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Foreign Travel Training

Effective March 23, 2021, NEW UPDATE - Further Extension of Foreign Affairs Counter Threat (FACT) Waivers Due to COVID

The Department of State has issued new guidance regarding the extension of waivers for the FACT course. As of April 1, 2021, the FACT requirement has resumed for personnel traveling to High Threat High Risk (HTHR) posts.

The below quick reference guide provides a summary of the FACT requirements:

Effective 4/1/2021 FACT Required for:
  • High Threat High Risk Posts
  • Entry Level Foreign Service Officers
Effective 11/1/2020 FACT Required for:
  • Posts with at least one CRITICAL SETL rating
Effective 4/1/2022 FACT Required for:
  • Posts with at least one HIGH SETL rating
Everyone else takes CTAT until notified otherwise.

Effective November 30, 2020, NEW UPDATE - Status of Foreign Affairs Counter Threat (FACT) Training and Blanket Waiver Extension

FACT training resumed in July 2020 utilizing COVID-19 mitigation protocols established in partnership with the Bureau of Medical Services (MED) and following, and in some cases exceeding, Department and CDC guidelines. There are FACT seats available and Diplomatic Security (DS) encourages all personnel to enroll in FACT as soon as possible and not wait for the extended blanket FACT waiver period to end. DS is committed to ensuring the safety, health, and education of our students. To that end, we will continue to revise and review course offerings and delivery to find the best balance of safety, health, and education while continuing to provide world-class training.

DS continues to ensure mission-critical training and operations remain viable but, with locations in the U.S. and around the world seeing COVID-19 cases spiking as we enter the winter season, the current blanket FACT waiver has been extended and only certain categories of personnel are required to take FACT following the extension until such time that FACT training capacity can increase to meet the total FACT training need.

To ensure personnel can undertake official travel to foreign areas when required, the DOS Under Secretary for Management (M) approved an extension of the current blanket FACT waiver for:

1. U.S. government personnel from any department, agency, or entity for whom FACT training requirements would normally apply, who are traveling abroad on official duty (regardless of whether the travel is PCS or TDY) before April 1, 2021. The blanket waiver will remain in effect until those personnel travel back to the U.S. on official orders.

2. Those personnel previously issued FACT waivers and scheduled to complete FACT between March 16, 2020 and March 31, 2021, will have their waivers extended until their next official travel back to the United States.

Official international travel under the Department of State Chief of Mission (COM) requires training prior to travel. All personnel performing official international travel for less than 90 days cumulative for the calendar year are required to complete the Counter Threat Awareness Training (CTAT) course online via the Commerce Learning Center (CLC). Personnel going on official international travel for 90 days or more cumulative for the calendar year (extended TDY or Permanent Change of Station) are required to complete the Foreign Affairs Counter Threat (FACT) course.

Counter Threat Awareness Training (CTAT)

Traveling internationally fewer than 90 days cumulative for the calendar year?

CTAT fulfills a Department of State mandatory training requirement for all personnel traveling internationally for less than a cumulative 90 days for the calendar year. CTAT is not required for, and does not include, non-official (personal) international travel.

CTAT training on the CLC takes approximately 5 hours to complete all modules. The CTAT completion certificate is valid for 6 years, at which time the training must be completed again.

If an individual is executing official international travel and does not have access to the CLC, the CTAT is accessible via the Department of State Foreign Service Institute (FSI) website which temporarily is offered free of charge.

Foreign Affairs Counter Threat (FACT)

Traveling internationally for 90 days or more (e.g. Permanent Change of Station to overseas post) cumulative for the calendar year?

Personnel who will incur 90 days or more of official international travel cumulative for the calendar year on temporary duty [or on permanent change of station (PCS) orders] are required to complete the 5-day FACT course. Enrollment procedures, cost, course schedule and other information regarding this training can be found at the Department of State (DOS) Foreign Service Institute (FSI) website. This course is valid for 6 years.

A valid FACT course certificate will be recognized in lieu of the CTAT requirement for official international travel.

Counterintelligence Briefings

The Department of State requires specific Counterintelligence briefings prior to approving official government travel to some countries.

Applicable DOC travelers will be notified of this requirement via their eCountry Clearance response message directing them to contact Diplomatic Security's Counterintelligence division (DOS/DS/CI) to receive this briefing. DOC is able to provide the DOS briefings directly to Department travelers so please contact your bureau’s Field Servicing Security Office to ensure compliance with this requirement.


For questions related to HTSOS or FACT training requirements:

If you are Commerce personnel, please contact the Office of Security Training Program POC at OSY-PPCD@doc.gov

If you are not Commerce personnel, please visit the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) for answers and contact information: https://www.state.gov/contact-us-foreign-service-institute/