26 Mar

Visa-free travel not possible for all British passports

ABTA is issuing a reminder to its Members and travellers today, (26 March) that only eligible British Citizens may travel visa-free under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to the United States. Conversely, British Subjects, British Dependent Territories Citizens, British Overseas Citizens, British National Overseas Citizens and British Protected Persons must all possess valid visas if they want to travel to the US.

The reminder follows a recent incident where a British Subject was prevented from boarding a flight to the US, even though they obtained ESTA (the US Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) approval.

Susan Parsons, ABTA’s Manager Trade Relations said: “We don’t want anyone who is looking forward to their stay in the United States to be disappointed, so we want travellers to be aware of this issue. The problem is that the same ESTA software is used worldwide, and because Britain has the anomalies of several different categories of passport, the system doesn’t make the distinction or ask what kind of British passport an applicant may have. However, the US Embassy’s website has a very useful ‘Visa Waiver Wizard’, which helps guide you through the basic requirements for visa-free travel under the Visa Waiver Program. You just press the buttons that apply to you, and it tells you whether you need a visa or not.”

Travellers can ask their ABTA travel agent or operator for any further information they may need with regards to their passports and visas.