USA Visa Requirements
Quick guide for what you need to do for travel to, from, within or over the USA
Step 1: Book your flight.
Step 2: Provide your Advance Passenger Information and Secure Flight Passenger Data through Manage Your Booking before we can issue your tickets. This information is mandatory for travel to the US.
Step 3: Your tickets will be issued once this information has been received.
Step 4: Apply for an electronic authorisation known as ESTA at the US Department of Homeland Security ESTA website. You can do this at any time before you travel.
Secure Flight and Advance Passenger Information Programs
For travel to, from, within or over the USA you must provide passenger information required by the US authorities under the Secure Flight and Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) programs.
The following information is mandatory:
- Each passenger's full name exactly as it appears on the passenger's travel document
- Date of birth
- Passport Number
- Country of passport issue
- Alien Registration Number (where applicable)
- Destination address in the USA (not required for US citizens and permanent residents) and country of residence for flights arriving into the US
- Redress Number* (if applicable)
You must provide this information to Qantas or your travel agent at the time of booking. You can provide the information on Manage Your Booking.
What is the Secure Flight Program?
Secure Flight enables pre-screening of passenger information against USA Federal Government watch lists. Watch list matching applies to all domestic and international passengers travelling on flights into, out of, within, or over the USA. The stated objectives of the program are to:
- identify known and suspected terrorists;
- prevent individuals on the No Fly List (and in some circumstances, other watch lists maintained by the USA Federal Government) from boarding an aircraft to the USA;
- identify individuals on the Selectee List for enhanced screening to determine if they are permitted to board an aircraft;
- facilitate passenger air travel by allowing cleared passengers to continue with their travel to the USA; and
- protect individuals' privacy.
What happens to the Secure Flight information?
The airline must receive clearance from the TSA for every passenger before that passenger is allowed to board a flight to, from, within or over the USA.
To obtain Secure Flight clearance, the airline must send the passenger's name, date of birth, gender and redress number (if applicable) to TSA at least 72 hours prior to flight departure. TSA is a division of DHS and is responsible for the matching process.
TSA has provided the following Privacy Notice for passengers: "The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires you to provide your full name, date of birth, and gender for the purpose of watch list screening, under the authority of 49 U.S.C. section 114, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 and 49 C.F.R parts 1540 and 1560. You may also provide your Redress Number, if available. Failure to provide your full name, date of birth, and gender may result in denial of transport or denial of authority to enter the boarding area. TSA may share information you provide with law enforcement or intelligence agencies or others under its published system of records notice. For more on TSA privacy policies, or to review the system of records notice and the privacy impact assessment, please see the TSA website."
What happens if I fail to provide this information?
If you have not provided your full name, date of birth and gender, your tickets will not be issued. The passport details and destination address for each passenger is also required at the time of booking on qantas.com. If you have not provided all of this information, you may be disrupted during check in and you may not be able to board your flight.
Does Secure Flight replace the Advance Passenger Information System?
The Secure Flight Program does not replace the APIS requirement. In addition to the information provided to the TSA, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requires carriers to submit passenger passport details, alien registration number (where applicable) and for flights arriving into the US, country of residence details and address details in the US (not required for US citizens and permanent residents). The carrier will not permit a passenger to board a flight to the USA unless CBP clearance has been received.
Both Secure Flight and APIS information can be provided on Manage Your Booking.
For further information about APIS please see the CBP website.
Electronic authorisation known as ESTA - part of the Visa Waiver Program, within or over the USA
It is mandatory for all eligible nationals who plan to travel to the USA under the Visa Waiver Program to obtain an electronic authorisation known as ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) before travel to the USA.
ESTA authorisation is only available from the US Department of Homeland Security ESTA website. You should apply at least 72 hours before your scheduled travel. You will be asked to answer basic eligibility questions and you will usually be advised immediately if your travel is authorised under the Visa Waiver Program.
Note: The US Government has advised that ESTA applications made on or after 8 September 2010 will be subject to a fee of US$14. An ESTA authorisation is valid for two years or expiry date of passport (if less than two years) and can be applied for any time
To be eligible for ESTA authorisation:
- You must have a machine-readable passport issued by one of the participating countries, and
- If your passport has been issued between 26 October 2005 and 25 October 2006, it must also contain either a digital photograph of the holder or be an 'e-passport', or
- If your passport has been issued on or after 26 October 2006, your passport must be an 'e-passport'.
What if I fail to obtain ESTA authorisation?
You will not be permitted to board a flight to the USA if you have not complied with USA visa requirements.
If you do not obtain ESTA authorisation and you are not a US citizen or permanent resident, you need to obtain a visa from a US Embassy or Consulate in advance of your travel. Please allow sufficient time for the US authorities to process your visa application.
For more information visit the US Department of State website.
Other points of note:
- Accompanied and unaccompanied children, regardless of age, are required to obtain an independent ESTA approval.
- If you are required to obtain a visa, or you already have one, you are not required to apply for ESTA authorisation.
If you would like to find out more about the ESTA program refer to the US Department of Homeland Security ESTA website.
Transit Without Visa and US Visit Programs
Transit Without Visa
The US Department of Homeland Security and the US Department of State have suspended the special international in-transit programs. For more information visit the US Department of State website.
The US Government introduced a mandatory program called US-VISIT, which is aimed at enhancing the security of the USA while expediting legitimate travel and trade. US-VISIT requirements are:
- Anyone who requires a visa to travel to the United States will be fingerprinted (both index fingers scanned using an inkless device) and have a digital photograph taken on arrival into the USA.
- Anyone travelling to the USA on the Visa Waiver Program will also be fingerprinted and have a digital photograph taken on arrival into the United States.
What if I fail to submit to fingerprinting?
Travellers who refuse to be fingerprinted and photographed will likely be refused entry to the USA. For more information visit the US Government website.