Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. You don’t need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this.
Travel under the Visa Waiver Programme is restricted to travellers with passports that include certain security features.
Visa Waiver Programme (VWP)
The US Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) allows most British Citizen passport holders to visit the US for up to 90 days. The types of journey that are permissible under the VWP include tourism, certain types of business visit and transit to another country. If you have a British passport that describes your nationality as something other than ‘British Citizen’ you will need to get a visa.
All those travelling under the Visa Waiver Programme arriving by air or sea should provide details online at least 72 hours before travel. This is known as an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation or ESTA. If you don’t have an ESTA you’ll be refused travel to the USA. For more information, and to apply online, visit the official ESTA website.
Some unauthorised websites charge for information about ESTA and for submitting applications. These websites are not endorsed by or associated with the United States Government. Be wary of such sites and businesses, particularly those that seek additional fees for other services.
Getting an ESTA is a separate process to providing your airline with advance passenger information (details of your passport, country of residence, address of your first night’s accommodation in the US etc).
When you arrive you will need to be able to show that you have enough funds available to support yourself during your stay, even if you’re staying with family and friends. See the Customs and Border Protection website for further advice.
If you’re arriving in the USA by land from either Canada or Mexico and you qualify for entry to the USA under the VWP, you don’t need to complete an ESTA.
US Customs and Border Protection now gather travellers’ arrival/departure information electronically. Travelers who need the information from their Form I-94 admission record to verify immigration status and other admission information are encouraged to get their I-94 Number when entering the US. There may be a processing fee for this.
While in the US under the VWP, if you travel to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean you can usually re-enter the US using the ESTA and admission stamp you were issued when you first arrived in the US, although the time you spend out of the US is included in the 90 days allotted for your US visit. Make sure you’re clear about the length of time the immigration officer has authorised you to remain in the US if you re-enter the country under the same ESTA.
The VWP is only intended to be used for occasional, short visits to the US. If the US immigration officer thinks you’re trying to ‘reset’ the clock by making a short trip out of the US and re-entering for another 90-day period, you can be denied entry.
More details on the VWP and other aspects of US immigration are available at the following websites:
- US Embassy in London
- Department of Homeland Security
- US Department of State
- US Customs and Border Protection
If you have any doubts about whether you’re eligible to enter the US under the VWP (eg if you have a criminal record or have been arrested even if it did not result in a conviction), or about visa matters generally, contact the US Embassy in London before you travel.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETD) are not valid for entry into the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). If you’re planning to enter the US using a UK Emergency Travel Document you must apply for a US visa before you travel.
The US Department of State has removed HIV Infection from the list of communicable diseases of public health significance. This means that HIV infection is no longer a bar to entering the US, including under the Visa Waiver Program.
Bringing medicines into the US
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) imposes restrictions and prohibitions on the import of certain prescription drugs into the US. The US Department for Homeland Security website contains further information and advice on bringing pharmaceuticals and controlled substances into the US. If you have any questions about whether you can bring a specific pharmaceutical into the United States, contact the FDA, Division of Import Operations and Policy, on 1-888-463-6332.
Travelling with children
If a child (under the age of 18) is traveling with only one parent or someone who is not a parent or legal guardian, you may be asked to provide certain documents at the border. For further information, see the website of the US Customs and Border Protection.