Russian Federation Travel Alert - Events in Ukraine

Posted on 14 March 2014 | 7:25 am
The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens in Russia to the ongoing tensions in Ukraine and the potential for increased public demonstrations and anti-American actions in Russia in connection with Russian actions in the Crimea.

The Department of State also alerts U.S. citizens in Russia to the heightened military presence and on-going military exercises of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation along the border region with Ukraine.  This Travel Alert expires on June 13, 2014.  The Department of State strongly recommends that all U.S. citizens residing or traveling abroad enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to receive pertinent safety and security information. 

The U.S. government currently has no information concerning active military conflict inside Russia as a result of regional tensions or of any threat specific to U.S. citizens.  However, all U.S. citizens located in or considering travel to the border region, specifically the regions bordering Ukraine in Bryansk, Kursk, Belgorod, Voronezh, and Rostov Oblasts and Krasnodar Krai, should be aware of the potential for escalation of tensions, military clashes (either accidental or intentional), or other violence, and the potential for threats to safety and security.  Media accounts note there has been a sizable Russian military build-up in those regions and there are reports of an increased presence of Russian neo-Nazi and radical nationalist and extremist groups in those regions.

U.S. citizens considering travel to Russia should evaluate their personal security situation in light of current political tensions and the possibility of violence or anti-U.S. actions directed against U.S. citizens or U.S. interests.  

The Department of State advises that U.S. citizens should avoid all public demonstrations, whether properly authorized by local officials or not, and avoid any large crowds and public gatherings that lack enhanced security measures.  Demonstrations related to the conflict may appear anywhere throughout Russia, at any time.  These demonstrations may increase the possibility of confrontation and violence.  Review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates.  Maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.  

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Russia enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  STEP enrollment allows you to receive the Department’s safety and security updates, and makes it easier for the nearest U.S. embassy or U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you do not have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Regularly monitor the State Department’s website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution, and read the Country Specific Information for the Russian Federation.  For additional information, refer to the "Traveler's Checklist" on the State Department's website.  Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free from within the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).  Follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.

The American Citizen Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow assists U.S. citizens in Russia. We can help you with passport issuance and renewal, voter assistance, notarials, and registering a child born abroad. We also provide emergency services for U.S. citizens in case of a disaster or in case of illness, arrest, death or destitution while in Russia. 

Appointments are required for all non-emergency services; you can make an appointment by calling the ACS unit at 7 (495) 728-5577, or you may click here to schedule an appointment online.  To contact us with questions, please write to moscowwarden@state.gov or visit the Embassy website.

Emergency Contact Information in Russia:

U.S. Embassy Moscow:
U.S. citizens with an emergency during regular office hours (M-F 9am-6pm, excluding Russian and U.S. holidays) are welcome to visit the ACS unit at the U.S. Embassy, 21 Novinsky Blvd., Moscow.
Tel: (7) (495) 728-5577 - 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, weekdays
For after-hours emergencies, call (7) (495) 728-5000 after 6:00 pm, and on weekends and holidays.

U.S. Consulate General St. Petersburg:
The U.S. Consulate General in St. Petersburg is located at 15 Furshatskaya Street, Tel: (+7) (812) 331-2600.  You may contact the Consulate’s ACS unit by e-mail at StPetersburgACS@State.gov, or by fax at (+7) (812) 331-2646, or visit the Consulate website.
For after-hours emergencies, call (812) 331-2600 and listen to the recorded message for the Duty Officer’s cell phone number.

U.S. Consulate General Vladivostok:
Tel: (+7) (4232) 30-00-70

U.S. Consulate General Yekaterinburg:
Tel: (+7) (3432) 793-001

3. Thailand Travel Alert

Posted on 14 February 2014 | 7:25 am
The U.S. Department of State alerts U.S. citizens of the potential risks of travel to Thailand, particularly Bangkok, due to ongoing political and social unrest.

General voting for national elections took place on February 2, but the electoral process remains incomplete.  Demonstrations, primarily in the greater Bangkok area and occasionally elsewhere in Thailand, are continuing, and there have been regular incidents of violence.  U.S. citizens are advised to avoid all protests, demonstrations, and large gatherings.  Some protest sites are located near tourist attractions and popular shopping malls, which at times have closed or shortened business hours unexpectedly.  Protests may occur in other areas with little or no prior notice.  This Travel Alert supersedes the Travel Alert issued on January 19, 2014, and will expire on May 19, 2014.

Political demonstrations in Thailand have taken place regularly since early November 2013.  Most protest activity has occurred in the Bangkok area, but on occasion there have been smaller demonstrations in other areas, including Chiang Mai.  Although many protest activities have been peaceful, violent incidents involving guns and explosive devices have occurred at or near protest sites.  Some have resulted in injury or death.  In Bangkok, protests have been mobile throughout the city, with large numbers of demonstrators at times swelling quickly and closing major roads and intersections. The majority of the demonstrations have occurred in the vicinity of Thai government facilities and at major intersections including Lumpini Park, Sala Daeng, Asoke, Ratchaprasong, Pathumwan, and at the Government Center at Chaengwattana.  In January 2014, protestors took control of these intersections, blocking most vehicular traffic, and occasionally redirecting pedestrian traffic.  These sites have drawn large crowds, especially in evenings and on weekends.  There is often reduced or no police presence at protest sites, where protest “guards” frequently control access.

On January 22, the Royal Thai Government commenced a 60-day state of emergency in Bangkok and several surrounding provinces.  The emergency decree provides the government additional authorities to deal with security challenges, such as the ability to impose curfews, ban certain assemblies, detain suspects without charge, and restrict information.  The government has signaled its intention to take legal measures against some non-Thai citizens who have participated in protest activities.

U.S. citizens are cautioned that even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.  You should avoid protest sites, demonstrations, and large gatherings.  Be alert and aware of your surroundings and pay attention to local news media reports.  You should allow extra time when travelling throughout the city or to/from airports.  Consider using public transportation.
 
U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Thailand are strongly advised to enroll in the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  U.S. citizens without Internet access may enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  By enrolling, you make it easier for the U.S. embassy or consulate to contact you in case of an emergency.
 
Unless otherwise indicated in a public announcement, the U.S. Embassy is open for all routine American Citizens Services by appointment. U.S. citizens needing emergency assistance do not need an appointment. The American Citizen Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy is located at 95 Wireless Road in Bangkok, and can be reached by calling 66-2-205-4049, or by e-mailing acsbkk@state.gov.  The Embassy's after-hours emergency telephone number is 66-2-205-4000. 
 
The U.S. Consulate General in Chiang Mai, located at 387 Wichayanond Road in Chiang Mai, is also open unless otherwise indicated.  The American Citizen Services Unit of the Consulate General can be reached by calling 66-53-107-777 and by e-mail at acschn@state.gov.  The after-hours emergency telephone number is 66-81-881-1878.  You can also follow the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok's American Citizen Services Unit on Twitter for further updates.
 
Current information on safety and security can also be obtained on travel.state.gov or by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States or a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444 for callers from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for Thailand.  Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.  Follow us on Twitter and facebook as well.

4. South Pacific Cyclone Season

Posted on 15 January 2014 | 6:41 pm
The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to the South Pacific region about the ongoing threat of tropical cyclones affecting the area.

While tropical cyclones in the South Pacific may occur throughout the year, the current South Pacific Tropical Cyclone Season began on November 1, 2013, and ends April 30, 2014.  U.S. citizens living in or traveling to the region should monitor local weather reports and take other appropriate action as needed.  This Travel Alert expires on April 30, 2014.

Each tropical cyclone season, the South Pacific region experiences approximately nine tropical cyclones, about half of which reach Category 3 intensity or above, and have the potential to cause severe destruction.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recommends that people living or traveling in regions prone to tropical storms and tropical cyclones be prepared; for further information about tropical cyclone preparedness, please visit NOAA's Tropical Cyclones Preparedness Guide.  

Severe tropical cyclones have caused death, injury, and extensive property damage.  Many U.S. citizens traveling in the South Pacific region during tropical cyclone season have been forced to delay their return to the United States or other travel because of infrastructure damage to airports and limited flight availability.  Roads have been washed out or blocked by debris, impeding access to airports and land routes out of affected areas.  In the event of a tropical cyclone, you may not be able to depart an affected area for 24 to 48 hours or more, particularly if you are residing in or visiting a South Pacific Island country where air service is limited.

You also may encounter uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous conditions after storms pass.  In many places, tropical cyclones are often accompanied by damaging high tides and flooding.  If you are living near or staying close to the ocean or other bodies of water, you may be at higher risk.  Landslides and mudslides also are a serious concern during periods of heavy rain.  Looting and sporadic violence sometimes occur after natural disasters.  Be sure to check with local authorities for safety and security updates.  Weather conditions or damage to infrastructure may delay or prevent needed assistance from U.S. embassy and host country security personnel.

If the damage in the aftermath of a storm requires evacuation, the Department of State and our embassies and consulates overseas will work to identify and recommend the safest and most efficient means of travel away from the disaster.  Commercial airlines are often the best and least expensive source of transportation in an evacuation.  The Department arranges other means of transport, including U.S. military support, only as a last resort when commercial transportation is completely unavailable.  The Department of State does not provide free transportation, but it has the authority to provide you a loan to return to the United States if you are in financial need. You should consider obtaining travel insurance to cover unexpected expenses during an emergency, as well as medical insurance with provision for emergency medical evacuations to the United States.  In some instances, commercial medical evacuations can cost $100,000 or more and may not be covered by your insurance.

If you are living in or traveling to storm-prone regions overseas, you should prepare by organizing a kit containing a supply of bottled water, non-perishable food items, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio and vital documents, including your passport, and/or birth certificate and other photo identification, in a waterproof container.  Emergency shelters often have access to only basic resources and limited medical and food supplies.

Be sure to monitor local media to stay aware of weather developments.  For further information on tropical cyclone warnings in the South Pacific region, please consult the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Honolulu and the National Weather Service's Central Pacific Hurricane Center, Fiji's regional meteorological center responsible for tropical cyclone warnings in the South Pacific region, or the Government of Australia's Bureau of Meteorology.

Minor tropical storms can develop into tropical cyclones very quickly, limiting the time available for you to evacuate safely.  Tell family and friends in the United States of your whereabouts, and keep in close contact with your tour operator, hotel staff, and local officials for evacuation instructions in the event of a weather emergency.  Please protect your travel and identity documents against loss or damage, as the need to replace lost documentation could delay or otherwise complicate your return to the United States.

We encourage all U.S. citizens abroad to enroll with the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) or with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  STEP enrollment gives you the latest safety and security updates and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, as well as the Worldwide Caution.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.  Travelers can have the latest travel information at their fingertips by downloading our free Smart Traveler app, available through iTunes and Google Play.  While consular officers will do their utmost to assist you in a crisis, please be aware that local authorities have primary responsibility for the welfare of people living or traveling in their jurisdictions.

You will find additional information on cyclones and storm preparedness on the Bureau of Consular Affairs' Tropical Storm Season – Know Before You Go website.  You can receive updated information on travel in cyclone-prone regions from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the United States and Canada, or from other areas, 1-202-501-4444.  If you travel in the region, please check the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate that has consular responsibilities for the territory you will be visiting.  For further information, please consult the Country Specific Information website for the appropriate country or territory.

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