I'm a German citizen. I used to live in Florida back in '88 - '90. During the 90s I went back there a few times on vacation, booking just a flight and a rental car, and just travelled around, booking into a motel whereever I was - basically a spur of the moment road trip. The immmigration forms I had to fill out on the flight asked for the hotel I would stay. I just gave the one I planned to use for the first night (but I ended up staying somewhere else).

A few years ago a friend went over there for a conference, and got into trouble with imigration because he did not book into the hotel he specified on the immigration forms.

Is it still possible to make trips like I used to, without booking everything in advance? Maybe booking a Hotel for the first one or two nights, so I don't have to lie on entry?


In my experience of travelling to the USA on an ESTA Visa from Europe you are asked you to write the address that you will be staying your first night in the USA, be it a hotel, friends house or family residence on the customs and border protection form.

The immigration officer asks to see this form and stamps it. You are then let into the country and hand this form to an official before you exit the baggage hall.

How much checking of that address they do, or even if it is recorded, I do not know. I get this address wrong most of the time anyway and I have never had any trouble. I imagine if this is left blank and you are asked and reply you do not know where you are staying then alarm bells will begin to ring for for the immigration officer.

Even if you are travelling around America by rental car it would probably be best to have a pre-booked hotel for one night after a long haul flight anyway. Safety first!

Sample US Customs Form

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    I've used the name of a forestry road as an address when I was going on a backpacking trip. – gerrit Apr 21 '15 at 15:03
  • Done that a lot in the past when on a road trip (and not just in the US). Put in the address of the hotel or whatever we stay the first night. Nobody ever asked questions, not even in highly paranoid countries (which the US are rapidly becoming of course). – jwenting Apr 22 '15 at 5:38

I don't think its a requirement to book hotel in advance but you can check the details over http://germany.usembassy.gov/visa/vwp/ But, of course, booking a hotel in advance would you the trouble your friend had. :-)



unfortunatly you must provide some sort of address. It sucks

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