Do I need a visa for the United States?

It depends on where you’re from. Many countries operate under the United States Visa Waiver Program, meaning a visa isn’t required for stays of up to 90 days for travel purposes. There are 40 participating countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Spain.

If you're eligible for the Visa Waiver Program, you must obtain a letter of authorisation before you travel to the States. This can be obtained by submitting an application through the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA). It takes 20 minutes to apply.

If you’re a national from a non-participating country of the Visa Waiver Program, you must apply for a non-immigrant visa. Please see the Department of State website for more information.

If you have travelled to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on or after 1 March 2011, you are ineligible and must apply for a non-immigrant visa instead.

People from a participating country who are also citizens of Cuba, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan must also apply for a non-immigrant visa.

ESTA requirements

To apply for an ESTA you will need to provide a range of information including:

  • Valid, machine-readable passport (from a Visa Waiver Program country)
  • Valid email address and contact number
  • Home address
  • Emergency contact number and email address

Visit the Department State website for a full list of documents required

ESTA registration applications or renewal fees must be paid by credit card, debit card PayPal.

You should apply for your visa waiver authorisation at least two weeks before travel to account for potential delays.

Once your ESTA has been approved, it’s valid for two years or until your current passport expires.

It’s important to note that if there are any discrepancies between the name on your ESTA, your passport, your tickets and even your frequent flyer membership, you may be detained at Immigration and subject to a secondary inspection which could take a few hours – not a fun way to start your trip!

If you have recently changed your name, please check that your details have been updated on all identity documents.

The page is for general information only and may be subject to change. It is your responsibility to obtain relevant visa and travel information required for entry, departure and travel to each country or region you visit on your trip. You should confirm these with the relevant embassies and/or consulates. 

Last updated: 6 March 2024 

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