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Visa Waiver Program Requirements

Visa Waiver Program Requirements

The Visa Waiver Program permits citizens of participating countries* to travel to the United States for business or tourism for stays of up to 90 days without a visa.

Visa Waiver Program Countries

There are currently 38 countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program:

  • Andorra (1991)
  • Australia (1996)
  • Austria (1991)
  • Belgium (1991)
  • Brunei (1993)
  • Chile (2014)
  • Czech Republic (2008)
  • Denmark (1991)
  • Estonia (2008)
  • Finland (1991)
  • France (1989)
  • Germany (1989)
  • Greece (2010)
  • Hungary (2008)
  • Iceland (1991)
  • Ireland (1995)
  • Italy (1989)
  • Japan (1988)
  • Korea, Republic of (2008)
  • Latvia (2008)
  • Liechtenstein (1991)
  • Lithuania (2008)
  • Luxembourg (1991)
  • Malta (2008)
  • Monaco (1991)
  • Netherlands (1989)
  • New Zealand (1991)
  • Norway (1991)
  • Portugal (1999)
  • San Marino (1991)
  • Singapore (1999)
  • Slovakia (2008)
  • Slovenia (1997)
  • Spain (1991)
  • Sweden (1989)
  • Switzerland (1989)
  • Taiwan (2012)
  • United Kingdom** (1988)
NOTE: The new countries of Curacao, Bonaire, St Eustatius, Saba and St Maarten (the former Netherlands Antilles) are not eligible to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program if they are applying for admission with passports from these countries.

Passport Requirements

All travelers to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (including infants and children) must possess a valid machine-readable passport issued by one of the 38 Visa Waiver Program countries.  The validity of the passport must extend six months beyond the traveler’s planned date of departure to the United States (unless exempted by country-specific agreements).

Citizens of Chile, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Republic of Korea, and Slovakia must possess an e-passport with an integrated chip containing information from the passport data page.

Citizens of Taiwan must possess an e-passport with an integrated chip containing information from the passport data page as well as a national identification number.

The passport requirements for citizens of Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom vary depending on the date of passport issuance. Please continue reading for further details.

e-Passports

Depiction of e-Passport symbol on front of passportPassports issued by Visa Waiver Program countries on or after October 26, 2006 must be e-Passports, which include an integrated computer chip capable of storing biographic information from the data page as well as biometric information, such as the required digital photograph of the holder. You can identify an e-Passport by the symbol on the front cover of the passport booklet (see the image to the right).

If your passport does not have this feature and you are a citizen of a country that joined the Visa Waiver Program prior to 2008, you can still travel without a visa if:

  • You have a valid passport with a machine-readable zone issued before October 26, 2005; or

  • If your passport includes a digital photograph and was issued between October 26, 2005 and October 25, 2006.

If you were issued a passport on or after October 26, 2006 and it is not an e-Passport, you will need to obtain a visa.

Digital Photographs

Depiction of passport with Digital ImageAll Visa Waiver Program country must issue passports with a digital photograph printed on the data page or their citizens will be required to obtain a visa to travel to the United States. A digital photograph is one that is printed on the page as opposed to a photograph that is glued or laminated into the passport. It looks like the image to the right.

If your passport does not have this feature, you can still travel without a visa if:

  • You are a citizen of a country that joined the Visa Waiver Program prior to 2008 and possess a valid passport containing a machine-readable zone issued before October 26, 2005, or
  • You have an “e-Passport,” which includes an integrated computer chip capable of storing biographic information from the data page, a digital photograph, and other biometric information.

If you were issued a passport on or after October 26, 2005 and it does not meet the aforementioned requirements, you will need to obtain a visa.

Machine-Readable Passports

All Visa Waiver Program countries must issue passports with a machine-readable zone. A machine-readable passport has two lines of text as letters, numbers and chevrons (<<<) at the bottom of the personal information page, along with the bearer’s picture. It looks like the image below.

Machine Readable Passport Sample

If your passport does not have this feature, you have two options:

  • Obtain a qualifying, new passport if your country of nationality is producing one, or
  • Obtain a visa.

Please contact your passport-issuing agency or your country's embassy if you have questions about your country’s production of a qualifying e-Passport.

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is a fully automated, electronic system for screening passengers before they begin travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. Eligible citizens or nationals from all Visa Waiver Program countries must obtain approval through ESTA prior to traveling to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. Visa Waiver Program travelers are encouraged to apply for authorization as soon as they begin to plan a trip to the United States.

Please refer to the ESTA webpage for more detailed information or to apply for ESTA.

Additional Information

For more information about the Visa Waiver Program please visit the State Department's Travel Website.

* With respect to all references to “country” or “countries” in this document, it should be noted that the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, Pub. L. No. 96-8, Section 4(b)(1), provides that “[w]henever the laws of the United States refer or relate to foreign countries, nations, states, governments, or similar entities, such terms shall include and such laws shall apply with respect to Taiwan.” 22 U.S.C. § 3303(b)(1). Accordingly, all references to “country” or “countries” in the Visa Waiver Program authorizing legislation, Section 217 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1187, are read to include Taiwan. This is consistent with the United States’ one-China policy, under which the United States has maintained unofficial relations with Taiwan since 1979.

** British citizens only with the unrestricted right of permanent abode in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

Last Published Date: August 20, 2015

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