19 Countries Where US Citizens Need a Will To Travel

The United States Department of State issues travel advisories which serve as a guide to travelers to understand the potential risks they may face as Americans abroad. These advisories are issued from level 1, countries where travelers should exercise normal precautions up to level 4, where the State Department warns “ Do Not Travel”.

Conveying funeral wishes to loved ones, drafting a will, and discussing property division are some of the things that the US State Department wants its citizens to do before they travel to countries that have level 4 ratings. The primary areas the US government says not to travel to right now are discussed below:


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According to the State Department, this Central Asian country is fighting off terrorism, wrongful detention, kidnapping, and crime. US citizens are particularly at risk for wrongful detention and kidnapping. The US embassy in Kabul ceased operations in August 2021. Many forms of international aid have been withdrawn since the Taliban’s resurgence of power. In 2022, the government reinstituted public floggings and executions and the rights of women are disappearing under the Taliban.


Niasvish castle, Belarus. Aerial photo

The country has been listed under a level 4 rating for Belarusian authorities’ continued support of Russia’s war against Ukraine, the buildup of Russian military forces in Belarus, the arbitrary enforcement of local laws, the potential of civil unrest, the risk of detention, and the Embassy’s limited ability to assist it’s citizens there.

Burkina Faso

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This West African nation is in the grip of terrorism, crime, and kidnapping. The East and Sahel regions of the country are under a state of emergency and terrorist attacks with little to no warning are commonplace.

Central African Republic

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This country has been listed under level 4 advisory because of the US Embassy’s limited capacity to provide support to its citizens, crime, civil unrest, and kidnapping. Data from UNICEF suggests that this country has the worst drinking water accessibility of all countries in 2022.


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Armed conflict and civil unrest are the main reasons for this country being listed under level 4 advisory. Limited healthcare resources, wrongful detentions, and “areas with landmines and unexploded ordnance” are also the reasons.


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The region is facing a war between Hamas, a terrorist organization, and Israel, with regular Israeli airstrikes leading to extensive civilian casualties in Gaza. As of December 2023, nearly 85% of Gaza’s population has been displaced from their homes, according to UN estimates. The region faces acute shortages of food, water, electricity, and medical supplies.


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There is an increased risk of kidnapping and violent crime in this country along with an armed conflict between gangs and police. The travel advisory states that cases of kidnapping often involve ransom negotiations and US citizens have been harmed in the process. A series of gang attacks in September 2023 caused thousands to flee their homes.


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Terrorism, kidnapping, and civil unrest are the risk factors for all travelers to this country, while US citizens are at an increased risk for “arbitrary arrest”. U.S.-Iranian nationals such as students, journalists, etc. have been arrested on charges of espionage and threatening national security. Executions in Iran rose to a high level between 2021 and 2022 according to a report by Amnesty International released in May 2023.


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Terrorism, kidnapping, armed conflict, and civil unrest are the causes of this country’s level 4 categorization. Iraq’s northern borders and its border with Syria are particularly dangerous.  There has been a rise in attacks against Iraqi military bases that host US troops and other international forces since the escalation of tension in neighboring Israel in October 2023. The non-emergency US government personnel and eligible family members were asked to leave the US embassy in Baghdad.


TRIPOLI/LIBYA 1ST NOVEMBER 2006 – Evening shot of the Tripoli waterfront

Libya has been wrestling with internal conflict between armed groups in the East and West following the end of its dictatorship over a decade ago. Armed conflict, civil unrest, crime, kidnapping, and terrorism are all the reasons for its level 4 distinction.

US citizens have been targets of kidnapping for ransom with terrorists targeting the hotels and other places frequented by Westerners. The US embassy in Tripoli ceased operations in 2014.

Floods, which some say were intensified by climate change, killed thousands in eastern Libya. Clashes between armed factions escalated across the country in the latter half of 2023.


A front view of the Djenne mud mosque in Mali

Crime, terrorism, and kidnapping are all the prevalent threats in this country which has experienced military coups in 2020 and 2021. A UN report in August 2023 said that military groups in the country were spreading terror through the use of violence against women and human rights abuses.


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Each state in Mexico is assessed separately for travel advisory levels. Six of the 32 states in Mexico are designated as level 4. These are Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas,and Zacatecas. Crime and kidnapping are listed as the primary risk factors throughout the country.

North Korea

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The travel advisory states that the level 4 distinction is due to the continuing serious risk of arrest and long-term detention of U.S. Nationals. This country is home to one of the world’s longest-running dictatorships and a US passport is not valid for travel ‘to, in, or through’ this country.


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The travel advisory cites its invasion of Ukraine, harassment of US citizens by Russian government officials, and arbitrary law enforcement as few of the reasons for level 4 designation. Chechnya and Mount Elbrus are specifically listed as level 4 regions.


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Crime, terrorism, civil unrest, health, and kidnapping are all risk factors. In 2022, a severe famine resulting from failed rainy seasons killed 43000 people amid conflict with Islamist insurgents. Violent crime is common throughout Somalia.


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The advisory states that “ No part of Syria is safe from violence” with terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, armed conflict, and risk of unjust detention all potential risk factors. US citizens are often the targets of kidnapping and detention. The fighting in neighboring Israel has escalated and this has spilled over into Syria.



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This country has been put under the level 4 category due to Russia’s invasion although crime and civil unrest are also the potential risk factors.


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Threats in the country include crime, civil unrest, kidnapping, wrongful detention, and poor health infrastructure. This country has been in the midst of a political crisis since 2014 and human rights abuses and lack of health care plague this nation.


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Terrorism, civil unrest, health risks, kidnapping, armed conflicts, and landmines are the potential risk factors in this country.  The US embassy in Sanaa halted operations in 2015. Civil war and cholera are rampant in this country.

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