USA entry requirements

When entering the United States, you must comply with American entry and import regulations. We explain the procedures, necessary documents, and all the rules for entering the USA.

Travel documents for USA entry

At the US border, the final decision on your entry permit is made by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers. The border officials may ask you to present some documents in addition to a brief questioning at the counter.

Passport for traveling to the USA

Your passport must be valid at least until the end of your trip, including your departure date, if you are a citizen of a Six Month Club member country.

Travelers from countries that are not among the 125 Six Month Club member countries must have passport validity for at least six months after their date of entry into the United States.

Visa for USA travel

You will need an ESTA or visa to enter the USA - depending on the country in which your passport was issued. The ESTA electronic travel authorization can be obtained quickly and easily by travelers from the 40 participating ESTA countries and entitles them to stay in the USA for 90 days at a time.

Other documents required for US entry

CBP border agents may require a number of documents from you upon entry to verify your reason to travel or sufficient ties to your home country. T

he following documents are frequently requested:

  • Proof of financial resources for the duration of your stay in the USA, including your return trip (e.g., bank statements)
  • Return or onward travel tickets
  • Health certificates (based on personal impression or medications you carry with you)
  • Proof of a job, studies, family ties, or real estate ownership in your home country

USA entry with children

If you plan to travel to the US with children, each needs their own ESTA application or visa. Still, you should also carry any documents that can prove your relationship with the child and the legality of traveling together. This includes birth certificates, notarized powers of attorney, copies of identification, and contact information for all parents or legal guardians.

Entry requirements for the USA

In order to enter the United States, you must meet certain requirements, most of which will be requested during your ESTA or visa application. Border agents will make a final assessment of your eligibility for entry at the time of your arrival at the counter.

The following criteria will be taken into consideration:

  • Are you really entering the country for the reason your ESTA or visa was issued?
  • Could you possibly pose a threat to the country or the US population?
  • Are you currently subject to an entry ban?
  • Do you have sufficient ties to your home country?
  • Might you intend to immigrate illegally to the US?

Permission for your entry into the USA is the responsibility of local border officials.

Vaccinations for the USA

There are no mandatory vaccinations for entry into the USA. However, there are a number of other recommendations. These include vaccinations against hepatitis A and B, rabies, measles, mumps, and chickenpox.

As the situation is very dynamic, please check the current vaccination, testing, quarantine, and sanitation requirements on a daily basis before traveling.

Travel security and customs in the USA

Before crossing the border into the USA, you will be required to provide a variety of data used by the US government to ensure homeland security and travel safety. This includes data for the Transportation Security Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, and Customs and Border Protection.

TSA / Secure Flight

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires airlines to provide accurate information about the passengers they transport. You must provide some information on the TSA form when you book your flight to make this possible. It includes:

  • First and last name
  • Date of birth
  • Gender

The purpose of verifying this data even before boarding an aircraft is to identify known or suspected terrorists or other individuals who may pose a threat to air travel.


For homeland security reasons, you must complete the APIS data request during the booking process or at the latest when you check-in for your flight. The APIS (Advance Passenger Information System) is used for the work of Customs and Border Protection in the USA. Please have the following data ready for this purpose:

  • First and last name
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Nationality
  • Passport number
  • Country of passport issue
  • The expiration date of passport

This data will be transmitted to the US authorities together with your flight number.

I-94 Entry Form / Arrival Form

CBP stores your pre-entry information on the I-94 form to document your lawful entry and exit. Nowadays, the I-94 is filed digitally and does not need to be completed by hand.

However, you should take a look at the stored data on the CBP website when entering the country to check the dates and have it corrected, if necessary.

CBP Declaration Form

Before entering the United States, you must complete the Declaration Form (CBP Form 6059B) from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. This form is used to explain who you are and what you will be bringing into the USA.

If you are traveling with family members from the same household, one completed form for your entire family will suffice. The customs declaration will ask for the following information:

  • First and last name
  • Date of birth
  • Airline or shipping company you came with
  • Number of family members traveling
  • Passport number
  • Country of issue of passport
  • Home address
  • Countries visited (on the current trip)
  • First overnight address in the USA
  • Is the purpose of your trip to the USA for business?
  • Are you carrying commercial goods? (e.g., items for sale or samples)
  • Goods you are bringing

You must check "Yes" or "No" for the goods you are carrying. The following items are subject to declaration:

  • Fruits, vegetables, plants, seeds, foodstuffs, insects
  • Meat, animals, animal products
  • Pathogens, cell cultures, snails
  • Soil, ground from a farm or pasture
  • Foreign exchange / funds over $ 10,000 eldmittel über 10.000 $

Insurances for a trip to the USA

There are no insurance policies required for entry into the USA. However, we recommend that you purchase travel health insurance, which will provide you with adequate protection while you are there.

Entry procedure to the USA

Entering the USA normally proceeds in the following order:

  • Online check-in and data queries (APIS, TSA)
  • Security checks before boarding the plane or ship
  • Border control with passport check (interview with border officials if necessary)
  • Submission of customs declaration
  • Baggage check by customs

Security checks

In addition to the normal pre-trip security check, you may be called for a second and more detailed security check. During the SSSS (Secondary Security Screening Selection), your carry-on luggage will be closely searched. You will be patted down, and the officers will ask you some additional questions about your trip.

Interviews with U.S. Border Patrol Agents

If you are not sent to Automated Passport Control (APC) at the machine, you will go into dialogue with a border agent. They will ask you concise questions about the reason for your travel and your plans in the United States.

Answer accurately and truthfully, and don't get flustered. If you have difficulty with the English language, tell the border agent, and they will consider it in the interview situation.

Baggage checks/hand luggage

During baggage screening, you must remove personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone from your carry-on luggage and place them in a container that will be cycled through the x-ray machine.

Most travel provisions, such as fruit, granola bars, or sandwiches, are usually allowed to remain in your carry-on luggage. However, be aware of the special guidelines for liquids on flights, which state that only 100 ml or fewer containers are allowed in special bags with a seal.

Import regulations for the USA

U.S. Customs and Border Protection must prevent the import of products that may harm public health, public safety, or native flora and fauna.

Sometimes, harmful products appear much more harmless than they actually are. Therefore, follow the current import regulations closely.

Alcoholic beverages

The amount of alcohol you are allowed to bring into the United States depends on the state you are traveling to. You may also need a license to import. Check with Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) before traveling to find out the laws at your destination state.

Cultural artifacts and cultural items

To import cultural items into the United States, you must have documentation such as export permits and receipts. United States law may also restrict the importation of certain categories of artwork/artifacts/antiques.

Animal Furs

The importation of dog and cat fur and products made from them is prohibited in the United States. Violators of this law face fines of up to $ 10,000 - even for negligence.

Drug equipment

Carrying drug equipment is prohibited in the United States. Exceptions apply for medical purposes such as diabetes with a verifiable prescription from a physician. Violation of this law may result in imprisonment and fines.


Suppose you wish to import firearms or ammunition. In that case, you must use a licensed importer, dealer, or manufacturer and must obtain a permit from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).


Certain wildlife, as well as products made from them, are subject to import restrictions. These include:

  • Wild birds
  • Terrestrial or marine mammals
  • Reptiles
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Mollusks or invertebrates

Parts or products of the above animals, such as hides, tusks, bones, feathers, or eggs, are also subject to strict rules. Before importing, check with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about your specific case.

Food (raw and prepared)

You may bring the following foods into the United States in unopened packages:

  • Chocolate and other candy
  • Baked goods
  • Flour
  • Pasta (without egg)
  • Rice
  • Spices
  • Nuts
  • Dried fruits
  • Vegetable oils
  • Coffee and tea

Bringing the following foods into the United States is prohibited:

  • Meat
  • Fresh dairy products
  • Plants
  • Candy with non-edible items (e.g., "Kinder surprise")
  • Seeds and tubers
  • Meat products such as broth and soup mixes

If you want to import food for commercial purposes, you must submit a pre-notification to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The time frame for FDA pre-notification (depending on the mode of transportation) is two hours by land, four hours by rail or air, eight hours by sea, and "before the time of shipment" by international mail.


Medications that can be legally prescribed in the United States may be imported for personal use. Therefore, when entering the USA, only bring medications or substances that you personally need.

For prescription medications, you must be able to provide a prescription or written statement from your physician verifying the need to bring them. If you need help with questions about importing medications, contact the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

Gifts valued up to $ 100.

Items brought into the United States as gifts (e.g., household items) may be imported up to $ 100 in value.