How safe is your next foreign trip? Our State Department is thinking of a number from 1 to 4

The U.S. State Department on Wednesday unveiled a four-point system for alerting Americans to the differing risks they face when traveling internationally.

Visitors to will find the agency’s assessments of countries around the world on a scale of 1 (“exercise normal precautions”) to 4 (“do not travel”).

Though the government’s cautions remain largely the same as they were under the previous system of travel warnings and alerts, the numerical approach is new. In Mexico (level 2: “exercise increased caution”), the State Department also grades each of the nation’s 31 states on the same scale.

It urges travelers to stay away from the states of Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas (all level 4). It assigns a level 3 rating (“reconsider travel”) to states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Estado de Mexico, Jalisco, Morelos, Nayarit, Nuevo Leon, San Luis Potosi, Sonora, Zacatecas.

The State Department has assigned level 2 rating (“exercise increased caution”) to the states of Baja California and Baja California Sur, both of which have seen sharp increases in homicides and turf battles between criminal groups in the last year.

Ashley Garrigus, spokesperson for the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, said the agency gives extra attention to conditions in Mexico “due to the number of U.S. citizens who travel there and the difference between the different areas. It’s our largest destination for U.S. citizens traveling aboard.”

Worldwide, the new advisories will also include up to seven indicators designed to clarify reasons for the warnings: C for crime, T for terrorism, U for civil unrest, H for health, N for natural disasters (and the aftermath), E for a time-limited events (like elections) and O for other.

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