All passengers travelling to the US on the Visa Waiver / ESTA programme from 1 April 2016 must have an e-Passport which contains an electronic chip.
You should see a symbol on the front if you have an e-Passport.
If you don't have one you will not be permitted to travel.
To make your visit to the United States, you must either travel under the country’s Visa Waiver programme (with an ‘ESTA’), or have a US visa (or be a US citizen, of course).
An ESTA allows you to stay in the US under the Visa Waiver programme for up to 90 days and allows travel to Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean.
An ESTA is valid for two years, (or less if your passport expires in that time).
If you're from one of the following countries you can travel under this programme unless
If this applies to you you'll still be able to apply for a visa using the regular immigration process via the US embassies or consulates (contact details below), but you'll no longer be able to enter the US under the Visa Waiver Programme (ESTA).
If you need a U.S. visa for urgent business, medical, or humanitarian travel to the United States, the U.S. embassies and consulates will be on hand to process applications on an expedited basis.
If you already hold an Electronic System for Travel Authorizations (ESTA) and you previously indicated that you have dual nationality with one of the four countries listed above on your ESTA application, your ESTA will no longer be valid.
|Austria||Ireland||Republic of Korea|
|Germany||The Netherlands||United Kingdom|
If you don’t come from one of these countries, you’ll need to apply for a visa via the US Embassy.
To obtain your ESTA:
Useful information about your ESTA application:
Applications are usually instantaneous - For those applications which are not immediately approved, travellers are required to continue to log in to the Government website to check for ESTA application approval.
Once an application is submitted and processed successfully, an email confirmation will not be generated. We'd advise you to print the confirmation web page, or jot down your application number for safe keeping and future reference.
You need to make sure your passport is valid for travel when you apply for your ESTA. If you apply for an ESTA when your passport has expired, or is about to expire, you may not receive notification from the Government that travel cannot be permitted.
For more information about your ESTA, read the US Gov's dedicated FAQs (opens in a new window).
By joining the Global Entry scheme, the U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) programme, UK citizens will be able to speed through U.S passport control with the minimum of fuss.
This scheme allows expedited clearance for pre-approved British citizens arriving in the United States.
Benefits of the Global Entry program include:
The membership lasts for five years and all applicants will undergo thorough background checks (at a non-refundable cost of GBP 42 payable to the UK government), including a face to face interview and online enrolment with the U.S CBP (at a non-refundable cost of USD 100).
You must be a British citizen to use this service.
A change in US government policy now means that anyone born in the United States is considered to be a US citizen. As a result, if you were born in the US but don’t hold a US passport, you’ll need a 'loss of nationality letter' to enter the country.
Please note that we are not able to carry passengers in these circumstances unless they have this letter, which can be obtained from the US embassy.
Get personalised travel information for your destination with our handy tool.