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Visa Waiver Program
January 1, 2018

New Information regarding ESTA: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov

Please apply early! 
The information below is directed at German passport holders. Germany is a member of the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA). As of January 12, 2009, all nationals or citizens of Visa Waiver Program countries who plan to travel to the United States for temporary business or pleasure require an approved Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to boarding a carrier to travel by air or sea to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA). The Visa Waiver Program (ESTA) applies to the United States of America including Puerto Rico, Guam and the US-Virgin Islands.

For information on how to apply for ESTA, please follow this link.  Please also refer to our FAQs

Not a German passport holder? For Visa Waiver Program (ESTA) information regarding other countries and their passport requirements, please visit the website of the U.S. Consulate, Embassy or Diplomatic Mission to that country; complete list at http://www.usembassy.gov/.

VWP Conditions

You may travel visa free if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • You have your own passport (everyone, including children, is required to have his or her own passport to travel under the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA);
  • Children’s passport (Kinderreisepass) are not eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA), unless issued or extended before or on 26 October 2006. All Children’s ID (Kinderausweis) require a visa and are not eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA). Children must have their own e-passport to travel visa waiver (ESTA)P.
  • You are traveling for business, pleasure or transit only.
  • Your intended stay in the United States does not exceed 90 days.
  • You must hold a valid return or onward ticket. Onward tickets may not end in Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean.
  • You will enter the United States aboard an air or sea carrier that has agreed to participate in the program. This applies to most airlines and shipping companies.
  • Private or official aircraft or vessels do not meet this requirement. You will need a visa if you travel on a private plane or yacht.
  • Your passport is valid for the duration of stay in the U.S.
  • Please see the 2016 Changes to the Visa Waiver Program for additional ESTA conditions:

2016 Changes to the Visa Waiver Program

February 18, 2016 WASHINGTON—The United States today began implementing changes under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 (the Act).  U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) welcomes more than a million passengers arriving to the United States every day and is committed to facilitating legitimate travel while maintaining the highest standards of security and border protection. Under the Act, travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP):

  • Nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen 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.

These individuals will still be able to apply for a visa using the regular immigration process at their embassies or consulates. For those who need a U.S. visa for urgent business, medical, or humanitarian travel to the United States, U.S. embassies and consulates stand ready to process applications on an expedited basis.

Which German passports are valid for traveling on the VWP?

If your passport does not meet the requirements below, then you will need a visa.

Passport: As of April 1, 2016, only electronic (e-passports) are valid for visa free travel.

Children’s Passports: Children’s passports (Kinderreisepass) are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA) if issued or extended before or on 26 October 2006. The document must also then meet normal Visa Waiver Program (ESTA) eligibility requirements in that it be an e-passport, machine-readable and possess a digital photograph of the bearer integrated into the biographical data page. Children’s passports issued or extended after 26 October 2006 require a visa for travel.

Invalid for Visa Waiver Program (ESTA) Travel, Visa Required

  • Temporary Passport
  • Children’s “Kinderausweis”
  • Travel ID
  • Travel Document