United States of America Travel Advice
Security travel advice for the United States of America
How Safe are the United States of America?
Threat level: Medium–High
Following First Amendment violent protests that took place on the 5th of January, during which the Capitol was taken under siege by pro-Trump extremist protesters, the Mayor of Washington had issued a Public Emergency order that ended on the 21st of January. However, the situation is volatile and further disorder may occur as President Joe Biden starts his mandate. If you are in Washington, monitor local news and avoid taking part in any demonstrations that could turn violent.
COVID-19 Situation in the United States
There are reported cases of the coronavirus in the USA, with the states of California, Texas and Florida being the most affected.
To contain the spread of the virus, the US has declared national emergency. Travel from European countries of the Schengen border-free travel area including the UK and Ireland is banned and some states have imposed a 14-day quarantine for travels from other states or to present a negative COVID-19 test result.
Starting on the 26th of January, all airline passengers travelling to the United States, aged two years or older, must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 viral test, taken within three calendar days of travel or when testing positive, documentation providing evidence of recovery from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel, issued by a healthcare provider or public health official. Travellers must also attest to having received a negative test result or having recovered from COVID-19 with medical clearance by completing the CDC disclosure and attestation to the United States of America. The use of face masks on public transport, on airplanes and at airports is compulsory.
However, additional measures may vary from one state to another including on the mandatory use of face masks in public places. Some states started reopening certain industries between May and June but new outbreaks in the summer have caused certain states to reinstate some of the restrictions on public venues or pause plans to reopen further.
See our healthcare section for details about the precautions to take to avoid contracting the disease.
Security in the United States
The United States of America has suffered over the past few decades from both internal and external terrorism. There is a present risk of terrorist activity in all major cities across the United States of America and in and around both domestic and overseas military bases. The United States of America is one of the largest countries in the world with a vast array of different ethnic groups and cultures.
Intelligent Protection International Limited provides Executive Protection services in the USA. If you are interested in these services, please visit: Executive Protection Bodyguards in America.
Recent Security Risk Events
On the 27th of October, a mass shooting occurred in Pittsburgh where a man stormed a synagogue, killing 11 people.
On the 28th of June 2018, a gunman, Jarrod Ramos, entered the premises of the Capital newspaper in Annapolis and killed 5 employees.
On the 14th of February 2018, an 'active shooter' incident has taken place in a School in Florida, north of Miami, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. There are reports of 17 students killed and over 50 injured, the shooter is said to have been arrested and named as Former student Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student of the School. Cruz entered the School using smoke grenades and setting off fire alarms to draw student out into the halls before opening fire on them. It is reported that teachers had been concerned about Cruz before and that he was not welcome on Campus due to threatening students.
The last (recorded) terrorist incident took place in New York on the 31st of October 2017, when a truck was droven into people on a cycleway in Lower Manhattan, killing 8 people and injuring 11 others. The suspect was shot by Police.
On the 2nd of October 2017, 59 people were killed and over 400 injured by an "active shooter" situation at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas. Police officials said that they have identified the suspect as Stephen Paddock and he is thought to have taken his own life after the shooting.
On the 17th September 2016 there were two bombings. One of these in the New York neighbourhood of Chelsea injured 28 people. The first bombing was pipe bombs that exploded at a military fun-run in New Jersey, at both events further devices were found close by. On this day there was also a series of stabbings at a Mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota; injuring 8 people. It is said that ISIS have claimed responsibility for this Mall attack.
On the evening of July 30th, 2016 there were two separate reports of gun shootings in downtown Austin, Texas. Police initially reported it to be an "active shooter" however as information developed the shootings were not thought to be linked. One person was killed and several more injured in the attacks. Both locations are considered to be safe and police are investigating the incidents. No suspects have been arrested at this time.
Lethal terrorist attacks on the United States of America have been limited in their success since heightened security has been implemented following 9/11. Although the USA has had tensions throughout the Islamic world triggering extremist style attacks, it is possible that Islamic terrorist could follow up with another mass attack such as 9/11. there has been an increase in terror attacks in other western nations such as France.
Gun crime does occur in some states of the USA. Overall the USA has the highest gun related murder rates in the world, about 20% more than Chile, the country in second place, however most of this is gang related wars and not targeted at innocent people. The level of general crime is quite high in some cities across the USA. As with many cities worldwide, great care should be taken when going out after dark and providing travellers undertake basic security precautions, most trips should be trouble free.
The largest terror attack being on 9th September 2001; carried out by Al-Qaeda with the use of number of aeroplanes on multiple of locations across the USA, resulting in the deaths of 2,977 with a further 6,000+ suffering from varying degree of injuries.
The USA's International Relations
The International relationships between the USA and the rest of the world are complex and varied due to it being a Western Superpower. The attitudes towards the USA foreign policy has changed since the Iraq war of 2003. The U.S. has many military bases throughout the world, due to this global infrastructure this enables a scaled attack surface.
The United States are strong, valued allies of the United Kingdom and continue to support one another in many ways. The country has done a lot to help support countries in need of help, including many African countries.
Travelling around the USA
Public transportation across the whole of the USA is highly developed but can be disrupted by severe seasonal weather or industrial action. Hiring a vehicle is simple in the USA but different States have different regulations and laws when it comes to licencing.
An international driving licence is useful but only in conjunction with a recognised nationally (British etc.) issued license. If in doubt check with the car hire company prior to booking and travel. For up-to-date information, see: U.S driving requirements
Commercial Travel Risk Services
Intelligent Protection International Limited provides companies and organisations with Commercial Travel Risk Services designed to mitigate risks of staff when they travel for business. If you are interested in these services, please see: Commercial Travel Risk Services.
Emergency Services in the USA
Police, Fire, Ambulance emergency: 911
Currency: United States Dollar
Time now in Washington DC:
Consular information for the USA
3100 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20008
Telephone: +1 202 588 6500
British Consulate General New York
845 Third Avenue
New York NY 10022
Telephone: +1 212 745 0200
Visa requirements for the USA
With the U.S. Visa Waiver programme it is possible for most British Citizen passport holders to visit the USA for 90 days without the application of a Visa. There are restrictions upon this including authorisation from the (ESTA) The Electronic System for Travel Authorisation.
It is advised that you consult your government's foreign travel department, as restrictions are in place since 21 January 2016 to anyone who has travelled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Somalia, Libya and Yemen since March 2011.
Healthcare and Immunisations
It is advised that visitors to United States of America are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. You should ensure that you have been further vaccinated against diseases such as Tetanus, which is usually administered when you are a young baby. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
COVID-19 is present in the United States and there is no vaccination against it. So, to limit the risk of contamination, wear a face mask, self-isolate, apply good hygiene practices, maintain social distancing, avoid public gatherings and unnecessary travel.
Zika Virus has been previously confirmed in U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as Puerto Rico, alongside this consideration is needed towards more exotic locations of USA to account for mosquito-borne diseases.
Extreme weather and natural disasters
The country is subject to severe seasonal weather from all ends of the spectrum, heavy snow falls across the North of the country, tornadoes in the mid-West and hurricanes in the south east costal region. Drought in the West caused by the El Niño effect as also led to regular large scale wild-fires.
Earthquakes are common in the West and Northwest coastal regions. Official sources of information:
Federal Emergency Management
U.S. National Hurricane Centre
U.S. National Weather Service
National Interagency Fire Centre