Foreign travel advice


Safety and security


There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times.   

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.

Terrorism in the USA

Terrorists are very likely to try and carry out attacks in the US.

Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. You should remain aware of your surroundings, keep up to date with local media reports and follow the advice of local authorities. Targets could include:

  • crowded areas
  • transportation networks
  • public events

The US Department of Homeland Security provides current alerts within the US and its territories.


Protecting your belongings

Do not leave passports in rental cars, especially not in the boot. Gangs may target vehicles driven by people who look like tourists.

Violent crime

Violent crime and gun crime rarely affect tourists, but take care in unfamiliar areas. Try not to walk through quieter areas alone, especially at night. You can find public advisories and information about recent incidents on local law enforcement websites.

Mass shooting incidents can happen but are a very small percentage of murders. The US Department of Homeland Security has advice on what to do in an active shooter incident.

Research your destination before you travel and follow the advice of local authorities. Crime linked to illegal drugs is a major issue in Mexican states bordering Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. Some foreign nationals have been victims of crime in the border regions, but there is no evidence they were targeted because of their nationality.


Protests are common and can become violent. Follow the instructions of local authorities who may introduce curfews or emergency orders. If you attend peaceful protests:

  • be mindful of your surroundings
  • move away if there are signs of trouble
  • follow the instructions of local authorities

Laws and cultural differences

US states may have different laws. While you are in a state, you are subject to both that state’s laws as well as national (federal) law.

Personal ID

Always carry a passport showing you have permission to enter or remain in the US.

Alcohol laws

The national legal age for buying and drinking alcohol is 21. Some states have different laws. If you are aged 20 or under, check state laws before drinking or buying alcohol.

Illegal drugs and prison sentences

Possession or trafficking of illegal drugs in the US can carry a long prison sentence and a fine. Check state laws to make sure you follow laws on possession and use of controlled substances. The US Department of Justice provides a list of all controlled substances.

LGBT+ travellers

The US is a very diverse society and attitudes towards LGBT+ people differ hugely across the country. You can find more detail on LGBT+ issues in the US on the Human Rights Campaign website.

Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers

Transport risks

Road travel

If you are planning to drive in the US, see information on driving abroad and check the driving rules in the states you’ll be visiting.

You can use a UK photocard driving licence to drive in the US. You may need to get the 1949 version of the international driving permit (IDP) as well. IDP requirements vary in each state. For more information, consult individual states’ Department of Motor Vehicles as well as the American Automobile Association (AAA).

You cannot buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel.

If you still have a paper driving licence, you must take another form of photo ID, such as your passport. You can also exchange your paper driving licence for a photocard licence.

Hire car companies often have stricter requirements for their customers, such as a year of driving experience, a higher minimum age and holding an IDP.

Vehicle safety

When travelling by car, you should:

  • check weather conditions before a long car journey, particularly in mountainous, isolated or desert areas where services may be limited
  • not sleep in your car by the road or in rest areas
  • avoid leaving any items on display in your car
  • stay on main roads
  • use well-lit car parks

If you’re in an accident, ask any other drivers involved to follow you to a public place and call the police.

Petrol stations

Petrol stations that do not display the price of fuel usually charge considerably more than the national average. They’re often close to tourist destinations and airports. Make sure you know the price of fuel before using these services.

Air travel

Before you travel, check the security measures you’re likely to face at the airport on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website. If you have a medical condition or disability and need assistance, contact TSA Cares.

To monitor airport conditions in the US, check the Federal Aviation Administration website.

Extreme weather and natural disasters

Find out what you can do to prepare for and respond to extreme weather and natural hazards


Snowstorms can disrupt critical infrastructure, and cause power cuts, or delays and cancellations in major transport hubs. Contact your travel company or airline before you travel.


The Atlantic hurricane season normally runs from June to November. The Pacific hurricane season normally runs from May to November. Hurricanes can affect coastal regions, Hawaii and Guam. The South Pacific tropical cyclone season normally runs from November to May and can affect American Samoa.

You should:


While earthquakes can happen anywhere without warning in the US, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Washington and the entire Mississippi River Valley are at higher risk for earthquakes.

The FEMA website has advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake.


Tornadoes can happen anytime depending on weather conditions. The FEMA website has advice about what to do before, during and after a tornado.

Volcanic eruptions  

There is volcanic activity across parts of the US with Alaska, Hawaii, California, Washington and Oregon having the largest number of active volcanoes. You should follow the advice of local authorities, including any evacuation orders.

The FEMA website has advice about what to do before, during and after a volcanic eruption.


Forest and brush fires (wildfires) are a danger in many dry areas, particularly in canyons, hills and forests. High winds can mean fires spread rapidly.

You should:

  • monitor local media and weather reports
  • follow the advice of local authorities, including any evacuation orders
  • be careful in areas recently affected by wildfires, as there may be mudslides during heavy rainfall

For more information visit the National Interagency Fire Center and Fire Research and Management Exchange System websites.

For information about wildfires in California, see the CAL FIRE website.

Arctic travel

Parts of the US are in the Arctic Circle, including some very remote areas of land and sea. Emergency medical assistance and search and rescue are limited in these areas. See Arctic travel safety advice.