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Passport and Visa Requirements

When travelling to the USA there are some very important things that you must ensure you have in place prior to your departure.

Check your Passport

All British citizens must have a valid 10 year machine readable British Passport. A machine readable passport has the holder's details e.g. name, date of birth, nationality etc contained in two lines of text at the base of the photograph page. A machine can read this information. The UK have been issuing machine readable passports since 1988, however British passports that have been issued overseas may not be machine readable. If you are unsure it is always best to double check with your local passport office.

Following a review of security procedures at all airports in the USA, the US Immigration Department has updated its policy on passengers entering the United States using the current Visa Waiver Programme, of which the UK is a participant. All British passport holders will only be permitted to enter the United States if they hold a machine readable passport. The majority of 'new style' red British passports are machine readable, although those issued outside the UK or those not in the new style may not be. Should your passport not be machine readable it will be necessary to either obtain a new passport or to obtain a US visa.

Do you need a VISA for Florida?

To obtain an electronic authorisation simply log onto the ESTA Web site at and complete an on-line application form. Applications must be submitted prior to travel and the US Department of Homeland Security recommends that applications be submitted no less than 72 hours prior to travel. However, please note: Any travelers who are not authorised to travel to the USA using this system must obtain a nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate before traveling to the USA and this should be done as soon as possible as applying for a US visa is/can be a very lengthy process.

All passengers entering the USA on the Visa Waiver Programme will be required to hold a machine readable passport (the newer red passports). This also includes passengers who only intend to transit the USA en route to another country.

If you are traveling with children or infants they will also be required to have a machine readable passport and have an approved ESTA Visa waiver in place.

If your flight operates via Canada

Starting March 15, 2016, visa-exempt foreign nationals who fly to or transit through Canada will need an

Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). Exceptions include U.S. citizens and foreign nationals with a valid visa.

However, acceptable travel documents and identification must be presented at the border.

Please visit for more information and to apply for an eTA.

Passport requirements

On 18th December 2015 the US Congress passed a bill updating the requirements for travel on the Visa Waiver

Program. Under the new rules, with effect from 1 April 2016 all travellers wishing to enter the US under the

Visa Waiver Program will need to hold a passport with an integrated chip (an ePassport). British passports

issued since October 2006 are ePassports and carry the internationally recognised symbol on the cover.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you and your party have the correct passport and visa requirements in place, failure to have these documents can result in boarding being denied. If you are in any doubt it is always best to double check with the relevant authorities.

More answers about your Florida holiday are available in the Florida FAQ.


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