ESTA

The United States welcomes visitors from around the world.  We want people to visit and do business in the United States.

Effective April 1, 2016, UK citizens must have an electronic passport (e-passport) to be eligible for visa-free travel to the United States.  Please take a moment to ensure you have an e-passport before planning your trip.

 

What is an e-passport?

E-passports contain an electronic chip which holds the same information that is printed on the passport’s data page: the holder’s name, date of birth, a biometric identifier, and other biographic information.  The United States, the UK, and all countries eligible for visa-free travel to the U.S. issue e-passports with security features to prevent the unauthorized reading or “skimming” of data stored on the e-Passport chip.  Among their many benefits, e-Passports help to securely identify the traveller, provide protection against identity theft, and protect privacy.  The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 specified April 1, 2016, as the date by which all VWP travellers to the U.S. must have an e-passport.  Please note that this change only affects citizens of VWP countries who plan to travel visa-free, with an approved authorization from the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) system.

What do I do if I don’t have an e-passport?

If you have one of the older, non-electronic passports, and still wish to travel visa-free, you will need to apply for a new e-passport before your next visa-free trip to the United States. Once you have received your new e-passport, you may apply for a new ESTA.

Recent changes to the Program do not prevent travel.  If you are affected by the changes you should apply for a visa.  You may apply now, or anytime, even if you don’t have immediate travel plans.

Travel under the Visa Waiver Program and ESTA

For information on traveling under the Visa Waiver Program and ESTA please see our Tourism & Visitor page and our Frequently Asked Questions on ESTA.

If you have a valid ESTA,  you may check the status of your ESTA at any time at esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta

Applying for a Visa

Information on applying for a visa, including information for those who have immediate, business, or humanitarian travel to the United States, is available by clicking here.