Is a passport necessary for a visit to the USA?

Is a passport necessary for a visit to the USA?

A trip to the United States is often an unforgettable time and is therefore anticipated impatiently. However, the preparations for this trip should not be ignored and it is therefore highly important to ensure that all documents and papers necessary for entering the USA are valid and correct.

Among the most frequent and important questions asked by future visitors relates to the need for a passport. So, is a passport necessary to travel to the USA? We will answer this question here in detail together with explanations concerning all documents necessary, none of which should be forgotten or ignored.


Is a passport necessary to travel to the USA?

The response to this question is of course in the affirmative. Although a simple identity document will suffice for visiting a number of countries, it will only do so for destinations within the European Union. Beyond European borders you will absolutely need to possess a passport and present it for inspection at boarding and on your entry into most countries.

The United States represent a highly popular destination although also extremely vigilant and diligent concerning the entry conditions onto American territory. You should therefore ensure you have a valid passport for the time of your departure. If you do not have a passport or your passport is nearing its expiry date then wait no longer, contact the passport authorities as soon as possible to expedite the procedure.  The time taken for the issue of a biometric passport can vary, particularly relating to the period of application, so it is highly important that you take this into account and apply for your passport well in advance.

It should also be noted that temporary passports are not acceptable for entry into the United States.


The other official documents required for your trip to the USA:

Although a passport is a necessary identification document for travelling to the USA, it is not sufficient in itself to authorise you to enter American territory. In fact, in accordance with the length of your stay in the United States, even if you are simply transiting through American territory, you will need at least the travel authorisation named the ESTA, or if not then a traditional valid visa.

The ESTA is an electronic system that makes it possible within a maximum of 72 hours to obtain the authorisation from American authorities to enter the USA for a stay of less than 90 days. The application for the ESTA needs to be completed online on a website such as ours by simply completing a form. Please note, when you complete your questionnaire you will be asked for your passport number so ensure you have this document at hand to avoid wasting time. Once the ESTA application form has been submitted and the fees paid you simply have to wait for a few hours to receive a positive or negative response from the American authorities by email.

If your stay is expected to be for longer than 90 days you should complete a visa application directly from the American Embassy.


Which types of passport are authorised for travelling to the USA with an ESTA?

As we examined above, if you apply for an ESTA authorisation for the United States you will absolutely need to possess a passport that is valid when you apply as well as during the entirety of your intended visit. But not all types of passport are acceptable for this program.

In fact, only passports that can be read electronically by a machine can be used for travelling to the USA using ESTA authorisation. Therefore only electronic or biometric passports with a microchip are eligible.

However, if your passport was originally issued without a microchip maybe it will be accepted if it has been renewed or prolonged and has a digital photograph printed on the data page with an electronic microchip that enables it to be read electronically. Do not forget to check this carefully before applying online for your ESTA.

In the case whereby your current passport does not enable digital reading but you still wish to use the ESTA program to prepare for your visit we recommend that you apply for a new passport from the passport office. In this way you will receive a new electronic or biometric passport that enables you to benefit from the visa waiver program. Of course, this application will be payable. You may also be required to supply certain documents relating to personal details as well as some recent photographs. 

Online ESTA application form