Health & Travel Advice
It is your responsibility to make sure you have all the travel documents you need, such as passports, visas and inoculation certificates. If you do not have the right documentation you could be denied boarding the plane – and you may not be entitled to a refund or travel on a future flight. If you manage to board the plane, you may be refused entry into the Country when you arrive at your destination and could be flown straight back. If so, you will not be entitled to a refund. Some Countries also specify that you have a minimum period of validity left on your passport.
Visiting &/or transiting the United States of America including Hawaiian Islands
Passports must be valid for the intended length of stay in the USA, i.e. beyond the pre-booked return date. The UK and US have an agreement that allows travellers from one country to the other to enter using a passport of limited validity. However, passengers are strongly advised to renew their passports before travelling if it has six months validity or less.
Visa Waiver Program & ESTA (Electronic System For Travel Authorisation)
Visitors from the UK may enter the USA via the Visa Waiver Program, provided they have a machine-readable passport (issued up to 26 October 2006) or a machine-readable passport with integrated circuit chip (passports issued after 26 October 2006) & are staying no longer than 90 days for travel and tourism purpose, hold fully paid onward travel and have sufficient funds to maintain yourself during your stay.
Mandatory ESTA Approval
For travel on or after 12 January 2009, passengers intending to enter the USA under the Visa Waiver Program will be required to obtain authorisation through ESTA (Electronic System For Travel Authorization) prior to boarding a US-bound aircraft – each person, regardless of age, is required to obtain independent ESTA approval. ESTA approval is NOT a visa & does NOT guarantee admission to the USA – it is simply an approval for a traveller to board a US-bound aircraft & upon arrival, immigration is subject to normal terms & conditions.
Applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel & should be made online at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/. The application process may take up to 15-20 minutes & authorisation is normally granted immediately, but may take up to 72 hours. Once granted, authorisation is valid for 2 years or until the expiry of the passport (whichever is first). It is valid for multiple entries into the USA although if the destination address or itinerary is different from that submitted in the ESTA approval, this information may be easily updated via the ESTA website. A current fee of USD 14.00 applies to each applicant that can be paid by credit card. ESTA approval is not a guarantee of admissibility into the USA – it only authorises a passenger to board a flight to the USA. Failure to obtain travel authorisation via ESTA prior to departure may result in denied boarding of aircraft or denied entry into the USA.
Visas are required by passengers who do not have suitable machine readable passports, are not British Citizens, do not qualify for entry using the Visa Waiver Program or whose ESTA Approval has not been granted. Visa and security requirements are subject to frequent and sudden change. It is therefore important that passengers check the US Embassy’s public information regularly and well in advance of their planned travel date. Travellers requiring specific information or clarification are advised to call the US Embassy’s Live Operator Information Service 09055 444546 (calls charged at £1.30 per minute) or visit www.usembassy.org.uk