Foreign travel advice

USA

Important COVID-19 travel guidance

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel. Travel to some countries and territories is currently exempted.

This advice is being kept under constant review. Travel disruption is still possible and national control measures may be brought in with little notice, so check our travel guidance.

Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Entry to USA

Since 16 March, it is not possible for many British nationals to enter the USA if they have been in the UK, Ireland, Schengen zone, Iran, Brazil, or China within the previous 14 days.

US citizens and permanent residents of the USA, certain specified close family members and certain other limited categories of visas holders (such as UN staff and diplomats) are exempt. They will still be able to enter the USA, subject to normal entry requirements.

Entry for Green card and visa holders

New and renewed Green Cards (a Permanent Resident Card) are not currently being issued until at least 31 December 2020. However, existing Green Cards remain valid.

New and renewed H1-B, H2-B, J and L visas are not currently being issued until at least 31 December 2020. There are some exemptions to certain J visa categories. However, existing visas in these categories remain valid. Someone who holds a visa in these categories, who was not in the USA at the time of the Presidential proclamation, can enter the country as long as their visa is valid. There will be no renewals of these visas or issuances of new visas in the listed categories.

Our understanding is that British nationals currently in the USA on one of these visas can depart and enter as long as their visa is valid – subject to other rules.

However, you cannot enter or transit the USA if you have been in the UK, Ireland, Schengen zone, Iran, Brazil, or China within the previous 14 days. US citizens and permanent residents of the USA, certain specified close family members and certain other limited categories of visa holders (such as UN staff and diplomats) are exempt. They will still be able to enter the USA, subject to normal entry requirements.

As of 27 July 2020, the US Embassy in London (and, as of 3 August 2020, the US Consulate General in Belfast) are resuming certain immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services, including: immigrant visas for spouses and children of US citizens; and F-1 and M-1 student visa categories. Students travelling from the UK (and the Schengen Area and Ireland) with valid F-1 and M-1 visas, do not need to seek a national interest exception to travel.

For those seeking to travel under other visa categories, British nationals can contact the US Embassy to ascertain if they might qualify for an economic interest, humanitarian, or other exception. However, the criteria for these exceptions are very strict.

Further information is available on the US Embassy’s website.

Quarantine requirements

Those allowed entry to most parts of the USA are advised by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to ‘stay at home’ as much as possible for 14 days following arrival. Those arriving into the District of Columbia on non-essential international travel, and from certain high-risk states, are required to self-isolate on arrival for 14 days. This advisory and the full list of currently affected states is available on the CDC website here. You should check the list frequently as it is likely to change, sometimes daily, as rates of COVID-19 transmission increase or decrease.

Transiting USA

You cannot enter or transit the USA if you have been in the UK, Ireland, Schengen zone, Iran, Brazil, or China within the previous 14 days. For further information, please check the advice from US Customs and Border Protection. US citizens and permanent residents of the USA, certain specified close family members and certain other limited categories of visa holders (such as UN staff and diplomats) are exempt. They will still be able to enter the USA, subject to normal entry requirements.

Further Presidential proclamations may follow, which could place further restrictions on British nationals seeking to travel to/from the USA.

For further information please refer to the US Government’s travel page.

Regular entry requirements

Passport validity

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.

Global entry

The US Customs and Border Protection programme Global Entry gets pre-approved travellers through border control faster at some US airports. If you’re a British citizen you can now register to get a UK background check on GOV.UK. If you pass the background checks, you’ll be invited to apply for Global Entry.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) aren’t valid for entry into the USA or transit through the USA on an ESTA. If you’re planning to enter or transit through the US using an ETD, you must apply for a visa from the nearest US embassy or consulate before you travel, which may take a number of days, or hold a valid lawful permanent resident card (often referred to as a ‘green card’), which you must have with you on arrival.

UK ETDs issued in the USA are valid for exit from the USA.

Bringing medicines into the USA

There are restrictions and prohibitions on the import of certain prescription drugs into the US. The US Department of Homeland Security website contains further information and advice on bringing medicines into the US.

Travelling with children

If a child (under the age of 18) is travelling with only one parent or someone who isn’t a parent or legal guardian, you may be asked to provide certain documents at the border. For further information, see the US Customs and Border Protection website.

Travelling to the USA from Cuba

It’s possible to travel to the USA after you’ve been to Cuba. However, you may wish to take supporting documents about the purpose of your trip to Cuba in case you’re questioned by US immigration officials at the port of entry on arrival in the USA. If you have any further questions or concerns, contact the nearest US Embassy or Consulate.