Things you need to know before visiting the USA
The USA is a travellers dream destination, with so many diverse and amazing sights and places to explore. No wonder, close to 1 million international visitors enter the USA each day, arriving to various ports throughout the country but there are some things you must be aware of while you are planning your trip to the USA.
Everyone that enters will be inspected by Customs and Border Protection officers before they are allowed in, regardless of what passport you carry. Some foreign nationals need an ESTA visa for USA, while others need an actual prearranged visa to enter. Regardless, there are a few things you need to know before visiting the USA.
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)
One thing you must not forget to do is to get a travel authorization to enter the States. An ESTA visa for USA is needed by everyone travelling to the USA that is from a country that does not require a pre-approved visa. There are 38 countries that are protected under the Visa Waiver Program that don’t need a visa to enter, but do need an ESTA visa for USA. The only exception to this are citizens from Canada and Mexico.
The ESTA visa for USA takes up to 24 hours to process, so it needs to be done before you get on the plane! It is very easy to do this online through https://www.estavisaus.org/.
This is not a visa, but a permit. It’s authorization to travel to or through the country. The ESTA visa for USA is valid for 2 years, so you can travel in and out of the country as many times as you’d like within the 2 years before having to apply for a new one.
USA Visitor Visa
If you are not a passport holder from one of the 38 countries protected under the Visa Waiver Program than you will have to apply for a tourist visa. You can’t enter with an ESTA visa for USA.
To apply for a visitor visa you will need to visit a USA Embassy or Consulate and apply for a visa, as well as go through an interview process. You will need proof that you intend to leave the country after your visit, as well as adequate finances to show that you’re able to afford to travel there.
This is extremely expensive, so travel insurance is a must. If you can’t afford travel insurance than you can’t afford to visit the USA and therefore you shouldn’t bother with the ESTA visa for USA. This is no joke. Many people go bankrupt paying the bills if they fall ill while visiting the States. As well, accidents happen, so you want to make sure you protect yourself.
This is the language of choice in the USA, and no matter where you go you will find someone to speak to. In some cities Spanish is spoken, so it could be a good opportunity to practice your Spanish skills. Other languages can be heard in some of the big cities, but expect to speak English more than anything else.
In Europe and Asia this is not customary. In the USA it is. The standard tip for any service provided is typically 15-20%. Wait and bar staff are paid incredibly low wages and rely on tips to make a living. So take this into consideration when ordering a meal or a drink.
Unless you’re visiting Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire or Oregon, expect to pay a sales tax. Anywhere from 5% to 10% sales tax will be added to everything that you buy in the USA. Keep this in mind before you head to the cashier with exact change.
Follow these tips and I’m sure you’ll have an amazing time in the USA.