USA visa requirements
When travelling to, from, within or over the USA there are a number of necessary requirements and documents you must complete before travelling.
On this page
A quick guide for travel to, from, within or over the USA
Step 1: Book your flight.
Step 2: Provide your Advance Passenger Information and Secure Flight Passenger Data through manage booking before we can issue your tickets. This information is mandatory for travel to the USA.
Step 3: Your tickets will be issued once this information has been received.
Step 4: You'll require an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) or visa to travel to the USA. Please check your requirements. If you're eligible for an ESTA, you can apply at the US Customs and Border Protection ESTA websiteOpens in a new tab or window no later than 72 hours before departing for the USA - real time authorisations are no longer available.
Step 5: On the day of travel, you will be required to complete pre-departure security requirements at the airport. This additional screening is a new step in the process and has been introduced by the US Government Transportation Security AdministrationOpens in a new tab or window for all flights to the USA.
- If your travel commences at Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney International Airports, these additional requirements will take place in the check-in zone, where possible.
- Passengers connecting to USA flights in Brisbane or Melbourne: please make your way directly to the Service Desk at your flight’s departure gate.
- Passengers connecting to USA flights in Sydney:
- if you’re arriving into Sydney Domestic Airport, please make your way directly to the Transfer Lounge at Gate 15.
- if you're arriving into Sydney International Airport, please make your way directly to your flight’s departure gate.
For Jetstar USA flight information visit Jetstar.comOpens in a new tab or window
Secure Flight and Advance Passenger Information Programs
For travel to, from, within or over the USA you must provide passenger information required by the US authorities under the Secure Flight and Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) programs.
The following information is mandatory:
- each passenger's full name exactly as it appears on the passenger's travel document
- date of birth
- passport number
- country of passport issue
- Alien registration number (where applicable)
- destination address in the USA (not required for US citizens and permanent residents) and country of residence for flights arriving into the USA
- redress number(if applicable).
You must supply this information to us or your travel agent at the time of booking. You can provide this information on manage booking
What is the Secure Flight Program?
Secure Flight enables pre-screening of passenger information against USA Federal Government watch lists. Watch list matching applies to all domestic and international passengers travelling on flights into, out of, within, or over the USA. The stated objectives of the program are to:
- identify known and suspected terrorists;
- prevent individuals on the No Fly List (and in some circumstances, other watch lists maintained by the USA Federal Government) from boarding an aircraft to the USA;
- identify individuals on the Selectee List for enhanced screening to determine if they are permitted to board an aircraft;
- facilitate passenger air travel by allowing cleared passengers to continue with their travel to the USA; and
- protect individuals' privacy.
What happens to the Secure Flight information?
The airline must receive clearance from the Transport Security Administration (TSA) for every passenger before that passenger is allowed to board a flight to, from, within or over the USA.
To obtain Secure Flight clearance, the airline must send the passenger's name, date of birth, gender and redress number (if applicable) to the TSA at least 72 hours prior to flight departure. The TSA is a division of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and is responsible for the matching process.
The TSA has provided the following Privacy Notice for passengers: "The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires you to provide your full name, date of birth, and gender for the purpose of watch list screening, under the authority of 49 U.S.C. section 114, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 and 49 C.F.R parts 1540 and 1560. You may also provide your Redress Number, if available. Failure to provide your full name, date of birth, and gender may result in denial of transport or denial of authority to enter the boarding area. The TSA may share information you provide with law enforcement or intelligence agencies or others under its published system of records notice. For more on TSA privacy policies, or to review the system of records notice and the privacy impact assessment, please visit Transport Security Administration.Opens in a new tab or window"
What happens if I fail to provide this information?
If you have not provided your full name, date of birth and gender, your tickets will not be issued. The passport details and destination address for each passenger is also required at the time of booking on qantas.com If you have not provided all of this information, you may be disrupted during check-in and you may not be able to board your flight.
Does Secure Flight replace the Advance Passenger Information System?
The Secure Flight Program does not replace the APIS requirement. In addition to the information provided to the TSA, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requires carriers to submit passenger passport details, alien registration number (where applicable) and for flights arriving into the USA, country of residence details and address details in the USA (not required for US citizens and permanent residents). The carrier will not permit a passenger to board a flight to the USA unless CBP clearance has been received.
Both Secure Flight and APIS information can be provided on manage booking
For further information about APIS, visit CBPOpens in a new tab or window (USA Customs and Border Protection).
Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) - part of the Visa Waiver Program, within or over the USA
It's mandatory for all eligible nationals who plan to travel to the USA under the Visa Waiver ProgramOpens in a new tab or window to obtain an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) at least 72 hours before travel to the USA.
An ESTA is only available from the US Customs and Border Protection ESTA websiteOpens in a new tab or window You'll be asked to answer basic eligibility questions and you will usually be advised within 72 hours if your travel is authorised under the Visa Waiver Program. Real time approvals are no longer be available.
Note: The US Government has advised that ESTA applications are subject to a fee and is valid for two years or expiry date of passport (if less than two years).
To be eligible for an ESTA:
- You must have a machine-readable passport issued by one of the participating countriesOpens in a new tab or window, and
- if your passport has been issued on or after 26 October 2006, your passport must be an 'e-passport'.
What if I fail to obtain an ESTA?
You will not be permitted to board a flight to the USA.
If you do not obtain an ESTA and you are not a US citizen or permanent resident, you will need to obtain a visa from a US Embassy or Consulate in advance of your travel. Please allow sufficient time for the US authorities to process your visa application.
For more information visit US Department of StateOpens in a new tab or window
- Accompanied and unaccompanied children, regardless of age, are required to obtain an independent ESTA approval.
- If you are required to obtain a visa, or you already have one, you are not required to apply for an ESTA.
- To find out more about the ESTA program refer to the US Customs and Border Protection ESTA websiteOpens in a new tab or window
Transit without visa and US visit programs
Transit without visa
The US Department of Homeland Security and the US Department of State have suspended the special international in-transit programs. For more information visit US Department of StateOpens in a new tab or window
The US Government introduced a mandatory program called US-VISIT, which is aimed at enhancing the security of the USA while expediting legitimate travel and trade. US-VISIT requirements are:
- Anyone who requires a visa to travel to the USA will be fingerprinted (both index fingers scanned using an inkless device) and have a digital photograph taken on arrival into the USA.
- Anyone travelling to the USA on the Visa Waiver Program will also be fingerprinted and have a digital photograph taken upon arrival in the USA.
What if I fail to submit to fingerprinting?
Now available at US Airports
From 17 December 2019, Qantas customers enrolled in a US trusted traveller program will be able to utilise TSA PreCheck at US airports.
TSA PreCheck is a US government program that allows travellers regarded as low risk by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a US Department of Homeland Security agency, to pass through expedited security screening at participating US airport locations.
With TSA Precheck on the boarding pass, customers pass through security without removing:
- Liquids and gels from carry-on
- Laptop from bag
- Light outerwear/jacket
TSA PreCheck lanes move twice as fast as standard lanes. Also, travellers with a TSA PreCheck boarding pass may bring children 12 years old and younger with them into the TSA Precheck lane.
To use TSA PreCheck, Qantas customers who are US trusted traveller program members can add their Known Traveller Number (KTN) to their reservations. When checking in for flights, customers should see the visible TSA PreCheck indicator on their boarding passes.
US citizens and lawful permanent residents may apply for TSA PreCheck. TSA PreCheck access is also available to customers who have enrolled in a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Trusted Traveller program, including:
- Global Entry – all members
- SENTRI members who are US Citizens or lawful permanent residents
- NEXUS members who are US Citizens or lawful permanent residents, and Canadian citizens.
TSA PreCheck is not available upon arrival into Australia. For more information, visit TSA Precheck FAQsOpens in a new tab or window