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What to carry as you travel with ESTA

What do you need to take with you when flying to the USA? Is the ESTA document required?

As island dwelling citizens, we’re pretty used to the aeroplane procedures of travelling abroad, particularly within Europe. If you have previously surfed the sky to escape the grey summers, heading to sunny destinations like Spain and Greece, then flying to the USA isn’t much different to this. However, read on, as there are some elements in the procedure that may be a little unfamiliar to you! 

As is now standard in air travel, make sure you’re not taking anything in your hand luggage that is unauthorised. This includes the obvious items like blades and weaponry, but also the all-too-frequently overlooked requirement to ensure that any gels or liquids in your hand luggage are 100ml or less. If this is not the case, they will be very kindly and involuntarily donated to your airport of departure! The size of the bag that you can take as hand luggage tends to be 22” x 18” x 10”, however check with your specific airline on sizes and weights, as well as for your hold luggage. 

Be aware that US officials do spot checks on hold luggage, so make sure that your bag can be accessed. If you’re uneasy about not locking your bag, you can purchase special locks that allow for US airports to access your bag without breaking the lock. 

Now, here’s the important part: the red tape!

If travelling to the USA for 90 days or less, congratulations, as a British citizen you can take part in the US visa waiver system. It’s an extremely easy process, and it just requires you to apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation). You should apply for this in advance for peace of mind, but make sure that it’s at least 3 days before your date of departure. 

Make sure you carry your ESTA form with you when flying to the USA, as well as your passport. You’ll be asked to fill in immigrations and customs cards on the plane. You will also be expected to have the address of your accommodation to hand, whether that’s in a hotel or with a friend. Make sure you have a contact number too for your accommodation. 

Remember, as long as you’ve got your ESTA, passport and accommodation details, you don’t have to worry about anything else! There isn’t a thing you can’t find in the retail haven of the US!

Bon voyage! 

Travelling to the United States? Do you have your pre-planning checklist in order? Visit our ESTA Guide for more information about obtaining your travel permit. We'd love to hear from you. Send us your comments or questions for travel assistance.