Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Before You Go > Travelers with Special Considerations > Travel to High-Risk Areas
In our country Travel Advisories, we advise you to not travel to high-risk countries or areas due to local conditions and/or our limited ability to provide consular services in those places.
You should strongly consider not going to them at all. Traveling to high-risk areas may put you at increased risk for kidnapping, hostage-taking, theft, and serious injury.
You are subject to the laws and the legal system of the country you are visiting.
We cannot help you in many high-risk areas. This may be due to a lack of a functioning government, the ineffectiveness or policies of local authorities, armed conflict, or poor governance.
In many countries where the United States does not maintain diplomatic or consular relations, we cannot provide consular services. In countries where the United States has an official protecting power arrangement, limited assistance may be available.
During a crisis in a high-risk area, we may have to rely on local resources to resolve matters. Please refer to our webpage on what we can and cannot do.
Please take a moment to review travel recommendations from:
The State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs
The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), a public/private partnership of major U.S. corporations with the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security
Before You Go to a High-Risk Area
After careful consideration, if you decide to go to high-risk areas, we strongly encourage you to:
Enroll your trip in the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
Draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and power of attorney.
Discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care and custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.), funeral wishes, etc.
Share important documents, login information, and points of contact with loved ones so that they can manage your affairs if you are unable to return as planned to the United States.
Learn how to use your phone or other smart devices to share your location with your friends and family while you are abroad.
Establish a personal security plan in coordination with your employer or host organization or consider consulting with a professional security organization.
Develop a communication plan with your family, employer, and host organization so that they can monitor your safety and location. This plan should specify who you would contact first, and how they should share the information.
Identify key sources of assistance for you and your family in case of an emergency, such as the local U.S. embassy or consulate, FBI, the State Department’s Office of American Citizen Services, your employer (if traveling on business), and local friends and family in the high-risk area.
Appoint one family member to serve as the point of contact with hostage-takers, media, U.S. and host country government agencies, and Members of Congress if you are taken hostage or detained.
Establish a proof of life protocol with your loved ones, so that if you are taken hostage, they will know specific questions (and answers) to ask the hostage-takers to be sure that you are alive (and to rule out a hoax).
Leave DNA samples with your medical provider in case it is necessary for your family to access them.
Erase sensitive photos, comments, or other materials from your social media pages, cameras, laptops, and other electronic devices that could be considered controversial or provocative by local groups.
Leave your expensive or sentimental belongings behind.
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