The agency monitors the world for potential trouble and issues warnings from “Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions” to “Level 4: Do Not Travel,” alerting would-be visitors to terrorism threats, war, arbitrary enforcement of local laws, high crime rates and other personal security issues.
But have you ever wondered how other countries’ governments caution their citizens about coming to the United States? What kind of reputation does America have?
CNN Travel checked out what the governments of the United States’ neighbors and closest allies have to tell their citizens about coming here. It’s not exactly a flattering picture.
Would-be visitors aren’t being warned off entirely as if America is an active war zone. Each nation has its own approach, but a general theme boils down to this: The United States is more violent than what you’re used to. Learn to take precautions there that you might not have to take at home.
The other takeaway: Violent crime rarely involves tourists.
Here’s more on what nine countries — which account for a good chunk of the US international tourism traffic — have to say:
In a Global Lessons on Guns, Fareed explores how Australia passed comprehensive gun reform in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre.
So for more than 25 years, Australians have lived in quite a different gun culture than that of Americans.
It goes on to say that “the US has a higher level of violent crime than Australia, but incidents rarely involve tourists.” It does not provide notice of specific incidents “unless there’s a significant risk to Australians.”
Still, it’s not warning its citizens off US travel. As of November 25, it advised to “exercise normal safety precautions in the United States of America.”
The Ambassador Bridge spans the Detroit River to connect Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit, Michigan. With Covid-19 restrictions lifted, land travel between the two North American neighbors is back. But what does Canada think about the mass shootings in the US?
Tara Walton/The Washington Post/Getty Images
Canada advises its citizens to “take normal security precautions” when visiting the United States.
It also warns about gang- and organized crime-related violence in large urban areas, noting that violent crime “rarely affects tourists,” but cautioning travelers to be mindful of their surroundings and not to resist if threatened by robbers.
The government also reminds Canadians of the frequent mass shootings in the United States. “Incidences of mass shootings occur, resulting most often in casualties. Although tourists are rarely involved, there is a risk of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
It also tells its citizens that “violent crime, including gun crime, rarely involves tourists, but you should take care when travelling in unfamiliar areas. Avoid walking through less traveled areas alone, especially at night.”
Like Canada, the UK cautions about the US-Mexico border.
In the advice column, the UK warns its citizens away from inappropriate humor: “Don’t make flippant remarks about bombs or terrorism, especially when passing through US airports.”
Lauren Redfern, a 31-year-old London resident who is completing a PhD in medical anthropology, made extensive trips to the United States in 2018 (Chicago to New Orleans) and 2022 (Los Angeles).
She told CNN Travel this past summer that she had awareness about US gun violence as she started her 2018 trip, but she felt far removed from it. “At that time, I absolutely wouldn’t consider doing anything differently” than she’d do in the United Kingdom.
But while staying in an Airbnb in New Orleans, she was doing laundry in a common area when someone cracked open a door and poked in the barrel of a shotgun.
No shots were fired, but “it was this weird, out-of-body experience where it really made me think and appreciate and understand ‘oh, this is very real’ on a level I have never experienced and will never experience in the UK.”
“That experience definitely changed my sense of personal safety while traveling in the US,” Redfern said.
It didn’t deter her from making another US trip, but “it changed the way I thought about American culture.” She’s much less likely now to venture out alone when visiting the United States versus London, where she has no worries about doing so.
Israel is a very security-minded country with special ties to the United States.
For example, people are warned away from the North African nation of Algeria, which has an 04 ranking because of terror groups and “hostility towards Israel on the Algerian street.”
It says generally “the United States of America is among the safest countries,” but it does warn French citizens about some urban areas and notes an increase in carjackings.
Interestingly, the ministry breaks down potential threats to very specific neighborhoods. A couple of examples:
• In Boston, “it is recommended to avoid traveling alone, on foot and at night, in certain parts of Dorchester, Mattapan and Roxbury.”
• In Atlanta, French visitors are told to “be vigilant in isolated areas of the city center (downtown) after the close of business and favor taxi travel at night.”
German airline Lufthansa ferries many people between the United States and Europe.
It also warns would-be visitors to the US about the possibilities of domestic clashes over racism and police violence, advising them to “avoid gatherings of people in the vicinity of which violence could possibly occur.”
For Americans, State Department travel advisories are a valuable resource for figuring out the safer areas of Mexico to visit.
The government advised its citizens to avoid large crowds in the United States and for travelers to always carry a copy of their Mexican passport and an official photo ID.
A Japan Airlines passenger jet takes off from Haneda Airport in Tokyo. The Japanese government gives its citizens explicit instructions on what to do if caught in an active shooter incident in the United States.
Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images
So it’s no surprise that the government warns that “it is important to recognize that the security situation is very different between the United States and Japan, and to understand what kind of crime victims are at high risk in what areas.”
It says “one of the main security concerns in the United States is gun crime” and offers a lot of advice for getting out of or hunkering down in possible active shooter situations, including:
• Find security exits in a new place and have an evacuation plan
• Escape regardless of whether others agree or not
• Hide in a room and barricade the door using heavy furniture
• Keep quiet and mute cell phones
If a Japanese tourist can’t escape or hide, they’re advised to “throw things close to the criminal, use them as weapons; scream; act with all your might.”
As of November 25, Australia’s island neighbor had an “exercise increased caution (level 2 of 4)” alert for the United States “due to the threat of terrorism.”
It suggests that people coming to the United States research their specific destinations before traveling and seek local advice.