Are you going on a holiday or business trip to the USA? It’s important to not forget any important documents. To avoid any welcome surprises, we made a straightforward checklist with most important things and documents which you can best bring on your trip to the USA.
The three most important things are your payment pass, passport and ESTA USA. The ESTA USA in particular is something many travellers forget when headed to the USA. You can apply for an ESTA USA online.
To enter the USA, it is essential that you can identify yourself with your passport. Take note: you need to bring the passport with you that was used during the application of your ESTA USA or visa. If you acquired a new passport in the meantime, it will not be valid for your trip. You will need to apply for a new ESTA or US visa to still travel to the USA. Make sure your passport is valid for your entire stay in the USA, otherwise you won’t be let in.
US visa or ESTA USA
Aside from the passport, it is important to to have applied for and received a valid ESTA USA. The ESTA is a travel permit issued by the US government, and is mandatory for all British travellers headed to the USA by plane. The ESTA USA can be applied for here. If you plan on staying in the United States for longer than 90 days, an ESTA will not suffice and you need to apply for a US visa. Beware of the validity of an ESTA applied for through the ESTA form.
Virtually all commonly used payment cards in the UK work in the USA. These include both credit cards and debit cards. MasterCard, Visa and American Express in particular are popular payment methods in the United States. In general, it’s cheaper to pay with debit cards, as credit cards are often charged a slightly higher fee for transactions. To make your trip as convienient as possible, it's best to bring both types of payment cards.
These days, it is no longer necessary to print your flight ticket, as you can check in with just your passport. However, it is still recommended to print your flight tickets, just to be sure.
Proof of insurance
Aside from your ESTA and passport, the US immigration service might also ask you to present documents that prove you have travel and health insurance. Having this information at hand can also be useful for yourself, such as an emergency number which you can call if faced with trouble.
A UK driver’s license is perfectly valid in the United States. All that is required is that you have held your license for a minimum of one year. If you plan on renting a car or camper in the USA, you therefore won’t need to get a special international license.
Copies of important documents
Nothing is more aggravating than losing important documents during your trip. An important tip is therefore to make copies of your passport, flight tickets, credit card, visa and driver's license. A copy won’t always be accepted as valid, but it can still be of help in case you lose the original. Make sure that you keep the copies in a separate location, and not with the originals. You can also keep a digital copy in your phone, provided you lock your passport when not using it.
When flying, it can be smart to keep a number of items in your hand luggage. These include all the information above, and general things like your wallet and phone. Other than those things, you can also think of items like earplugs, a heavy sweater (it can often get cold inside the plane), toiletries, sunscreen, medicine, a battery pack, chargers, a pillow, a travel guide or other reading material, etc. Keep in mind that you are not allowed to bring any sharp or otherwise unsafe items. Even a nail file is not allowed. Keep these in your main luggage before checking in.
The main luggage is handed over during check-in, and picked up at the conveyor belt on arrival in the USA. Make sure you pack enough clothes. The USA is a large country, and has a wide variety of weather types. In general, you’re better off bringing too much clothes than too few.