Entry formalities in the United States

Access to American territory is managed by the Department of Homeland Security in the United States, DHS in English for Department Homeland Security . The rules evolve and can change radically depending on the years in the USA. For example, when the country encounters an issue like the COVID health crisis that began in March 2020, US borders were closed by DHS for nationals of foreign countries for 18 months.

If you plan to travel to the USA, you must therefore inform yourself of the conditions in force at the time of your trip. You also need to inform yourself about the format of the travel authorization you wish to obtain. The 3 main authorizations to come into force in the USA are:

  • The ESTA Electronic Travel Authorization for short-term stays of nationals of countries participating in the Waiver Visa Program set up by the United States.
  • The USA tourist visa for stays longer than 90 days
  • The Green card, the permanent resident card for people who wish to settle permanently in the USA.

Do you have to print your ESTA before arriving in the USA?

When you have obtained by e-mail the agreement concerning your Travel Authorization for the USA, it is not necessary to print your ESTA . In fact, the American customs services will have up-to-date information in their computer system.

Do I need an ESTA for a transit in the United States?

As part of a flight to Canada or to a country in South America, you may have a stopover in the United States. The United States requires an ESTA for the transit of a traveler through their territory. You must therefore plan to apply for your ESTA online before taking off for your trip to the USA.

Similarly, when your air travel involves transit through Canada, you will need to obtain a Canada tourist visa or an ETA Electronic Travel Authorization to enter Canada.

Travel authorization to go to California or New York

Whatever your destination in the USA, you must plan to carry out the formalities for entering the territory beforehand. When you consider a tourist stay in the USA you must have an ESTA to go to California or anywhere in the USA.

How to recover your lost ESTA

The ESTA Travel Authorization is valid for 2 years. If you have a valid ESTA and can no longer find your travel authorization information, you can verify and retrieve your ESTA on the official website of the DHS Department Homeland Security.

What is the difference between a visa and an ESTA?

The ESTA Travel Authorization is a simplified administrative procedure to be authorized to enter the USA. This accreditation process for foreign travelers takes place exclusively via the Internet. Each traveler must apply online to obtain their ESTA administrative travel certificate before boarding for the USA. The ESTA is valid for 2 years for stays of less than 90 days each time the traveler enters the United States.

The main difference with a US visa is the reason for the trip. Visas allow applicants to consider many more possible things to do in the USA and for much longer. The period of validity of a visa depends on the type of visa, but it is generally 5 years with no limitation of the length of stay to 90 days. The visas allow stays of 6 months on American territory.

Preparing for your stay in the USA

As part of the preparation for your trip to the United States, you must think about preparing your stay there. If you plan to travel by car, we advise you to check on this specialized site that you can drive in the United States with your French license the car you are going to rent on site.