The U.S. State Department overhauled its travel advisory system for Americans traveling overseas, and bracketed five Mexican states into the most severe category.
The northern border state of Tamaulipas and Sinaloa, Colima, Michoacan and Guerrero were classed as the highest Level 4, which advises ‘Do Not Travel.’
Level 4 destinations have a ‘greater likelihood of life-threatening risks.’
Other Level 4 nations include Afghanistan, North Korea and Libya.
The other categories are Level 1 — Exercise Normal Precautions — lowest level of risk, Level 2 — Exercise Increased Precautions — heightened risk and Level 3 — Reconsider Travel — avoid travel due to serious risk.
Overall, Mexico has a Level 2 advisory.
Any Level 4 advisory does not specifically ban Americans from traveling there but strongly advises against it.
Within these groupings, the State Department also details the type of risk.
Destinations each have icons which include ‘C’ for crime, ‘T’ for terrorism or ‘U’ for civil unrest.
The changes came about as few Americans are aware of the difference between a ‘travel warning’ and a ‘travel alert,’ and the new grading also details any potential risks that may be limited to a specific region rather than an entire nation.
“It’s laid out in a format that is much more readily accessible, much more easily understandable, and I think far more actionable than our other travel warnings and travel alerts,” said Michelle Bernier-Toth, acting deputy assistant secretary for overseas citizen services.
“How we assess the threat level in a country hasn’t changed. It’s how we describe those conditions and set those levels that has changed. I think people will find it easier to understand than the old travel warnings.”