Some friends of ours recently visited our place in the sun and although they had been to Florida before they had forgotten some of the things that frequent visitors may take for granted so I thought I do a reminder blog.
PASSPORTS AND VISA WAIVER PROGRAMME
Firstly, your passport, officially it must be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. You don’t need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this. However, experience has shown us that US immigration still prefer that you have at least 6 months validity to travel to, and gain entry, to the US.
Most people will be able to travel under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP). The VWP allows most British Citizen passport holders to visit the US for up to 90 days. The types of journey allowed under the VWP include tourism, certain types of business visit and transit to another country. Additionally, from 1 April 2016, all travellers wishing to enter the US under the VWP will need to hold a passport with an integrated chip (an ePassport). If you are travelling under the VWP arriving by air or sea you will need to provide details online at least 72 hours before travel. This is known as an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation or ESTA. For more information, and to apply online, visit the official ESTA website. https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/
When you arrive in the USA you will need to be able to show that you have enough funds available to support yourself during your stay, even if you’re staying with family and friends.
That leads me to my next reminder – if you are going to hire a car and drive in the US please take a credit card with you – even if you don’t want to use it while you are abroad, you will be expected to present one for a ‘security deposit’ when you collect your car. Our friends forgot and in the end had to lead $100 cash which was refunded on the safe return of the vehicle.
To hire a car in the US you will also need to obtain a driving licence check code. On 8 June 2015, the paper counterpart to the photocard driving licence was abolished. The counterpart contained information such as any penalty points you have. Similarly, old-style paper licences, issued until 1998, are still valid but they won’t be updated with penalty points. Instead, you can now view all your up-to-date driving licence information using DVLA’s View Driving Licence service. When collecting a vehicle from a hire company many only ask to see your photocard licence or your pre-1998 paper licence – but some also want to check whether you have any penalty points. They may ask for a code so that they can check your licence online or for a printout of your licence details. You can go online to obtain a code to give to your hire company. Each code is valid for 21 days from the date you obtain it and it can only be used once.
Go to https://www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence to find out more
Final reminder, you may need to go through some toll booths to get to your accommodation from the airport and while you are round and about. It is a good idea to keep a toll kitty with quarters and dollar bills – some toll booths are unmanned and only accept coins. There are cameras and you will be fined if you don’t pay so don’t risk it, be prepared.
You will need to carry ID for both cheques and credit card purchases.