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Passport changes when travelling to the United States after 1st April 2016

A recent update from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office has advised that from the 1st April 2016, all travellers wishing to enter the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Programme will need to hold a passport with an integrated chip.

If you have an old style passport you will need to update it to gain entry to the U.S. so don’t delay, as it may take a few weeks to receive your new one. Find out how to change your passport here.

What is the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP)?

The VWP allows most British Citizen passport holders to visit the U.S. for up to 90 days. The types of journey permissible under the VWP include tourism, certain types of business trips and transit to another country.

You may not be eligible to enter the U.S. under the VWP if you have a criminal record or have been arrested, even if it didn’t result in a conviction.

Those travelling under the VWP arriving by air or sea should provide details online at least 72 hours before travel. This is known as an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation or ESTA but be warned; if you do not apply for an ESTA you will be refused travel to the U.S.

What is an ESTA?

An ESTA is an automated system that assists in determining eligibility to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Programme and whether such travel poses any law enforcement or security risk. Upon completion of an ESTA application, a traveller is notified of his or her eligibility to travel to the United States under the VWP.

For more information, and to apply online, visit the official ESTA website.

Further details on the VWP and other aspects of U.S. immigration rules are available from the Customs and Border Protection website.

The passport changes are not the only things you need to consider for your next trip to the U.S. especially if you are travelling with a medical condition or children.

What are the rules about taking prescription medicines into the US?

Prescription medications should be in their original containers with the doctor’s prescription printed on the container. It is advised that you travel with no more than personal use quantities and a rule of thumb is no more than a 90 day supply. If your medications are not in their original containers, you must have a copy of your prescription with you or a letter from your doctor.

Travelling with children

If a child (under the age of 18) is travelling with only one parent or someone who isn’t a parent or legal guardian, you may be asked to provide certain documents at the border.

For more information about travelling the globe along with up to date travel news, check-out the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s Know Before You Go website. It has information on all risks to all travellers in more than 255 countries and territories around the world.

Don’t forget your travel insurance

For a single trip quote click here and if you are thinking of taking more than one holiday this year, why not see if we can offer you annual multi-trip travel insurance.