Is it possible to fly to the US this upcoming Thursday (todays Tuesday so about 3 days)? We've (My Dad and me) never flown to the US before, but my passport is valid and up to date. We're from the UK, and will be flying from it, which is part of the Visa Waiver Program.

The ESTA website says it is almost immediate in saying whether you've been accepted or not, but is there anything more that is needed. We're trying to plan a last minute 3 day holiday to see the last Shuttle launch, so return on Saturday.

Will this be possible? Also is it ok to just find a cheap motel or something when we get there? Or even sleep in a rental car?

  • They do ask for the address you will be staying for the first night. Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 13:33
  • You need a valid passport, if it expires within 6months your no good. However, if your passport is good then book your flight your ready to go. Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 19:32

2 Answers 2


As long as you meet these requirements you should be fine. As Tom said, they'll ask where you're staying so I would have a cheap motel booked for at least one night.

  • 3
    No need to have it booked. I never had to show a booking confirmation. As long as you fill out an address, or even just "Hilton, San Francisco" for instance, you'll be fine!
    – fretje
    Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 14:25
  • 2
    Didn't realize that. I always had it booked. Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 15:36
  • @fretje Don't give this advise. You are advising people to lie. They do check once and a while, and when caught you can be in real trouble.
    – user141
    Commented Jul 6, 2011 at 8:58
  • 7
    @Andra It's not a lie to say you intend to stay at X (without having a reservation). Hotels get plenty of walk-in business.
    – dbkk
    Commented Jul 6, 2011 at 9:29
  • 1
    @Andra: I've yet to hear about the first person getting in trouble for that... What if you don't know yet. I remember once arriving late at night in San Francisco. We drove straight to Reno, wanted to stay in CircusCircus, but they were apparently fully booked. It was already very late, so we ended up sleeping in our rental car for a couple of hours before we could check in in the morning. Or what if you plan to stay with a friend, but you end up crashing in the couch at another friends place. I don't like planning ahead too much, especially if I'm on holidays!
    – fretje
    Commented Jul 6, 2011 at 11:04

Nowadays they are asking for a visa that you can fill up online 48h previous your flight (Yes even for European people). If you have time to fill it up you should be good.

  • Really on the government sites they say people from the UK and a list of other countries don't need visas for "pleasure or business" for less than 90 days?
    – Jonathan.
    Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 14:21
  • @Jonathan: I think @Spredzy is talking about the ESTA program.
    – fretje
    Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 14:28
  • @fretje : Yes that is it !
    – Spredzy
    Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 14:34
  • 6
    @Spredzy: you might brush up your terminology then. ESTA is for International travelers who are seeking to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, and the Visa Waiver Program allows citizens of designated countries to apply for admission to the United States as visitors (traveling for holiday and/or business OR in transit) without first obtaining a non-immigrant business/tourist visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
    – fretje
    Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 15:16
  • 3
    ESTA is effectively a visa program. They just can't call it one because of international treaties barring the US from requiring visa from citizens of ESTA countries (withdrawal from those would mean US citizens would now need visa for all those countries...). It's little different from Turkey or Indonesia where you can buy a visa on arrival, only the US has moved it online.
    – jwenting
    Commented Jan 12, 2012 at 6:50

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