Los Angeles, an iconic city on the west coast of the USA, is a popular tourist destination for many travellers. However, before you plan your trip, it's important to understand the visa requirements and paperwork needed to travel to Los Angeles from the UK. On this page, we will explain whether you need a visa to travel to Los Angeles from the UK and how to obtain ESTA, the electronic travel authorisation, if required. We will also provide you with information on the documents needed to enter Los Angeles and the restrictions associated with the ESTA.
Is a visa required for travel to Los Angeles, California?
If you are a British national, you are visa-free to travel to Los Angeles in the USA for up to 90 days. However, there are certain requirements and paperwork that you must complete before you leave.
Under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP), nationals of certain countries, including the UK, can travel to the US without a visa for up to 90 days. This means that you do not need to apply for a B1/B2 visa for a tourist or business trip to Los Angeles if you are a UK citizen. However, it is important to note that even if you are visa exempt, you must complete certain paperwork before you leave.
To travel to Los Angeles without a visa, you must obtain an ESTA, which is an electronic travel authorisation. The ESTA is valid for two years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.
To be eligible for ESTA, you must meet certain criteria, including
- Have a valid passport for the duration of your stay in Los Angeles
- Be a citizen of a VWP country, including the UK
- Not have been convicted of a serious crime or refused entry to the United States before
As a reminder, the ESTA is an electronic travel authorisation that allows citizens of certain countries, including the UK, to travel to the US without a visa for up to 90 days. It is important to note that the ESTA does not replace a visa. If you plan to stay in the US for more than 90 days or for reasons other than tourism or business, you must apply for a B1/B2 visa.
Of course, if you are not eligible for an ESTA, you will need to apply for a regular tourist visa to travel to California, in Los Angeles. For this, you will need to apply to the American embassy or consulate in your country of residence and follow a longer procedure.
How do you get an ESTA to travel to Los Angeles, California if you are visa exempt?
Now that you know you are visa-exempt to travel to Los Angeles, here are the steps to obtain your ESTA:
- Access the US government's ESTA website and fill out the online application form. You can also choose a private site with online help and a simplified form like the one we recommend on this page. The form includes questions about your identity, travel history and criminal background.
- Check the information you have provided carefully before submitting your application. Any errors or omissions may result in your application being rejected.
- Pay the ESTA application fee. The fee is currently $21 per person, regardless of whether your application is accepted or not.
- Wait for a response to your application. Most applications are approved within minutes of submission, but it can take up to 72 hours. If your application is refused, you will need to apply for a B1/B2 visa to travel to Los Angeles.
As you can see, the online ESTA application process is extremely quick and easy. To apply for an ESTA, you will need certain documents, including
The cost of the ESTA varies from site to site and applies whether your application is approved or denied. It is important to note that the fee is not refundable, even if your application is refused. If you need to amend or update your ESTA application, you will also have to pay the fee again. Please note that the fee must be paid by credit card on a secure server and is essential for the processing of your application.
Entry formalities in Los Angeles, California for a British national
As a reminder, if you wish to travel to California and visit Los Angeles, the following documents will need to be presented on arrival from the airport.
When you arrive at Los Angeles airport, you will need to present the following documents:
- Your valid passport: This must also be valid for a minimum of 6 months after your arrival date in the country.
- Your approved ESTA: This will be automatically attached to your passport once approved. You therefore do not need to print it out or present it in paper format when you arrive. An initial check of your passport and therefore of your ESTA will be carried out before you board.
Make sure you keep these documents at hand during your trip.
Who is eligible for the Los Angeles, California ESTA visa waiver?
It is important to note that the ESTA is only valid for business or tourism travel. If you plan to work or study in the United States, you will need to obtain an appropriate visa. In addition, if you have travelled to certain countries, such as Iran, Syria, Sudan or North Korea, you may be subject to additional restrictions on travel to the US, even if you have obtained the ESTA.
In conclusion, if you are a British citizen, you can travel to Los Angeles without a visa for up to 90 days by obtaining ESTA. The ESTA is easy to obtain online, but it is important to ensure that you meet all the eligibility criteria and provide all the necessary documents. Once you arrive in Los Angeles, make sure you have your documents to hand and that you comply with the ESTA restrictions. If you have any questions or concerns regarding visa requirements or ESTA, please do not hesitate to contact the relevant authorities for further assistance and information.