Foreign travel advice

USA

Summary

Hurricane Maria is developing in the eastern Caribbean. It is expected to bring hazardous sea and weather conditions to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands from 19 September 2017. Hurricane warnings are in place. You should follow the advice of the local authorities, including any evacuation orders. You can monitor updates from the US National Hurricane Center as the hurricane approaches. The websites of local authorities in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands contain updates on the hurricane and emergency contact numbers, though communications may be interrupted as weather conditions deteriorate. Our ability to assist British nationals in the immediate aftermath of hurricanes may be affected by conditions on the ground.

The US Virgin Islands were severely impacted by Hurricane Irma and are still recovering. Curfews remain in place, and the Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas is currently only receiving emergency relief supplies. The Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix is open and fully operational, and ports have re-opened. See the local authority website for more information on the US Virgin Islands.

Recovery from the impact of Hurricane Irma also continues in Puerto Rico and affected states in the south-east of the country. A number of local evacuation orders in Florida have now been lifted. But across the United States it is important that you continue to follow the advice of the local authorities and abide by any curfew warnings or evacuation orders still in place. The post-storm situation remains dangerous, with extreme flooding, power outages and limited communications. Large parts of Florida remain without power and access to fuel may be difficult. Be aware that historically more accidents occur post-storm than during it. The storm is not the only hazard; many electric lines will be down and some buildings may not be structurally sound. All airports in Florida have now reopened to commercial aircraft. Before travelling to the airport, you should check with your airline for the latest information on flight departures and availability. Further information may also be available on the airport’s website or social media accounts.

A number of Caribbean islands have been affected by Hurricane Irma and may be affected by Hurricane Maria. If you are considering travelling to the Caribbean, please consult the travel advice for the relevant islands before you start your journey.

If you’re planning to travel to or within any affected areas, you should be aware that the post-storm situation may limit our ability to provide physical assistance. You should consider your travel plans very carefully and check local advice. Keep in touch with your airline or tour operator as appropriate. You should monitor the websites of FEMA, Florida Disaster, Georgia Emergency Management, South Carolina Emergency Management and North Carolina Emergency Management, as well as the websites of local authorities in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. See Natural Disasters

In March 2017, the US government implemented additional security measures relating to carriage of electronic items on flights departing to the US from a number of countries in the Middle East and North Africa region.

On 28 June 2017, the US Department of Homeland Security announced that it would also begin implementing separate enhanced security screening procedures for all commercial flights to the US.

If you need more information about how either of these measures may affect your particular flight, contact your airline or travel company.

You’ll need prior authorisation to enter the United States using a British passport, either through a visa, a Permanent Resident Card, or the Visa Waiver Programme. Restrictions apply depending on the type of passport you hold, your nationality, criminal history, and countries you may have recently visited. Visa and other entry conditions can change at short notice. It’s your responsibility to know and understand the rules of entry before you travel. See Entry Requirements

On 26 June 2017, a US Supreme Court ruling partly reintroduced temporary immigration measures for nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. For the latest information check the websites of the US State Department and the Department of Homeland Security. British passport holders aren’t affected by these measures.

However, you must apply for a visa to enter the US if you’ve travelled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen on or after 1 March 2011 (with some exceptions) or are also a national of Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria. See Entry Requirements

Around 3.8 million British nationals visit the United States every year. Most visits are trouble free. Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in the USA. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. You should monitor media reports and remain vigilant at all times. See Terrorism

UK health authorities have classified the United States as having a risk of Zika virus transmission in Florida, Texas (Cameron County only), Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. For more information and advice, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website: for travel to Florida and Texas (Cameron County) - for travel to Puerto Rico - for travel to US Virgin Islands.

You should be alert to the dangers of car and street crime. See Safety and Security

Snow storms during winter can cause delays and cancellations throughout airports in the USA. See Natural disasters

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.