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Under the US Visa Waiver Program, British citizens are not required to obtain visas in order to travel to and stay in the United States for a maximum of 90 days for touristic and certain types of business purposes. The 90-day stay under the VWP is non-extendable. Those described on the photo page of their British passports as being a “British Subject”, “British National (Overseas)”, “British Overseas Territories Citizen”, “British Dependent Territories Citizen”, “British Protected Person” or “British Overseas Citizen” are not qualified to enter the United States under the VWP and must obtain visas in advance of travel plans.
Additionally, British citizens’ passports do not need to have 6 months’ validity beyond the duration of stay in the US. They only need to ensure that their British passports are valid for the duration of their stay. However, to enter under the VWP, their passports must contain a machine-readable zone (MRZ). The new style passports containing a biometric chip and an MRZ are the only types of passports accepted for the VWP. Those whose passports do not contain an MRZ will need to apply for visas.
It is important to note that the US requires all those traveling under the VWP to provide details online at least 72 hours prior to travel, which is known as the Electronic Travel System Authorization (ESTA). ESTA is valid for a period of 2 years, or for the validity of the traveler’s passport, whichever is shorter. There is a US$14 charge for an ESTA which must be paid by credit card.
The ESTA is an automated system which is used to determine the eligibility of those intending to travel to the US under the VWP. It does not, however, guarantee that the traveler will be admitted to the US port of entry. The Customs Border officials reserve the right to determine admissibility of anyone intending to visit the US.
Those eligible to travel to the US under the VWP must apply for authorization through the ESTA Website using the following process:
- Complete the application
- Submit the application
- Record the Application number
- Make the payment
- View/Track the application status
Below are requirements for those who are required to apply for visas before traveling to the United States.
General Requirements – B1 and B2 Visa (Business Visitors and Tourist/Personal Travel Visitor):
- Complete the online DS-160 (nonimmigrant visa application).
- Print out of the confirmation page of the DS-160.
- Print out the Nonimmigrant Visa Interview Confirmation letter (only for applicants applying in person).
- Print out of the receipt for the MRV application fee (only if applicable).
- Valid UK passport.
- Photograph meeting the State Department specifications, if the applicant has been unsuccessful in uploading one to the DS-160. Those who were successfully able to upload their photograph but does not meet the State Department specifications risk non-acceptance of their applications and will be asked to return at a later date with a new photograph.
- Evidence of intended business activities in the United States.
- Proof of sufficient funds to cover all expenses while in the United States.
- Evidence of residence abroad to which the applicant intends to return at the end of their stay in the United States (evidence of family, profession, property, employment or other ties and commitments to some country other than the United States that would be enough cause for the applicant to return at the end of their visit).
- Additional documents for those:
- Who have been arrested and/or have a criminal conviction
- Who have a medical ineligibility
- Who have been denied entry into or have been deported from the United States
- Who are professionals and academics in the areas of science and technology
- Who are nationals of northern Cyprus
- Who are applying for a visa through the courier service
- Applicants aged 14 to 79 are required to apply in person through a prearranged appointment.
- In some cases, those under the age of 14 and those aged 80 are exempt from appearing in person and may submit their applications through the courier service.
- Follow the link How To Apply for further information on applying for a visa at the US Embassy in London and at the US Consulate General in Belfast.
The information gathered here are non-exhaustive and are subject to change at any time. Travelers from the UK are advised to obtain the most current information on the visa, entry and exit requirements for the United States in advance.
Embassy of the United States of America
24 Grosvenor Square
Mailing Address: 24 Grosvenor Square, London, W1A 1AE, United Kingdom
Telephone: (020) 7499-9000
U.S. Consulate General
223 Stranmillis Road
Telephone: (028) 9038-6100
Fax: (028) 9068-2219