So you fancy taking in the awesome skyline and shows of New York, surfing and sunning in California, or having a wild night out in Vegas? Your trip to the US should be just as enjoyable and memorable as you have dreamt it would be. However, it could be ruined if you do not have the correct travel documents. If you do not want to be turned away before boarding the plane, or (worse!) made to turn around as soon as you arrive and go back home, make sure you have all the relevant travel documents well in advance of your trip.
Passport and Visa Waiver
Firstly, make sure you have a valid passport. In particular, check that your passport is in date and will not expire for the duration of your trip. For the majority of British citizens, travel to the US is covered by what is known as the Visa Waiver Programme. This enables British citizens to travel to the US and stay there for up to 90 days without needing to apply for a visa. In order to apply to visit the US under this programme, make sure you visit the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation’s internet site as soon as possible, (ideally at least week before you travel) to get the travel documents you need to participate in this programme. The US is strict about this issue regarding travel documents: if you cannot show evidence that you are covered by the Visa Waiver Programme, you will not be able to enter the US.
What to do if you do not qualify for the Visa Waiver
If your application to participate in the Visa Waiver Programme is denied, or if you wish to stay in the US for longer than the period stipulated by the waiver, then it is important to apply for a Visa. The travel documents required here can be acquired from the US embassy in Britain. Again, make sure that you apply for this documentation as soon as possible and not more than three days before you plan to travel to the US.
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