Passport, Visa and other U.S. Customs Information

Even though international travelers are subject to tougher security measures than in previous years, as long as you know what documentation is required, you shouldn't have any trouble going through U.S. Customs.

The main requirements to enter the United States are a valid passport and a visa. This holds true for all foreign visitors coming into the country by air, sea or land.

The Visa Waiver Program

In the interest of promoting friendship, tourism and cooperation, the U.S. State Department created the "Visa Waiver Program" (VWP) with thirty-six nations participating. (See listing below.)


Visa Waiver Program - Participating Countries

 Andorra  Australia Austria
Belgium Brunei Czech Republic
Denmark Estonia Finland
France Germany Greece
Hungary Iceland Ireland
Italy Japan Latvia
Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxemburg
Malta Monaco The Netherlands
New Zealand Norway Portugal
San Marino Singapore Slovakia
Slovenia South Korea Spain
Sweden Switzerland Taiwan
United Kingdom    

If you are a national of one of the countries listed, you can skip the visa requirement and instead apply online to "The Electronic System for Travel Authorization" (ESTA). To complete the application, click here.

It is very important that you acquaint yourself with all the requirements for obtaining a waived visa exemption. Please click here for more information.

When a Visa is Required

If you are traveling to the United States and your country of origin is not one of the participating members of the VWP, you will need to apply for a non-immigrant visa. You will be required to complete a new “DS-160” form and will need to visit the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country for an interview.

The new DS-160 can be accessed online here.
For up-to-the minute visa information at the U.S. State Department’s website click here.
To view a listing of all United States Embassies and Consulates in the world, click here.

Other Requirements

Before you land in the United States, you will be provided with either a white Form I-94W (Arrival/Departure Record), or a green Form I-94W (Nonimmigrant Visa Waiver Arrival/Departure Form). You will also need to complete Customs Declaration Form 6059B.

These forms merely ask basic information about you, where you will be staying in the United States during your visit and what, if anything, you have to declare.

What Else to Expect

Once you have arrived in the country, you will be shown to the inspection area where an immigration officer will go over your documents, determine why you are visiting the United States, and determine how long you will be allowed to stay. This usually takes less than one minute. If all is in order, the officer will stamp your passport and will staple the completed Form I-94W to your passport. You will collect your baggage and then proceed through Customs.

For complete details on what to expect upon arrival to the United States, click here.