US - Geting In -

Citizens of the 27 countries within the Visa Waiver Program (see below), as well as Canadians, Mexicans living in the border and Bermudans, do not require an advance visa for entry into the United States, although other conditions may apply: most notably, a machine-readable passport will be required, and Mexicans living in the border must also apply for a reusable Border Crossing Card. New rules regarding biometric information in passports will take effect October 26, 2005, unless extended again.

Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom

For the rest of the world (including Mexicans NOT living in the border) the visa application process is onerous, expensive, and slow. The application fee is US$100 (not refundable even if your application is rejected), face-to-face interviews at the nearest US embassy or consulate are required for many nationalities, and waits for interview slots and visa processing can add up to several months. The best advice for travelers today, from any country, is not to assume, but to check on documentation requirements with the United States State Department or with your nearest United States consulate. In addition, if coming to the country by car, be sure to have documents including car insurance, rental agreements, drivers license, etc., before trying to enter the US, as the process has become more strict in the last few years. Travelers from other continents may not bring meat or raw fruit or vegetables into the USA, but may bring cooked nonmeats, such as bread. See APHIS for details.

By plane

Most visitors from outside Canada and Mexico arrive in the United States by plane. While even medium sized inland cities such as, for example, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, have an international airport there are limited flights to most of these airports and most travelers find themselves entering the US at one of the major entry points along the coasts. The three primary entry points to the country are:

  From the east New York city, Atlanta, Boston, Baltimore/Washington, DC and Miami are the primary entry points from Europe and other transatlantic points of departure.

  From the west Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, California are the primary entry points for travelers from Asia and other transpacific points of departure.

  From the south Miami, Florida is the primary entry point from Latin America, primarily South America. Also, Dallas and Houston are major international waypoints.

Note that the United States does not recognize the concept of international transit, and you must have a valid visa to enter the United States even if you are continuing on a flight to different country. It is advisable to avoid transiting through the U.S. if at all possible.

By car

As to roads from Canada and Mexico, they are too numerous to mention and travelers should consult Yahoo Maps, Mapquest or Google Maps or any other online mapping service. You will be able to get detailed itineraries from wherever you are to wherever you wish to go.

By boat

Entering the US by sea, other than on a registered cruise ship, may be difficult. The most common entry points for private boats are Los Angeles and the surrounding area, Florida, and the Eastern coastal states. Some passenger ferries exist between Canada and the US, notable from the Atlantic Provinces to New England, and from Victoria, British Columbia to Seattle.

Adapted from WikiTravel under the Wiki License


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