Passports and other documentary requirements
In general, all passengers, including U.S. citizens, must be in possession of a valid and unexpired passport to travel to the United States.
All passengers, except U.S. citizens, must also be in possession of a valid and unexpired visa, except:
- Lawful Permanent Residents of the U.S. who are in possession of a valid I-551 Permanent Resident Card (Green Card);
- Canadian citizens entering the U.S. for business/tourism; and
- passengers who are eligible to enter the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) - see information below.
It is the responsibility of the passenger to gather information about and obtain the required travel documents and visas that he/she needs for the destination country. Further information may be located on the websites of the embassies, the U.S. Department of State or the Customs and Border Protection Agency.
Please note that it can take quite awhile to get a visa application processed (sometimes weeks).
Entry requirements to the U.S. vary upon whether the individual is a U.S. citizen, is a lawful permanent resident in the U.S. or is a tourist of a foreign nationality. There are also different requirements for identification and travel documents between specific areas and countries that the U.S. has a bilateral agreement with. Also, there are differing requirements for visas. Further information may be found on the website of your local U.S. embassies or with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Icelandair advises passengers to always carry their passports with them when travelling between countries.
Passports must be valid for six months beyond the date the traveler will exit the U.S., except as follows: The U.S. has signed agreements with these countries and placed them in the socalled „Six Month Club“. When such an agreement is in place, the passport is only required to be valid for the period of the visitor's intended stay, until and with the date of departure from the U.S., but the additional six month validity period is not required. For more information, see the following websites: U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 9 - Visas and Travel.State.Gov. The United Kingdom is a member of the Six Month Club.
Passengers must complete a customs declaration form prior to arrival in the U.S. (one form per individual or one per family travelling together). Information on the form may be found on the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website.
Customs and immigration forms for the U.S. are distributed prior to departure. More details on the form can be found in the in-flight magazine Icelandair Info.
In accordance with the U.S.-Visit program, the U.S. authorities gather certain information from visitors upon arrival in the U.S. See link: http://www.dhs.gov/files/programs/usv.shtm
U.S. law requires that passengers disembark at their first port of call, to clear immigrations and customs. If the travel itinerary includes a stop at a U.S. airport before the final destination, the traveller must disembark, go through immigration, collect the luggage, clear customs and continue towards check-in for the second flight.
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables citizens of certain countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. Not all countries participate in the VWP. Some restrictions and conditions apply to this program as explained below.
Passengers travelling to the U.S. under the VWP must have a valid ticket for a confirmed return or onward flight from the U.S. within 90 days or arrival in the U.S. , prior to entering the U.S. An onward flights to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and/or the Caribbean is insufficient to satisfy this requirement, unless the passenger is a lawful resident of one of those countries.
As of 1 April 2016, all passengers must have an e-passport to use the VWP. The e-passport is embedded with an electronic chip, which may contain information such as a digital photograph, fingerprints, and the signature of the passport holder.
The chip also contains the same information presented in the machine-readable zone on the bottom of the biodata page. The e-passport must be machine readable.
Children MUST have their own passport in order to enter the U.S. on the VWP.
Passengers travelling to the U.S. under the WVP without an e-passport will have to pay a fine of $3,300 according to article number 273 under section b in the Immigration and Nationality Act. Emergency passports have to be e-passports according to U.S. requirements.
On January 21, 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of State announced changes to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to comply with recent legislation.
Due to these changes, passengers are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) if the following applies:
- Nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country).
- Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.
Electronic System Travel Authorization (ESTA)
All passengers travelling to the U.S. under the VWP must obtain an Electronic System Travel Authorization (ESTA), in advance of departure. Applications for ESTA can be made at the following website: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov
Travellers from all 37 Visa-Waiver Program countries must submit an applicaton through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). It is the responsibility of the passenger to secure an ESTA authorisation prior to departure.
Due to a directive from the U.S. authorities, passengers from Visa-Waiver Program countries can expect to be denied passage if they have neither a valid ESTA authorisation nor a visa presented prior to departure. Violations are subject to penalties and other by-laws.
Travellers should submit the application online at least 72 hours prior to departure. In most cases, the application is handled immediately, and you will receive an instant answer online.
All Visa Waiver Program travelers to the U.S. will be required to pay a fee when submitting their ESTA application through the ESTA website. Credit card or debit card payment is required.
Once the application has been approved, it will be valid for two years. Thereafter, only the required travel information needs to be updated in the system prior to departure, that is:
- city of departure
- flight number
- address in the United States
Visa Waiver Program Countries. Currently, 37 countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program, as shown below:
|Visa Waiver Program - Participating Countries|
|Germany||New Zealand||United Kingdom|
|Slovak Republic||South Korea||Greece|
As of January 20, 2010, citizens of the following countries are eligible to enter the U.S. on the VWP: Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland (Rep.), Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom ( United Kingdom Passports: Only those British Passport holders who are "British Citizens" or "British Subjects - With Right of Abode" are eligible to travel on the VWP. Holders of all other British Passports are ineligible).
In addition to the 27 countries listed above, the following nine countries are now also eligible for the VWP: Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Republic of Korea, Taiwan and the Slovak Republic. Citizens of these nine countries must carry passports with the integrated chip (e-Passports) in order to enter the U.S. under the VWP - regardless of the date the passport was issued. Lastly, as of 5th of April 2010, citizens of Greece are also eligible for the VWP, provided they carry an e-Passport issued on or after August 26 2006 by the AEA AA-NCP (Hellenic Police)
Passengers are directed to contact the authority responsible for issuing passports in the home country to obtain more information about their passports.
Summary of entry requirements under the Visa-Waiver Program (VWP)
To enter the U.S. under the VWP, travelers need to:
- Be a citizen of an eligible country
- Have a valid machine-readable passport (e-passport) issued by the eligible country
- Request entry for a limited stay up to 90 days or less for the purpose of business or tourism
The stay for VWP travellers cannot be extended beyond 90 days, nor can it be added to another period of stay.
Additional information can be found on the U.S. State Department website
Any passenger who does not satisfy the above requirements will require a non-immigrant visa to enter the U.S. or risk denial of passage or summary refusal of entry upon arrival and liability for a substantial monetary penalty.