On this page, you will find a how-to-guide which explains the process of applying for an individual ESTA and a brief collection of travel tips to make your trip to the US easier and more comfortable.
Important Safety Information
While it is unlikely you will encounter any dangerous conditions in the USA, it is still useful to have information at hand for if you encounter any sort of emergency situation. Phone numbers, addresses, and instructions on what you need to do are vital should you need any assistance.
Although millions of tourists from the UK visit the US every year, it never hurts to be prepared and to be aware of your options should you need any help.
The most important thing to have with you is the collection of your documents. It’s advised to keep copies of your documents, to take the originals with you and have at least one set of copies to leave with a trusted friend or relative. Make sure to keep all of your relevant documentation that you will need to present to officials in your carry-on luggage, and don’t pack it into your checked in luggage.
When you’re heading to the USA, or flying out, you will need to go through security before you can go to the gate and board your flight. If your boarding pass has been marked with SSSS, short for Secondary Security Screening Selection, then you will need to go through additional security checks when boarding. These checks are more intense and so you may be patted down, have your bags swabbed and searched, and have additional scans performed.
If your pass is marked with this, you will also not be able to print your boarding passes at home and will be redirected to a ticket desk when you go to the airport. People who have gone through this extra screening claim that it doesn’t take longer than 10-20 minutes, however, so just make sure to leave extra time for your journey when going to the airport. Make sure to become familiar with what items are and aren’t allowed when flying into the USA. You must declare agricultural products, as many aren’t allowed into the country. Most items with meat in them are not allowed, but you will be able to bring in small meals (for example, a homemade meal to eat on your journey). Any medication you bring should only be the amount that a person would use for the duration of their stay, especially if it could potentially contain addictive drugs or narcotics, such as cough medicine, sleeping pills, or similar.
After you’ve flown, and arrived to your destination in the United States, you’ll need to pass through passport control in the USA. You can carry out these checks in some airports by way of APC kiosks. These kiosks are ideal for streamlining your Customs and Border Check process, as you can input answers to the CBP inspection questions, your biographic information, and your flight information on the kiosks. You can also input your customs declarations on the kiosk. They will also scan your passport for you, and you only need to take the final receipt and your passport from the kiosk to a CBP Officer, who will then finalise your, inspection for entry.
These kiosks are available in many different airports in the USA., but a full list can be found on the Customs and Border Check website. The APC kiosks are eligible for use by travellers who have entered the country using ESTA, so the process of passing through border security will become much easier, and faster.
Although travellers are able to take their electronic devices with them onto flights, you willneed to scan them separately in security in much the same way as when travelling to many other countries. If you are flying in or out of the United States, you may need to show to security that your devices are charged by powering them on.
Devices with no charge in them will be confiscated by the security agents, so make sure to keep them fully charged before you leave for the airport and go through security.
It is important that prior to departure you are aware of the latest safety updates, and travel guidelines. You can check these with your local embassy, and have a look at travel guidelines to the USA on the official TSA website, where new rules and regulations are posted.
You will need to keep up to date with these as your departure approaches, and not just check them when you make your ESTA application. It could be that there are new regulations regarding luggage, arrival at the airport, or paperwork.