New Guidance on Travel to Heightened Risk Regions

On January 10, 2018, the U.S. Department of State implemented a new rating system to measure travel risk. The prior system of Travel Warnings/Alerts has been replaced by a color-coded, numerical rating system of Travel Advisories.

Each country is now given an overall rating from 1 to 4, as seen in the graphic below:

Travel Advisory Ratings

Advisory levels 2 through 4 now include clearly articulated risk factors such as crime, terrorism, civil unrest, health, natural disaster, and time-related events (such as elections or demonstrations). Please consult the State Department’s list of Travel Advisories for information about a specific country.

As a result of the changes, Penn’s Committee on International Travel Risk Assessment (CITRA) has updated Penn’s guidance for travel to heightened risk regions. As before, only undergraduate students will be required to seek approval for heightened risk travel. That said, graduate students, faculty, and staff may find the guidance helpful as they make travel plans.

Penn will require approval for all undergraduate travel to a country with a Level 3 or 4 rating. Students only need to receive approval for travel to a Level 1 or 2 country if they are visiting a region rated “high” or “extreme” risk by International SOS.

A few country rating changes may be especially notable to the Penn community:

  • Travel to Israel, Palestine, Ukraine, Philippines, Mexico, Jordan, and Ethiopia is no longer considered heightened risk (no approval required)

  • All travel to Cuba, Guatemala, and Russia is now considered heightened risk (approval required)

For more information, please contact Jaime Molyneux, Director of International Risk Management, at