If you are traveling anywhere outside of the US, overseas, to Canada, the Caribbean, or Mexico, you now need a passport to board an international flight and to enter any country.
- A US passport is your key to international travel. When presented abroad, it is a request to foreign governments to permit you to travel or temporarily reside in their territories and access all lawful, local aid, and protection. It allows you access to US Consular services and assistance while abroad. Most importantly, it allows you to re-enter the United States upon your return home.
- The Department of State’s Passport Services Directorate issues US passports to traveling Americans. The integrity of the US passport is proof of US citizenship at home and around the world.
Before traveling to the United States, each citizen of a foreign country must generally obtain a “non-immigrant visa” for temporary stay or an “immigrant visa” for permanent residence. The type of visa you will need is based on the purpose of your travel.
- All foreign nationals or aliens entering the United States are generally required to present a passport and valid visa issued by a US Consular Official, unless they are a citizen of a country eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), or are a lawful permanent resident of the US, or a citizen of Canada.
- The Visa Waiver Program allows foreign nationals from designated countries to be admitted to the US under limited conditions and for a limited time without obtaining a visa.
- There are currently 36 countries participating in the VWP that includes—Andorra; Australia; Austria; Belgium; Brunei; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Iceland; Ireland; Italy; Japan; Latvia; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Malta; Monaco; the Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Portugal; San Marino, Singapore; Slovakia; Slovenia; South Korea; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; and the United Kingdom.
- The United States Government now requires all foreign travelers to hold specific travel documents to enter the United States. If you are a national of a Visa Waiver country, you may be able to submit an online request at www.VisaCenter.com for travel authorization via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). This allows visitors from participating countries to get speedy approval for travel to the United States for business or pleasure for 90 days or less.