United States Entry Requirements

United States Entry Requirements

Passport and visa regulations


Passport required visa required Return ticket required
Switzerland Yes no Yes
Other EU countries Yes 1 Yes
Austria Yes no Yes
Turkey Yes Yes Yes
Germany Yes no Yes

Passport information

Generally required, must be valid for at least 6 months after departure if a visa is required. Passports of Visa Waiver Program participants (tourist/business or transit only) must be valid at the time of stay. Attention: As of April 1, 2016, participants in the Visa Waiver Program require an electronic passport (e-passport). Note: Some airlines have different regulations and some require a minimum passport validity of 6 months. US citizens also need a passport for re-entry. Foreigners should carry their passport with them at all times while in the United States. In some states, such as Louisiana, it is mandatory carry your passport with you at all times. Attention: Visa-free entry for participants in the Visa Waiver Program is only possible with the machine-readable and bordeaux-colored European passport if they are electronic passports (e-passports) that have biometric data in chip form in order to be used for travel under the program for to be used for visa-free travel (Visa Waiver Program – VWP).

Visa information

A visa is generally required for entry. A Visa Waiver Program (VWP) exists for citizens of the following countries listed in the table above. They can enter the USA as tourists, transit travelers or as business people for a stay of up to 90 days without a visa if they meet certain conditions (see note – entry requirements). Attention: Since April 1, 2016, participants in the visa-free entry program need an electronic passport (e-passport).: Switzerland and EU countries ([1] exceptions: visa requirements apply to citizens of Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus); Note: Travelers subject to visa requirements The US consulates in Berlin and Frankfurt issue entry visas with biometric data. One photo and two fingerprints are electronically scanned per applicant (US Visit program). Entry requirements As a rule of thumb, nationals of countries participating in the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP) can enter the US for up to 90 days as tourists, business travelers or for transit if they : – are in possession of an e-passport valid during the stay; – arrive on a regular airline or shipping company; – have a return or onward ticket (which – except for permanent residents of these countries – not in Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean) and – are in possession of an electronic entry permit ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization, see Compulsory Registration). – All travelers who stayed in Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria or Sudan on or after March 1st, 2011 or who have dual nationality from Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Syria or Sudan are excluded from participating in the Visa Waiver Program and therefore require a visa to travel to the United States, unless they are, among others, diplomats, business travelers, journalists or members of the military. Attention: Airlines are obliged to reject travelers without a valid ESTA authorization at check-in. Students and participants in exchange programs: The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) collects the data of students and exchange students online. The SEVIS fee is US$350 for F/M visas and US$220 for J-1 visa holders and affects most students and exchange visitors registered in SEVIS. For F/M visas (students) and J visas (exchange programs), the application forms DS-160 and I-20 must also be submitted by all applicants. Visa for language students: For language trips, participants need a special student visa. Due to the processing times for the applications, which can vary greatly, it is advisable to plan your trip well in advance. Working in the USA: Travelers who want to take up paid or unpaid work in the USA (this includes working as an au pair or intern), planning a stay of more than 90 days or participating in a school/university exchange program require a visa even if they are citizens of one of the countries affiliated to the Visa Waiver Program. Further information is available from the consular posts.

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Note on the visa

Note for business travellers: As of November 8, 2021, only fully vaccinated persons are allowed to enter the country. Since the date mentioned, these no longer require a National Interest Exception NIE. Due to the frequently changing entry regulations, it is advisable to inquire at the responsible consular representation in good time before departure (see contact addresses).


Germans, Austrians and Turks: The following visa application fees apply to Germans and Austrians, among others: €144 (US$160) (tourists, students/exchange, business and transit trips. Visa categories B, C, D, F, I, J, M) Attention: Only applicants of F, J or M visas pay the additional SEVIS fee. €171 (US$190) (Temporary workers. Visa categories: H, L, O, P, Q, R). Payment of processing fee online. Swiss and Turks: The following visa application fee applies to Swiss and Turks, among others. 160 CHF (tourists, students/exchange, business and transit trips. Visa categories B, C, C1/D, D, F, I, J, M. Attention: Only applicants of F, J or M visas pay additionally the SEVIS fee. 190 CHF (Temporary workers. Visa categories: H, L, O, P, Q, R) Payment only by bank card, online bank transfer or in cash at the bank. More information at www.ustraveldocs.com/ch/ch-niv-paymentinfo.asp.

Visa types and costs

NIV (Non-Immigrant Visa) for leisure and business trips; F/M visa (student visa), J visa (participation in exchange programs); Journalist, temporary work and transit visa.


Depends on nationality and type of visa. Further information can be obtained from the American embassies and consulates.


Visa-free transit through the USA only applies to participants in the Visa Waiver Program (see Visa) if they also meet the following conditions: – Since April 1, 2016, participants in the program for visa-free entry require an electronic passport (e-passport). – confirmed onward travel ticket and valid entry papers for the third country, – the transit area is not left, – only the stipulated arrival airports are used (information is provided by the airlines), – no travel papers containing a US visa that has been declared invalid are in possession. – All travelers who stayed in Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Syria or Sudan on or after March 1st, 2011. Dual nationals who are citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria or Sudan are excluded from participating in the Visa Waiver Program and therefore require a visa to travel to the USA. ESTA travel authorizations that have already been issued for this group of people are also no longer valid. – Participation in the Secure Flight program. All other travelers require a pre-arranged transit visa. In Germany and Austria: A personal application at the consulate or consular department of the embassy (see contact addresses) is required. The date for the personal interview should be 6 to 8 weeks before the planned start of the trip. More information about making an appointment can be obtained from the American embassies or the visa service provider. All applications for nonimmigrant visas to the United States at the US embassies in Berlin and Vienna and the US consulates in Frankfurt and Munich must first be submitted using an electronic visa application form (EVAF) online or as a DS-160 form will. All J, F, and M visa applicants (exchange program participants and students) and all H, L, O, P, Q, R, E and A, G, and I visa applicants (all temporary work visa categories, traders, Investors and journalists) must also use the electronic visa application form (DS-160), which is also available on the American Embassy website. The EVAF is also available in a few other languages. Berlin processes all nonimmigrant visa applications except K (fiancé), E-1 (commercial) and E-2 (investor) visas. Frankfurt processes all applications except A, G, and NATO visas. Munich processes all nonimmigrant visa applications except K (fiancee), E-1 (commercial), E-2 (investor) visas, A, G, and NATO visas. In Switzerland: All visa applicants including students, exchange visitors, work visa applicants, investors must come to the embassy in person for the visa application. An appointment for an interview must be arranged online.

Application required

(a) Passport, which must be valid for Germans, Austrians, Swiss and nationals of most European countries at least during the planned stay (otherwise six months beyond the stay) and must still contain at least two free pages. (b) 1 recent biometric passport photo (no older than 6 months) for each applicant, regardless of age. Wearing glasses is only permitted if there is a medical certificate stating that the glasses may not be removed. The US Customs and Border Protection lists a description of the current, strict photo regulations. More information is available from the American embassies. (c) 1 electronic application form (Form DS-160). (d) Parental consent form in English for minors traveling alone. (e) Fee (can be paid online via the “Sofort” system or online by bank card or by electronic transfer or bank transfer) (stamped original of bank transfer receipt to be presented at interview). (f) If applicable, proof of sufficient funds for the duration of the stay. (g) Proof of permanent residence, if applicable. (h) Possibly valid residence permit for Germany, Austria or Switzerland. (i) Registered, self-addressed, stamped envelope. Attention: You may need to provide additional or more detailed documents confirming the purpose and details of the trip and proof that you intend to return to your home country.

Processing time

Due to the increased security precautions in the American embassies in Europe and the registration measures, the visa application process for EU citizens can also take longer than in previous years. Usually 5-7 working days from the interview date. Up to 14 days in summer and at Christmas. If possible, the application should be submitted online 8-12 weeks before the planned departure and you should try to arrange an interview appointment as early as possible. Depending on nationality and the type of visa application, the processing time is up to 8 weeks. In the main travel season, especially over Christmas and in the summer holidays, the processing time can be even longer.

Legally Required Registration

Business travelers and tourists (including underage tourists) who are allowed to enter the country without a visa as part of the Visa Waiver Program must register online with the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) no later than 3 days before departure. This is also possible in German. Required information includes name, any pseudonyms, nationality, gender, identity card number, place of birth, address, contact persons. The ESTA application is valid for all travel to the United States for two years or until the applicant’s passport expires or personal information changes (name, nationality, gender, passport change, or if the response to any of the information provided on the ESTA application form, changed with yes or no questions). More information on ESTA application at esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/. ESTA is subject to a fee (US$14). Payment can only be made online by credit card. It is advisable to print out the ESTA authorization and take it with you when traveling to the USA. The applications of the members of a travel group can be processed and paid for together in one step. If an incorrect ESTA application has been submitted, the Department of Homeland Security advises submitting a second application with the correct information. Normally the first request is then overwritten. If not, an explanatory email can be sent to cbp.esta@dhs.gov. The problem is then corrected manually and the new application can be sent. Incorrectly filled out forms are the easiest to avoid with the new function, where the machine-readable pages of the passport are uploaded via the computer’s camera or via the smartphone. Caution: When stating the passport number in the ESTA application, the number “0” (zero) must not be confused with the letter “O”, as this can lead to problems when entering the country. Travelers should only use the official website of the US Department of Homeland Security for ESTA registration, not other websites that may be offered by internet search engines, which often wrongly charge significantly higher fees. Secure Flight Program Airlines must, no later than 72 hours before the scheduled departure – preferably at the time of booking – name, first and middle name, date of birth, Submit gender and, if available, redress numbers of all travelers to the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Travelers should check with their airline or travel agent to ensure this has been done. The Secure Flight program also applies if you do not land on US soil at all, but only fly over US sovereign territory.

Documents required upon entry

Visa Waiver Program: ESTA Approval.

Entry with children

Germans: Children and babies need their own electronic passports (e-passports) to enter the United States visa-free. The children’s passport can only be used in conjunction with a visa. Austrians: Children and babies need their own e-passport to enter the US without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program. Child passports are valid for two years for children under the age of 2, five years for children under the age of 12 and ten years for children over the age of 12. Swiss: Only e-passports, children and babies need their own e-passport for visa-free entry. Turks: Own machine-readable passport with biometric data in connection with a visa. Note: The same visa requirements apply to children as to their parents. Note: Minors traveling alone and minors accompanied by only one parent should have a notarized travel authorization in English from the absent parent(s) upon departure from the United States.

Entry restrictions

Attention: There is an entry ban for nationals of Chad, Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. Accordingly, the nationalities mentioned cannot enter the USA if they do not have close connections (“bona fide relationship”) in the USA (e.g. spouses, parents, children, siblings, grandparents, nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, brothers-in-law, sister-in-law or fiancé in the US). Dual nationals who travel with their German passport are exempt from the entry ban. Contact Travel.State.Gov for more information. Holders of Greek passports issued before January 1, 2006 will be denied entry to the United States of America. Latvian citizens can only enter the country if their passport was issued after June 30, 2002. Holders of Spanish passports issued before 2006 should check with the relevant consulate to ensure they meet the requirements for visa-free entry. Direct entry into Cuba from the United States is prohibited under US law for tourist stays in Cuba. Travelers violating this law may be denied entry on subsequent trips to the United States.

Entry with pets

Up to 2 birds per owner may be brought into the USA. An import permit and a health certificate from the official veterinarian of the country of origin, issued no more than 30 days before arrival, must be presented for each bird. The birds must be quarantined in a US Department of Agriculture isolation facility (USDA, 4700 River Road, Unit 39, Riverdale, MD-20737) for a maximum of 30 days. USDA isolation wards are only available at Los Angeles, Miami, and New York JFK airports. Seats must be reserved in advance. Further information should be obtained from an American consulate or from Veterinay Services (VS) – APHIS (tel: (301) 734 83 64). Dogs over 12 weeks old must have a vaccination certificate showing that they have been vaccinated against rabies, which was carried out at least 30 days and no more than 12 months before entry. The vaccination certificate must be issued by an officially authorized veterinarian and it must identify the dog precisely. Cats do not usually require proof of vaccination, but many airlines require a veterinary health certificate. Warning: Some US states have stricter regulations such as Hawaii and require cats to be quarantined and vaccinated against rabies. Attention: When entering Hawaii, cats and dogs must be quarantined for 120 days. It is advisable to find out about the current import regulations in individual cases. Further information on animal import regulations is available in English from the US

United States Entry Requirements