My best friend holds a British passport and is travelling to the USA next year, but he doesn't have an e-passport. Can he apply for a US visa instead of travelling under the Visa Waiver Program?

  • 13
    Id be interested in knowing how your friends British passport is not an e-passport in 2020...
    – Moo
    Apr 4, 2020 at 4:59
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    This says that e-passports were introduced in the UK in 2006, with a new style in 2010. It seems like any currently valid UK passport should be an e-passport. Does it have the e-passport symbol on the cover? Apr 4, 2020 at 5:33
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    I'm making the assumption, possibly incorrect, that your friend holds a UK passport. If it's actually a British National (Overseas) passport or British Overseas Territories citizens passport or one of those other categories of passports, let me know, since those have different issues like possible ineligibility for the VWP. Apr 4, 2020 at 5:36
  • 1
    This passport is hopefully not a emergency travel document. That definitely could not be used, Apr 4, 2020 at 9:53
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    @ZachLipton I take that back ("all British passports are UK passports"): some passports have on the cover, for example, "British Islands Isle of Man" or the like. This is arguably a British passport but not a UK passport. Similarly, most overseas territories passports have "British Passport" and the name of the territory on the cover. However, passports for British nationals (overseas), British protected persons, British subjects, and Gibraltar say "United Kingdom" on the cover. Source: consilium.europa.eu/prado/en/prado-documents/GBR/A/O/….
    – phoog
    Apr 4, 2020 at 16:23

1 Answer 1


Yes, he can, but...

There is a US$160 fee for a US B1/B2 visa, and your friend might also have to attend a visa interview.

He can renew his British passport at anytime, so unless there is some other reason why a visa is needed, it might be easier to do that and then apply for an ESTA.

  • 5
    "Yes, he can" provided his UK passport is valid, which seems unlikely. Either it's valid (was issued no more than 10 years and 9 months ago*), in which case it's an e-passport and the friend can use the visa waiver program, or it's not valid. (* it used to be possible to "carry over" up to 9 months of validity when renewing your passport, so the new one could be issued for slightly more than 10 years. That's no longer allowed circa 2018.) Apr 4, 2020 at 13:28

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