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Emergency and Other Messages for U.S. Citizens

Consular Information Program

The Department of State utilizes this program to inform U.S. citizens/nationals of potential threats to their health or safety abroad. U.S. law requires that the Department share information with U.S. citizens that will assist them in making prudent decisions about their own safety. The Bureau of Consular Affairs is responsible for issuing Travel Alerts, Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets on behalf of the Department of State. All these documents are posted on the State Department's internet site, Our embassies and consulates are responsible for sending information to Americans resident abroad through what we refer to as Warden Messages. If the Warden Message concerns a threat to safety or security of U.S. citizens, it must be approved by the Department before release unless immediate notice is critical to the security of U.S. citizens/nationals.

The "No Double Standard" Policy

In administering the Consular Information Program, the Department of States applies a "no double standard" policy to important security threat information, including criminal information. Such information, if shared with the official U.S. community (generally defined as Americans working for the U.S. government abroad), must be made available to the wider American community if the threat applies to both official and non-official Americans.

Types of Documents

There are three main types of documents issued through the Consular Information Program:

  • Travel Alerts (including Worldwide Caution Travel Alerts and regional Travel Alerts): Travel Alerts are issued to inform the American public quickly about relatively short-term conditions posing imminent risks to the security of U.S. citizens/nationals. Examples of events that might prompt a Travel Alert include terrorist attacks, coups, election-related demonstrations or violence, or demonstrations related to an international conference or sporting event.
  • Travel Warnings: Travel Warnings advise U.S. citizens about the risks of travel to countries where conditions are dangerous or unstable and/or where the U.S. government's ability to assist its citizens is constrained because of an Embassy drawdown or closure.
  • Consular Information Sheets (CIS): CIS provide basic information to enable travelers to make an informed decision about travel to a particular country. For example, a CIS will include (among other things) entry and exit requirements, road safety, crime information, health conditions, customs information and the contact information of the U.S. Embassy in that country.

The Consular Information Program also includes Warden Messages issued by posts abroad, Fact Sheets issued by the Department to address topical issues (for example, avian influenza) and travel brochures.

Warden Messages and Systems

Warden Messages are used by U.S. embassies and consulates to disseminate information about routine topics such as voter registration, income tax season, new passport procedures, and other non-security related issues of importance to the local U.S. citizen community. Warden Messages are also used to inform U.S. citizens about events or threats that can affect their personal security. In addition to being disseminated to and by the wardens through a number of different methods (for example, by phone, fax, email or text messages), warden messages are posted on the Embassy's public website.

We use three kinds of official local communications with our enrolled U.S. citizens:

(1)  “Message for U.S. Citizens” to disseminate information about routine topics such as voter registration, income tax season, new passport procedures, and other administrative/non-security issues of interest to the local U.S. citizen community.

(2)  "Security Message for U.S. Citizens" to communicate information about personal security threats of a general or systemic nature, or events/threats where local law-enforcement has taken measures to address or provide enhanced security to the general public.  Such threats may include crime trends, demonstrations, peaceful actions intended to disrupt normal activity (i.e., strikes, sit-ins, marches), or localized events not likely to affect large numbers of U.S. citizens.

(3)  “Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens” to inform U.S. citizens about imminent events or threats that can affect their personal security and that may require immediate action by U.S. citizens on their own behalf, or by others, to ensure their safety.  Emergency Messages may also be appropriate for threats to large numbers of U.S. citizens, circumstances where new developments to an existing security threat heighten the risks to U.S. citizens, or situations that put the life or safety of U.S. citizens in peril.  This includes potentially violent demonstrations, civil disturbances, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, extraordinary measures by local authorities such as martial law, and other non-publicized breaking events.  When the Department revises the Worldwide Caution, or issues a Travel Alert or Travel Warning for your country or region, this is disseminated with a Security or an Emergency Message.

Kenya Travel Warning  - The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Kenya. U.S. citizens in Kenya, and those considering travel to Kenya, should evaluate their personal security situation in light of continuing and recently heightened threats from terrorism and the high rate of violent crime in some areas. The levels of risk vary throughout the country. This replaces the Travel Warning of January 14, 2013, to update information about the current security situation. Read more

Worldwide Caution - The Department of State has issued this Worldwide Caution to update information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world. U.S. citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. This replaces the Worldwide Caution dated July 18, 2012, to provide updated information on security threats and terrorist activities worldwide. Read more

Kenya Consular Information SheetKenya is a developing East African country known for its wildlife and national parks. The capital city is Nairobi. The second largest city is Mombasa, located on the southeast coast. Tourist facilities are widely available in Nairobi, the game parks, the reserves, and on the coast. English and Kiswahili are Kenya’s two official languages. Read more

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