Discover the US of A
No one can say they’re not thorough at US border control. But it’s nothing to worry about. There are just a few things you need to get sorted before you step foot on American soil.This is our guide to the specific requirements for travelling to the United States.
What do you need to go overseas?
When you book your flights to the US
When you book your flight to the USA, you’ll need to give your airline some details that are required by the US authorities. This is known as Advance Passenger Information and Secure Flight Passenger Data. You can provide it later, but you won’t get your tickets or be allowed on your flight until you’ve given this information.
The US authorities use these details to screen passenger information against government watch lists.
You’ll need to give the following details for you and anyone else you’re travelling with:
- Your full name as it appears on your passport
- Date of birth
- Passport number
- Country your passport was issued in
- The country you live in
- The address you’ll be staying at in the USA
- Alien registration number, if you have one
- Redress number, if you have one
Before you go
If you don’t need a visa
If you don’t need a visa, you’ll have to apply for electronic authorisation, known as ESTA (this stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorisation). Anyone who plans to visit the USA without a visa, including children of all ages, needs ESTA approval. You won’t be able to get on the plane without it.
You can apply at the US Department of Security’s ESTA website whenever you’re ready, but not less than 72 hours before your flight.
It won’t take long, but you do have to pay a small fee of US$14.You’ll find out whether you’ve been approved right away. Once you’ve got it, ESTA authorisation is valid for two years or until your passport expires. You can find out more on the ESTA website.
If you do need a visa
If you’re required to get a visa for your travel to the USA, or you already have one, you don’t need to apply for ESTA authorisation. And if your ESTA application isn’t approved, you’ll need to get yourself a visa. That’s why it’s a good idea to make your application early rather than leave it to the last minute!
You can get a visa from a US embassy or consulate in Australia before you travel. Make sure you give them as much time as possible to process your application.
When you get to the US
When you land in the US, you’ll have to get your fingerprints scanned and have a digital photo taken at border control. After that, you can take a deep breath and enjoy your holiday (or at least sleep off that jetlag).