• Visa and passport requirements change often; double-check before you come.
  • For current info, check the visa section of the US Department of State (http://travel.state.gov) and the US Customs & Border Protection (www.cbp.gov/travel).
  • Travelers who don’t qualify for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) must apply for a tourist visa. The process of applying for a tourist visa is not free, involves a personal interview and can take several weeks, so apply early.
  • Upon arrival, most foreign visitors must register with the US-Visit program (www.dhs.gov/us-visit), which entails having electronic (inkless) fingerprints and a digital photo taken; the process usually takes less than a minute.

Customs Regulations

Currently, each international visitor is allowed to bring the following into the USA duty-free:

  • 1L of liquor (if you’re over 21 years old)
  • 200 cigarettes (one carton) if you’re over 18.
  • Amounts higher than $10,000 in cash, traveler’s checks, money orders and other cash equivalents must be declared. For more information, check with US Customs and Border Protection (www.cbp.gov).
  • Most fresh fruits and plants are restricted from entry into Hawaii (to prevent the spread of invasive species). At Honolulu’s airport, customs officials strictly enforce both import and export regulations. Because Hawaii is a rabies-free state, pet quarantine laws are draconian. Questions? Contact the Hawaiian Department of Agriculture (http://hawaii.gov/hdoa).

Agricultural Inspection

All checked and carry-on bags leaving Hawaii for the US mainland must be checked by an agricultural inspector using an X-ray machine. You cannot take out gardenia, jade vine or Mauna Loa anthurium, even in lei, although most other fresh flowers and foliage are permitted. With the exceptions of pineapples and coconuts, most fresh fruit and vegetables are banned. Also not allowed to enter mainland states are plants in soil, fresh coffee berries (roasted beans are OK), cactus and sugarcane. For more information, go online to http://hawaii.gov/hdoa.


  • A machine-readable passport is required for all foreign citizens to enter Hawaii.
  • Passports must be valid for six months beyond expected dates of stay in the USA.
  • Any passport issued or renewed after October 26, 2006, must be an ‘e-passport’ with a digital photo and an integrated biometric data chip.


For Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries, visas are not required for stays of less than 90 days.

Further Information

  • For Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries, visas are not required for stays of less than 90 days. To see which countries are VWP countries, visit https://travel.state.gov.
  • Under the VWP you must have a return ticket (or onward ticket to any foreign destination) that is nonrefundable in the USA. All VWP travelers must register online at least 72 hours before arrival with the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA; https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/), which currently costs $14.
  • Registration is valid for two years.