Welcome to the United States of America! If you soon plan on experiencing this welcome authentically on the spot, then you are in the right place. Because we have put together a small travel help for you. Find out now what to look out for when preparing for entry into the US, so that nothing stands in the way of your stay in the land of opportunity. No matter whether you are traveling as a tourist or business traveler, there are quite a few things to be prepared for. Passport, Visa, ESTA & Co. are among the most important entry requirements, which we explain in the next lines for you.
It depends on the right entry preparation
The passport is a must
From the outset, you should already know as a US newbie: an entry to the United States is not possible with the identity card. You definitely need a passport, and a machine-readable one. These are all passports issued after 2005 in Germany. It is not necessary to have one of the brand new passports issued since March 2017. Of course your passport should then be valid during the whole stay including the departure date. For provisional passports, you should necessarily have a USA visa.
Make an ESTA application
Fortunately, German citizens can normally travel to the US without a visa if they wish to stay there for a maximum of 3 months. This is possible thanks to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), but you should at least 72 hours before the actual travel an electronic entry permit via ESTA ( Electronic System of Travel Authorization ) apply. This additional safeguard was introduced in 2009 by the US Department of Homeland Security. The permitted entry permit is then valid for two years. This will enable you to visit the United States several times. The US ESTA currently costs $ 14, border control and handling fee included. Usually, you will get an electronic entry permit on workdays within the next 24 hours after you submit the ESTA application. But sometimes it can take longer. Therefore, you should not wait until the last days with the application, but ask this as early as possible.
Although this electronic entry procedure is not rocket science, it is something completely new for newcomers to the USA. Therefore, they should simply take a bit more time to complete the application process. If you are at your Request for US ESTA If you also need experienced help, you can get it on the website www.estaregistrierung.org. Not only will the online form be filled out, but you will enjoy the convenience of a free, German-language telephone hotline.
Extra tip: To be able to benefit from the Visa Waiver Program, you should definitely book your return flight before the ESTA application.
Alternative entry: apply for a visa
Unfortunately, your ESTA application may be rejected for any reason. So what? Do not panic! If you have enough time, you can arrange an appointment with the US Embassy and clarify the reasons for the refusal. In many cases, it might make sense to apply for a US visa from the outset. Depending on the type, it costs between $ 160-200. The visa is requested online on the GCI Federal website. You should simply complete the forms and make an appointment for a personal interview at the US Embassy in Frankfurt, Berlin or Munich. If you do not have sufficient command of English, it would be wise to rely on the assistance of a Visa agency or translator when completing the documents.
Further security precautions when entering the USA
From October 2017, the entry requirements in the US were noticeably tightened. When you book your flight, you will receive a so-called APIS form from the airlines ( Advance Passenger Information Service ). This can be completed online and submitted directly or expressed at check-in. This will transmit important data from you to the US authorities, which should be used to counter terrorism and crime.
The earlier laptop ban has already been lifted. But electronic devices are checked much more detailed. Renewed entry restrictions, including the complete entry ban for some countries, have been introduced. The following nationalities are affected: Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Venezuela, Chad and North Korea.
An additional security survey by airlines and even tighter control at the airport have become commonplace throughout US flights. Increased waiting times are preprogrammed here. You should therefore be at the airport at least 3 hours before departure, especially if you see the abbreviation SSS on your boarding pass. Because SSS ( Secondary Security Screening Selection ) means that you and your luggage will be checked even more thoroughly.
Puddle and experience your very special American dream!