The Documents Needed to Travel to the USA If You’re a British Na - TV To Talk About | The Tulsa CW

The Documents Needed to Travel to the USA If You’re a British National


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Around 75 million people travel to the United States every year. And of this 75 million, 4.5 million of them are British citizens.

But immigration laws in the US are tighter than ever. And failing to have the right documentation with you could mean border control denies you entry. If this happens, you will have to get on a return flight back to the UK and pay the hefty fare.

So what are the documents needed to travel to the USA from Britain? Knowing these could ensure that your entry into the US is a smooth one.

Read on to find out more!

The Documents Needed to Travel to the USA from Britain

Let’s take a look at the basics that you’ll need.

Obviously, anyone traveling internationally needs a valid passport. This could be a standard passport or it might be a temporary one if you’re in a rush. Your passport is not valid if:

  • It’s out of date.
  • It’s water damaged.
  • Ink has been spilled on it.
  • There are holes in it (for example from hole punches.)
  • The ID chip is showing through the back of the passport.
  • Pages have been removed or are not fully attached.
  • The bio-data page is discolored.
  • You cannot read the personal details properly.
  • The lamination on the photo page lifts up to or over the edge of the photograph.

If your passport is valid and is machine-readable or features an E-chip then you may not have to get a visa. But you will need an ESTA.

If you have an older passport then you will need to apply for a separate visa in order to enter the country.

Do You Need a Visa to Enter the US?

Whether or not you need to apply for a visa depends on a few things.

The reason for your visit will affect whether or not you need to apply for a visa. If you’re entering the US to work or study you will need the appropriate visa. And there are a lot of different types!

For example, members of the government require a type-A visa. Meanwhile, anyone who works in the media or as a journalist travels on an I visa. In order to enter the US, you need to make sure you’ve got the correct type of visa.

However, if you’re visiting for less than 90 days then you might not need to apply. This is because the UK is part of the Visa Waiver Program. This means that nationals from certain countries can travel to the USA without a visa.

However, you can only do this if you have an E-chip passport. If you don’t have a new passport then you will need to apply for a separate visa altogether.

There are also certain requirements you must meet to qualify for the Visa Waiver Program or VWP.

US Entry Requirements for the Visa Waiver Program

Only some people qualify for the VWP. There are 38 countries in total on the Visa Waiver Program’s list. However, not everyone from the UK will be able to enter using it.

If you have a criminal history then this can stop you from qualifying. The US gives a pass on minor offenses. But anything involving drugs or violent crime will put a red flag against your name.

You do have have to have been convicted of a crime either. Arrests can act against you as well as convictions.

If you have entered the US illegally in the past you also won’t be allowed to use the VWP. Denial of entry or deportation can also count against you. So whenever you visit the US make sure you leave before your visa runs out.

People with serious infectious diseases also can’t use the VWP. If you are traveling to the US for treatment then you need to apply for a medical visa. This is the B-2 visa.

Connections to certain countries might stop you from using the Visa Waiver Program. Anyone who holds dual nationality with any of the following countries will need to apply for a separate visa:

  • Iran
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Iraq

In addition to this, anyone who has visited these countries since March 2011 needs a separate visa. You’ll also need one if you’ve been to Libya, Somalia or Yemen during this time period.

Provided you don’t fall into any of the above categories though you can enter the US using the VWP. In that case, all you need is an ESTA and you’re good to go!

What is an ESTA?

An ESTA or Electronic System for Travel Authorization confirms that you are eligible for VWP travel.

It is cheaper and often easier to get your hands on than a visa. But nevertheless, you will have to have it in place before you travel. You can apply for an ESTA if:

  • You have the correct type of passport.
  • You are visiting the US for 90 days or less.
  • You are traveling to the US by plane or by boat.
  • You are visiting the country to travel, on business or in transit to another country.
  • The country you’re traveling from is on the VWP list.

Anyone entering the US needs an ESTA, including children. In order to apply, you will need to know your exact travel plans. So have these on hand when you’re applying.

If border control approves your ESTA then it will be valid for two years from the start date.

What If You’re Not a British Citizen?

If you are a national of another country traveling from the UK, then the United States travel requirements may be different. It’s important to check these well in advance for flying.

Nationals from other countries on the Visa Waiver Program’s list may also be able to apply for an ESTA. This list includes Australia, Italy, Singapore, and Japan. But there are 38 countries in total so make sure to check it out!

If you are not a national of one of these countries then you’ll need to apply for a regular visa. As with UK citizens, the type of visa you need will depend on the type of trip you’re going on. Just remember to leave plenty of time for your application to be processed!

The Bottom Line

Once you’ve got these documents needed to travel to the USA you’re ready for your trip! So pack your bags, get yourself to the airport and enjoy the flight.

For more news and travel tips from the USA, keep scrolling!

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