General advice on entry regulations to the USA

Find out about the USA’s entry regulations in good time. Check whether you fulfil the requirements for visa-free entry; otherwise, the visa requirement applies. You can find helpful information here.

Lufthansa Destination: USA, New York

Requirements for a visa-free entry into the USA

  • You are a citizen of a country participating in the USA’s Visa Waiver Program and you are not affected by any of the exceptions.
  • Your passport fulfils the criteria demanded by the USA.
  • You possess an ESTA travel permit and are not affected by any of the exceptions.

Visa Waiver Program member states

The countries mentioned below belong to the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA). The citizens of these countries can enter the USA without a visa and stay there for up to 90 days.

All travellers who fall under the Visa Waiver Program must carry a biometric passport (with an E-chip) with them when travelling.

Andorra Australia Belgium Brunei
Chile Denmark Germany Estonia
Finland France Greece United Kingdom
Ireland Iceland Italy Japan
Latvia Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg
Malta Monaco New Zealand Netherlands
Norway Austria Portugal San Marino
Singapore Sweden Switzerland Slovakia
Slovenia Spain South Korea Taiwan, China
Czech Republic Hungary    

Exceptions: Excluded from the Visa Waiver Program are, among others, travellers

  • who were in Cuba on or after 12 January 2021
  • who were in North Korea, Iran or Syria on or after 1 March 2011
  • who, as dual citizens, hold citizenship of one of these countries.

ESTA travel permit

For a visa-free entry into the USA you must show your ESTA electronic travel permit. Without this document, you will be denied entry. Apply for a travel permit online up to 72 hours before departure at the latest. It is valid for two years and several entries, provided your passport does not expire within this period. Update your details and travel destinations at any time on the ESTA website. These changes are subject to a charge of USD 21 per entry.

Exceptions: Already issued ESTA travel permits lose their validity

  • if you were in Cuba on or after 12 January 2021
  • if you were in North Korea, Iran or Syria on or after 1 March 2011
  • if, as a dual citizen, you hold citizenship of one of these countries.

API data collection

Airlines are obliged to transfer the data of all passengers to the US authorities on the day of departure. This takes place via the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS). Among other things, your personal details (name, passport number, date of birth, etc.) and your contact details in the USA are collected. Correct and complete information saves you any inconvenience at your destination airport. The easiest way to transfer your data is online in advance. If this is not possible, it will be collected at the check-in machine or while checking in at the counter.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

Anyone travelling to the USA is obliged to give their details to the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA). These will be compared with the so-called watch lists. The details are the complete name, date of birth and gender (legal basis 49 U.S.C section 114 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 and of 49 C.F.R part 1540 and 1560). Persons who do not provide these details can be denied transport or access to the gate. Travellers with a redress number must provide this.

The TSA may match the details you have provided with those of law enforcement agencies, intelligence services or other authorities (under its published system of records).

All information about the TSA’s data protection guidelines, its records system and privacy impact assessment can be found at www.tsa.gov.

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