Health, Safety, & Security: Resources for Monitoring Conditions Abroad

January 16, 2018

Education abroad professionals need the most current and accurate information available to make decisions about their programs, faculty, and students. The resources listed below offer information from various sources to help make decisions about safety and security.

U.S. Government Sources

The U.S. State Department provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world, providing information on visas, crime and security, health and medical issues and more.

Every country in the world is assigned an advisory level ranging from ‘Level 1 – Exercise Normal Precautions’ to ‘Level 4 – Do Not Travel.’ Travel Advisory levels 2-4 will also contain risk indicators and offer specific advice for those choosing to travel to those countries, with indications such as Crime, Terrorism, Civil Unrest, Health, Natural Disaster, Time-limited Event, and Other. U.S. Embassies and consulates abroad will also issue “Travel Alerts”. Alerts will be labeled according to their issue: Security Alert; Health Alert; Weather Alert; or Demonstration Alert. Travel Alerts will follow a simplified format that allows the State Department to get safety messages out to the public more quickly. Recent alerts for a country will also appear below the Travel Advisory if an alert exists.

To receive updated Travel Advisories and Alerts for specific destinations in your education abroad portfolio, sign up at

Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) is a division of the U.S. State Department that fosters the exchange of security information between the government and the private sector operating abroad. The general Web site provides daily news, reports, events, incidents and other information. OSAC constituency is available to any American-owned, not-for-profit organization, or any enterprise incorporated in the U.S. (parent company, not subsidiaries or divisions) doing business overseas.

The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. You may also enroll in STEP to monitor safety conditions for specific destination(s) overseas in your education abroad portfolio. Registration with STEP will help education abroad advisors and travelers stay informed of any travel warnings and travel alerts for your location and stay connected in case of emergencies. STEP enrollment is a key part of travel planning and security.

Sources from Governments of Other Countries

Health Agencies

The Centers for Disease Control, CDC Travel Information (CDC) provides official U.S. government information about health conditions worldwide, including recommendations for immunizations.

The United Nations' World Health Organization (WHO) provides country profiles for each of its member countries.

Private, Pay-for-Service Companies

In addition to the public resources available to international educators, a number of private, pay-for-service companies assist in monitoring safety conditions abroad. In addition to the services, briefings, and consultation they provide to their clients, some of these companies also offer some information free of charge on their Web sites. NAFSA's International Education Marketplace includes information and links to some of the risk management and consulting firms that have joined the NAFSA Global Partnership Program.

Les McCabe (Institute for Shipboard Education) and Michael Steinberg (IES-Abroad) contributed to this resource page.

H&S Subcommittee

Roster and charge

Related Resources

Travel - State Dept