Exercise normal safety precautions in the United States. Use common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for information on local travel conditions.
Reconsider your need to travel to the US Virgin Islands and the US territory of Puerto Rico. Major damage to buildings and infrastructure has occurred due to Hurricane Maria. See
- The United States Government has implemented enhanced security screening measures for all commercial flights to the United States. See
Entry and exit.
- United States authorities actively pursue, detain and deport people who are in the US illegally.
- Australians travelling on their Australian passport are not affected by the Presidential Proclamation of 24 September 2017, that is intended to suspend or limit the entry of nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen and Somalia into the United States.
- Australians who have travelled to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen since 1 March 2011 must apply for a US visa as they are not eligible to enter under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). See
Entry and exit.
- Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. There is currently a heightened threat of terrorist attack in the United States caused by those motivated by extremists. See
Safety and security.
- The United States has more violent crime than Australia, although it rarely involves tourists. Shootings, including mass shootings can occur in public places. See
Safety and security.
- Many parts of the United States are subject to natural hazards. If you are in affected areas, you should monitor media reports and follow the instructions of local authorities. See
- Transmission of Zika virus has been reported in the United States, in southern Florida and Cameron County, Texas. Check the Australian Government
Department of Health website and the United States
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for further information. See Health.
- Before boarding a US-bound aircraft or vessel, all Australian passport-holders eligible to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) must apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) through the
official ESTA website. See
Entry and exit.
Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
Entry and exit
The United States administers a strict entry regime and you will be refused entry if you do not comply with its entry requirements. The US Government has implemented enhanced security screening measures for all commercial flights to the United States. For further information, visit the
US Department of Homeland Security website and check with your airline for the specific requirements to enable you to travel.
If you are visiting the United States for business or pleasure, you may be eligible to be admitted for up to 90 days under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) (more information below).
To work, study or stay for more than 90 days, you must obtain a visa before travelling.
Australians who are dual citizens of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria are not eligible to enter under the VWP and must apply for a visa.
Changes to entry requirements from 24 September 2017
In September 2017, the United States introduced measures to suspend or limit the entry of nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen into the United States.
Australians travelling on their Australian passport are not affected by these measures.
Australians who have travelled to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen since 1 March 2011 are not eligible to enter the United States under the VWP and must apply for a visa.
The US Secretary of Homeland Security may waive these travel restrictions on a case-by-case basis. Travellers do not need to apply separately for a waiver as an application will be automatically generated by the online Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) questionnaire that all VWP travellers must complete before entering the United States (see below). However, if your ESTA application is denied, you cannot enter under the VWP and you must apply for a visa.
For further information visit the
Embassy of the United States of America in Australia, the
United States Department of State Visa Information or the
United States Customs and Border Protection website. Contact your nearest US Embassy or Consulate for further assistance on visa applications.
If you need to apply for a non-immigrant visa, the United States Visa Information Service for Australia encourages applicants to apply at least three months in advance of the intended date of travel.
Travelling to or from Cuba
If you are living in or travelling to the United States, be aware the United States still enforces restrictions on travel to Cuba.
Travel to Cuba for tourism is not permitted for US citizens, US permanent residents or any person who is subject to US jurisdiction (which can include Australians who live and/or work in the United States).
If you intend to visit the United States after you have been to Cuba, take supporting documents about the purpose of your trip in case you are questioned by immigration officials at the port of entry.
Further details can be found on the
Cuba sanctions page of the US Office of Foreign Assets Control website.
Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA)
All Australian passport holders seeking to visit or transit the United States under the VWP must first apply for an online ESTA. The cost is US$14 and is payable online by credit card. The official site for obtaining an ESTA is
ESTA is a web-based system that determines if visitors are eligible to travel to the United States under the VWP. Travellers who do not have a valid ESTA will be denied boarding, or denied admission at a port of entry if trying to enter by land.
An online ESTA application must be completed for each VWP traveller, including accompanied or unaccompanied children. A third party, such as a relative or travel agent, can submit an ESTA application on behalf of a VWP traveller.
If you intend to travel to the United States under the VWP, apply for an ESTA well in advance of travel so that you have time to apply for a visa if your ESTA application is denied. There is no appeals process if an ESTA is denied so you must then apply for a visa. We recommend that you do not book your travel until your ESTA or visa have been approved.
To apply for an ESTA and to enter the United States under the VWP, you must have a valid current Australian e-Passport with a biometric chip page. All valid current Australian passports (except Emergency Passports, Documents of Identity and Provisional Documents) are e-Passports.
Australian citizens travelling on an Emergency Passport, Document of Identity or Provisional Travel Document cannot enter the United States under the VWP. Holders of these documents must obtain a US visa. If a visa is not obtained, you will need to find alternative routes that avoid the United States.
Provide accurate and current travel document details to your airline or cruise line prior to travel. If you obtain a new passport, you must apply for a new ESTA. Discrepancies between ESTA, ticket information and passport details will likely result in denial of entry or being referred for secondary inspection by an immigration official, which may take several hours. You can also be referred for secondary inspection and experience delays if you have been issued a new passport and have not updated your frequent flyer account with the new passport number.
Australians travelling to the United States under the VWP must have an onward or return ticket. If departing the United States by a different method, such as motor vehicle or cruise ship, contact the
United States Customs and Border Protection for more information.
You will need to provide a valid address in the United States when you check in for your flight including a five-digit zip code (postcode).
Admission (I-94) Record Number
Every traveller entering the United States is issued an electronic or hard copy I-94 Record Number.
The I-94 is your proof of legal status and you can only stay in the United States legally until the date of expiry of your I-94. If you stay beyond the date of your I-94, you can be arrested, deported and likely barred from re-entering the United States in future. Check your I-94 details each time you enter the Unites States to ensure the I-94 information is consistent with your passport and visa information. You can check your I-94 record on the United States Customs and Border Protection website.To correct an I-94 error, you will have to contact and visit a CBP Deferred Inspection Site.
You cannot renew your I-94 entry by travelling to Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands in North America. If you enter the United States under the VWP, travel to another country in North America, then try to re-enter the United States, you will not be issued a new I-94 entry. Your second entry into the United States will be linked to your first I-94 entry and you must still depart the United States by the expiry date of the first I-94 entry.
If you were issued a hard copy I-94 in your passport, surrender it to the airline or ship staff when departing the United States. Information on what to do if you were issued a hard copy but did not hand in your Form I-94 when departing the United States can be found on the
United States Customs and Border Protection website.
Other entry and exit information
Australians with a criminal record (regardless of how minor the offence or how long ago it took place) should seek advice from their nearest US Embassy or Consulate about visa requirements for entering or transiting the United States.
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest
Embassy or Consulate of the United States for current information.
For up-to-date visa information, you can also visit the following US Government websites:
Most visitors to the United States are required to have their fingerprints scanned and digital photographs taken on arrival.
Where children are travelling alone, or with one parent/guardian, carry a Notarised letter of consent for travel signed by the non-travelling parent(s) or guardian. For more information on travelling with children in the United States, see the
United States Customs and Border Protection website.
The United States does not require your Australian passport to be valid for six months beyond your intended date of departure from the United States, but your passport must be valid for your intended period of stay.
The United States has specific requirements regarding locks used on airline baggage. See the
Transportation Security Administration website for further details.
Safety and security
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. There is currently a heightened threat of terrorist attack in the United States.
There have been numerous politically motivated attacks in the United States in recent years including:
- In October 2017, a vehicle attack near the World Trade Center in New York left 8 people dead and at least 13 injured.
- In September 2016, a bombing in the Chelsea neighbourhood of New York City injured 29 people.
- In September 2016, a knife attack in a mall in Saint Cloud, Minnesota injured 9 people.
- In June 2016, a nightclub attack in Orlando, Florida, killed 49 people and injured 53 others.
- In December 2015, a shooting in San Bernardino, California killed 14 people and injured a further 23.
The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), issues regular terrorist-related updates through its
National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) bulletin. The latest bulletin advises that terrorist groups are using the internet to inspire, enable or direct individuals already in the Unites States to commit terrorist acts and that terrorist groups are urging recruits to adopt easy-to-use tools (such as vehicles, knives, homemade explosives and poisons or toxins) to target public places and events. The Bulletin provides advice and information on United States Government counter-terrorism efforts and on what members of the public can do to help combat the threat of home grown terrorist incidents.
Further information on safety and security is available from the following US government agencies:
Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin.
The United States has a higher level of violent crime than Australia, although violent crime rarely involves tourists. The latest official crime statistics can be found on the
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) website. These statistics show that metropolitan areas and cities tend to have higher crime and murder rates. Other resources on murder rates can be found on the
Global Study on Homicide website.
We do not update this advice for individual incidents, such as mass shootings or active shooter events unless there is a significant risk to Australian travellers.
Be alert about the possibility of gun crime in all parts of the United States. No matter where you intend to travel, do some research on which local areas or suburbs may be less safe – check travel guides and seek local advice such as from your hotel reception or tour guide. For those living in the United States, familiarise yourself with emergency evacuation and 'active shooter' drills.
Be aware that it can be legal in many states for US citizens to openly carry firearms in public.
Information and advice provided by US authorities on what to do if you are caught in an active shooter incident can be found on the
Department of Homeland Security website.
Be aware that tourists are often targeted for petty crimes such as pick-pocketing and theft, particularly on public transport. Ensure that valuable items are not on public display or left in motor vehicles unattended, including in the boot. Rental cars are easily identifiable and are regularly targeted by thieves.
Since violent protests in Ferguson, Missouri in August 2014, high-profile police shootings of African Americans continue to spark protests in US cities. While mostly peaceful, these protests can turn violent.
Avoid locations where protests and demonstrations are taking place. Observe any restrictions on movements or curfews set by local authorities, and monitor the media for the latest developments.
Money and valuables
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to
report a lost or stolen passport online or contact the nearest
Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
Thieves target rental cars which they can easily identify. Do not leave ANY valuable possessions or documents either inside or in the boot of an unattended vehicle.
Figures compiled by the
World Health Organization for 2013 and by the
Australian Government's Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development for 2014 suggest you are almost twice as likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in the United States as you are in Australia.
The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the
Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in the United States.
Refer to our
air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.
You are subject to local laws of the United States, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards (for example, you can be fined and/or arrested for being in public places such as parks or beaches after dark, or for not crossing roads at pedestrian crossings). If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our
Consular Services Charter, but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
The Federal legal age for purchasing and drinking alcohol in the United States is 21. However, laws on the minimum drinking age and underage consumption can be determined by individual states and can vary considerably from state to state. If you are under 21 years of age, check the relevant state laws before drinking alcohol.
Penalties for drug-related offences are severe and provide for minimum mandatory sentences. See our
Some medications that can be purchased without a prescription in Australia may require a prescription in the United States and you can be arrested for possessing medications for which you do not have a prescription. Information on prohibited and restricted items, including medications, is available on the
United States Customs and Border Protection website. See also the Smartraveller
Travelling with prescription medications page.
LGBTI travellers should be aware that they may be affected by legislation passed in North Carolina and Mississippi. More information can be found on the website of the US Human Rights Campaign and on our
US authorities actively pursue, detain and deport persons who are in the United States illegally. It is becoming more common for Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to conduct random checks of travel documents including passports, visas and I-94 entries without warning and on a random basis, including on public transport.
Australians visiting the United States for commissioning commercial surrogacy arrangements should seek independent legal advice before doing so. See our
Overseas birth, adoption and surrogacy page for further information.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Information for dual nationals
The United States recognises dual nationality. Dual nationals are required by United States law to travel with both passports and to use their United States passport to enter and exit the United States and its territories.
Dual nationals page provides further information.
Before travelling overseas, dual Australian/United States citizens should also consult travel information provided on the United States Department of State's
Bureau of Consular Affairs website.
Take out comprehensive
travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart Australia. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you will be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Note that travel insurance companies may not cover you for pre-existing medical conditions so take this into account before travelling as you may be liable for payment of any overseas treatment required for pre-existing medical conditions. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. The Australian Embassy and Consulates-General cannot assist with medical expenses.
It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. Get vaccinated before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. If you are visiting areas with warmer climates, take measures to avoid mosquito-borne diseases, including using an appropriate strong insect repellent and wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing. The
World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our
health pages also provide useful information for travellers on staying healthy.
The standard of medical facilities and care in the United States is comparable to Australia. Medical costs in the United States are extremely high. A visit to a doctor for even minor complaints can cost several hundred dollars, excluding laboratory tests or medication costs. In the absence of accepted health insurance (or proof of ability to pay), payment would generally be required up front.
Zika virus: Transmission of Zika virus has been reported in the United States, in southern Florida and Cameron County, Texas. Check the Australian Government
Department of Health website for information regarding affected areas. Travellers can obtain the latest information regarding affected areas in the United States from the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. All travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bites. The Australian Department of Health advises pregnant women to discuss any travel plans with their doctor and defer non-essential travel to affected areas. Further advice for both females and males is available from the
Department of Health. See our
travel bulletin on Zika virus.
The latest information on health issues, communicable diseases and preventative measures that are applicable to the United States is available from the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and their
Health Information for Travelers to the United States.
Where to get help
Depending on your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
The national emergency number in the United States is 911. Always obtain a police report when reporting a crime.
If the matter relates to complaints about tourism services or products, contact the service provider directly.
Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can't do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, contact the nearest Australian Embassy or Consulate-General. See details below.
Australian Embassy, Washington, DC
If you are in Alabama, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia or West Virginia, you should contact the Australian Embassy in Washington DC.
1601 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20036-2273
Telephone: +1 202 797 3000
Facsimile: +1 202 797 3331
Australian Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
Australian Consulate-General, Chicago
If you are in Indiana, Kansas, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota or Wisconsin, contact the Consulate-General in Chicago.
123 North Wacker Drive, Suite 1330
Chicago, Illinois 60606
Telephone: +1 312 419 1480
Facsimile: +1 312 419 1499
Consulate-General webpage for more information.
Australian Consulate-General, Honolulu
If you are in Hawaii, contact the Consulate General in Honolulu.
Penthouse, 1000 Bishop Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Telephone: +1 808 529 8100
Facsimile: +1 808 529 8142
Consulate-General webpage for more information.
Australian Consulate-General, Houston
If you are in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma or Texas, contact the Consulate-General in Houston.
3009 Post Oak Blvd, Suite 1310
Houston, Texas 77056
Telephone: +1 832 962 8420
Facsimile: +1 832 831 2022
Consulate-General webpage for more details.
Australian Consulate-General, Los Angeles
If you are in Alaska, Arizona, Southern California, Colorado, New Mexico, southern Nevada or Utah, contact the Consulate-General in Los Angeles.
2029 Century Park East, 31st Floor
Los Angeles, California 90067
Telephone: +1 310 229 2300
Facsimile: +1 310 299 2380
Consulate-General webpage for details.
Australian Consulate-General, New York
If you are in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands of the United States, contact the Consulate-General in New York city.
150 East 42nd Street, 34th Floor
New York, New York 10017-5612
Telephone: +1 212 351 6500
Facsimile: +1 212 351 6501
Consulate-General webpage for details.
Australian Consulate-General, San Francisco
If you are in Northern California, Idaho, Montana, northern Nevada, Oregon, Washington State or Wyoming, contact the Consulate-General in San Francisco.
575 Market Street, Suite 1800
San Francisco, California 94105
Telephone: +1 415 644 3620
Facsimile: +1 415 536 1982
Consulate-General webpage for details.
In a consular emergency, and if you are unable to contact the Embassy or relevant Consulate-General in the United States, you can contact the 7 day 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
Many parts of the United States are subject to natural hazards, including earthquakes, wildfires, floods, extreme heat, hurricanes, landslides, tornadoes, tsunamis, volcanoes (Hawaii, Alaska and Pacific Northwest), winter storms (freezing rain, heavy snow and blizzards) and extreme cold. Information on declared disasters by state, and what to do before, during and after each of these events is available from the
Federal Emergency Management Agency. If you are in areas affected by natural hazards, you should monitor media reports and follow the instructions of local authorities. Mandatory evacuation orders are issued on occasion and apply to everyone, including Australians.
Severe weather and hurricanes
Severe hurricanes occur in the Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coastal regions of the United States. During the hurricane season (June to November), landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services may also occur. Further information and updates on hurricanes can be obtained from the
National Hurricane Center and the
Federal Emergency Management Agency. If you are travelling during the hurricane season, monitor these websites and the website of the state government of the state in which you are travelling.
The direction and strength of hurricanes can change with little warning. Television and radio services provide extensive advice from local, state and federal authorities. In the event of an approaching hurricane, identify your local shelter. Flights in and out of affected areas could be delayed or suspended. Contact your airline for the latest flight information. The hurricane could also affect access to sea ports in the region. In some areas, adequate shelter from a severe hurricane may not be available to all who choose to stay. Familiarise yourself with your hotel or cruise ship evacuation plans.
Wildfires occur frequently in the United States. General information on wildfires in the United States is available at the
US National Interagency Fire Center website.
All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches.
If you are considering travel to areas affected by natural disasters and severe weather events give careful thought to the possible dangers and inconveniences. If you plan to travel to a region after an event, contact your airline, rail or bus operator to ensure your transport service is still operating. Contact the place where you intend to stay for information on local conditions. Information on weather conditions and any weather alerts issued by local authorities can be found on the
National Weather Service website by clicking the link to the relevant state(s).
If you are in an area affected by severe weather, carry your important documents at all times in a zip-lock bag (i.e. passport, driver licence, airline ticket information, credit and debit cards, traveller's cheques and cash, etc.) or secure them in a safe, waterproof location. Contact friends and family in Australia with updates about your welfare and whereabouts. For further information, see our
Severe weather page.
If you are caught in a disaster, register that you are safe and well at the nearest Australian mission (see the
Where to get help section) or on the Red Cross
Safe and Well website so your family and friends can review the site and confirm your safety.
If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.