We plan to enter the USA multiple times during our around-the-world trip, but not for more than 90 days each time.

  • 28 Jan - 7 Feb Hawaii
  • 7 Feb - 24 Feb Canada
  • 24 Feb - 6 Mar Alaska
  • 6 Mar - 12 May South America
  • 12 May - 20 Jun USA

If we have onward flight tickets purchased, would the ESTA program be sufficient for us? Additionally, the issue of Canada in between raises a question - should we have the tickets to South America already purchased in advance?

  • 1
    The Visa Waiver Program (which allows you entry via the ESTA) requires you to have an onward ticket. You'll need a ticket showing you are departing Alaska on 6 March
    – Midavalo
    Aug 3, 2023 at 18:11
  • 3
    Just to be sure, “South America” doesn’t include Mexico? That could change things a lot.
    – jcaron
    Aug 3, 2023 at 19:51
  • 3
    @jcaron: In the Americas, "South America," when the phrase is used at all, is generally understood to refer to countries south of Panama. I've never heard of anyone call Mexico part of "South America," but there are places in the Americas where this North/South business is not recognized.
    – Kevin
    Aug 4, 2023 at 3:47
  • 2
    @Kevin I live in Mexico, and I hear all the time people refer to Mexico (anything south of the US really) as being South America
    – Midavalo
    Aug 4, 2023 at 4:02
  • 1
    @phoog I know, my question was whether for OP “South America” included Mexico. While not the usual designation, for some people North America is just US+Canada and all the rest is South America. In which case if they travelled to Mexico it could change things relating to the VWP.
    – jcaron
    Aug 4, 2023 at 6:36

1 Answer 1


That itinerary is perfectly valid under the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA) rules.

On your first entry on January 28th you will be given 90 days to remain in the US, which will give you until (around) the end of April. Time spent in Canada IS included in this time, so when you enter Alaska they will treat it as if you didn't leave the US, so you will still be allowed stay until April.

When you re-enter the US on May 12th it will be treated as a separate trip to the US. At this point it's likely you will be given given another 90 days to remain in the US, although it's possible you will be given less - however you should not have any issues being given at least enough time in the country for your June 20th departure.

One of the conditions of entry into the US under the Visa Waiver Program is that you have a return/onward ticket to somewhere outside of North America. This means that at the time of your entry in Hawaii, you will need to already have the ticket to South America booked. Simply having your return ticket from the US on June 20 will NOT be sufficient as this is outside of the 90 days you are allowed stay in the US on that entry - you will need a ticket to somewhere outside of North America, within 90 days of entry.

Similarly, when you re-enter the US on May 12th, you will need to have a ticket to take you outside of North America on June 20.

(For the purposes of this rule, "North American" means Mexico, Canada, Bermuda or the Caribbean Islands)

  • Are St Pierre & Miquelon not included in "North America" under this rule?
    – TRiG
    Aug 4, 2023 at 10:52
  • 1
    Wow, had to look them up. They are pretty much never mentioned or asked about, in relations to the VWP, but yes, as they are 'adjacent islands' (like the Caribbean/Bermuda) they would be included in the VWP as part of "North America". Good catch.
    – CGCampbell
    Aug 4, 2023 at 11:39

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