State Dept Travel Advisory - Level 4

Ethiopia Travel Advisory Now Includes Level 4 Warnings

Ethiopia travel warnings expanded by US Department of State
festival in ethiopia
Africa (Vax Before Travel)

The Level 2 Travel Advisory for the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia has been expanded to include Level 3 and 4 warnings by the US Department of State.

On August 20, 2019, the new State Department Level 4 Travel Advisories said 'Do Not Travel' to the following areas in Ethiopia:

  • Border area with Somalia due to the potential for terrorism, kidnapping, and landmines
  • Border areas with Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, and Eritrea due to crime, armed conflict, and civil unrest

And, new Level 3 Travel Advisories 'Reconsider Travel To', were issued for these areas:

  • Somali Regional State due to the potential for terrorism.
  • Ethiopia’s Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR) due to civil unrest.
  • The East Hararge region and the Guji zone of Oromia State due to armed conflict and civil unrest.
  • Benishangul Gumuz and the western part of Oromia State due to armed conflict and civil unrest.

U.S. government personnel and their families may not travel to the areas listed as Level 3 and Level 4 in this Travel Advisory, except for official business and with prior approval from the Embassy.

Furthermore, the Government of Ethiopia has restricted or shut down the internet, cellular data, and phone services during periods of civil unrest. 

These restrictions impede the U.S. Embassy’s ability to communicate with and provide consular services to U.S. citizens in Ethiopia. Furthermore, the U.S. Embassy has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside of Addis Ababa.

These travel warnings are unfortunate news since Ethiopia was named the world’s best tourist destination of the year in 2015. Ethiopia has a population of approximately 110 million residents and is located in the northeastern part of Africa, known as the Horn of Africa. 

If you decide to visit Ethiopia, the US Department of State suggests the following preventive actions:

  • Be aware of your surroundings when traveling to tourist locations and large crowded public venues.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities including movement restrictions related to any ongoing police action.
  • Monitor local media for breaking events and adjust your plans based on new information.
  • Do not physically resist any robbery attempt, nor display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations, such as this Traveler’s Checklist.
  • U.S. citizens needing assistance can contact the U.S. Consulate located at Entoto Street, PO Box 1014, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  Telephone +251-11-130-6000; Email: [email protected].

Regarding health risks to Ethiopian visitors, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggested on July 18, 2019, that visitors are current with certain vaccines, such as Routine Vaccines and the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.

Ethiopia is included in the CDC’s Global Measles Outbreak Notice, issued on June 10, 2019.

And recently, on August 21st, 2019, the CDC issued Level 2 Travel Alerts regarding poliovirus outbreaks in 5 African counties, including Ethiopia. These polio outbreaks are caused by vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV), a sign of low oral polio vaccine coverage.

The CDC recommends that all travelers to these countries be fully vaccinated against polio, which is a crippling and potentially deadly disease that affects the nervous system.

Additionally, the Yellow fever virus is a risk in certain parts of Ethiopia, therefore, the CDC recommends a yellow fever vaccine, such as Stamaril, for travelers 9 months of age or older to these areas. 

And, the government of Ethiopia requires proof of yellow fever vaccination if you are traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever, which does not include the USA. For more information on recommendations and requirements, see yellow fever recommendations and requirements for Ethiopia.

For anyone departing from the USA, pre-departure vaccination services, related travel medications, and counseling appointments can be scheduled with a local pharmacy by visiting Vax-Before-Travel.

Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. You are encouraged to report vaccine side effects to the CDC.


Article by
Dani Reiter