Travelling from / to the United States
Important information if you are travelling to/from the United StatesRequest Travel Authorization - ESTA
Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)
As of 12 January 2009, passengers exempt from visas wishing to travel to the United States must apply for electronic travel authorisation from the Electronic System for Travel Authorization.
Visa waiver programme
Passengers travelling to the United States for tourism or business purposes for 90 days or less do not need a visa if they are nationals of one of the following countries: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark , Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom (British citizens only with the unrestricted right of permanent abode in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man).
For further information go to the website U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
ESTA - Electronic System for Travel Authorization
If you hold a passport from one of these countries issued after 2001, you will have to apply for electronic authorisation to travel to the United States from the Electronic System for Travel Authorization. As of 12 January 2009, travellers who do not need visas but who do not apply for travel authorisation from the ESTA system may be denied entry into the country and may be returned to their point of origin.
To obtain this authorisation, you must complete a form on the ESTA website. The application system on the web page will ask you basic questions about personal details and eligibility, the same questions which are listed on the I-94W paper form. No additional information is required.
Authorisation must be requested and obtained up to three days prior to travel. If you prefer to be more cautious, the best option is to obtain authorisation before you book your trip. Starting 20 March 2010, airlines carrying passengers to the USA who have not applied for this travel authorisation will also be penalised. As a result, as of that date TAP reserves the right to refuse to allow passengers to board until they have completed the necessary formalities.
Go to the ESTA webpage and complete the form. The system will ask for identification details similar to those on the forms you fill in before disembarking at US ports or airports.
As soon as your travel has been authorised, print the document. Keep it with your passport and show it on request when leaving Portugal or at US border control. If the system replies ‘Travel not authorised’, you will have to apply for a non-immigrant visa at the nearest consulate or the US Embassy in Lisbon.
If the system replies 'Authorization pending’, you will have to check the website for updates within 72 hours to receive a final response.
These authorisations are valid for two years as of the date of issue and can be used for more than one entry into the United States. It is not necessary to apply for new authorisation within the period. If your passport expires, you will need to apply for a new authorisation.
For more detailed information please go to:
Mandatory information for arrivals or departures to the United States
For reasons beyond TAP's control resulting exclusively from legal requirements imposed by the United States authorities, all passengers travelling to the United States must provide the following information when booking:
- Full name (or as much as permitted by the character limit)
- Date of birth
- Number and expiry date of passport or ID document
- Redress number, if available
The first three items are absolutely compulsory.
As of 1 November 2010, airlines are obliged to send this information to the United States authorities up to seventy-two (72) hours before departure, otherwise bookings will be cancelled, even if the tickets have already been issued.
TAP hopes that all affected passengers will understand and meet these requirements in good time, so that we can guarantee our usual quality of service to our passengers.
Access to Passenger Details
United States law requires all airlines operating flights to, from or within the USA to provide the Department of Homeland Security, which is in charge of the United States Customs and Border Protection service, with access to certain information about its passengers in order to prevent and combat terrorism and other serious criminal offences. TAP complies with this legal requirement. Passengers must be aware of the following information provided by Customs and Border Protection:
Passenger information - What kind of information is given?
The United States Customs and Border Protection has access to certain details about the booking and itinerary (PNR) of passengers travelling to, from or through the United States.
This information comprises electronic records in the booking and check-in system used by airlines for each itinerary booked by a passenger. It contains details such as:
- the passenger's name
- phone or other contact information
- details about their travel itinerary (date, origin, destination, seat number, baggage, etc)
- details of the booking (travel agency and the means of payment).
- The Passenger Name Record (PNR) may also include any information that the passenger may have given during the booking process, such as a hotel reservation.
The Customs and Border Protection will not use data considered 'sensitive' in the booking. This type of data may include information making it possible to identify the passenger's racial or ethnic origin, religion, political convictions or health status. Information on food preferences or required medical services may be used.
Authorities and goals - Who can access, store and use the data about my booking and what will they be used for?
The United States Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection may access the Passenger Name Record (PNR) and use these data to prevent and combat terrorism and other serious criminal offences.
Under United States law, booking data cannot be disclosed. On a case-by-case basis, data may be passed on to other government law-enforcement and anti-terrorism authorities in order to prevent and combat terrorism and other serious criminal offences.
Booking data may also, if necessary, be used to protect the vital interests of passengers or third parties (e.g. in the event of a public health emergency) or in the prosecution of criminal acts and judicial proceedings or others required by law.
Data processing - How is my Passenger Name Record used?
In general, passenger name records will be obtained directly from the airline's booking and check-in system by United States Customs and Border Protection and analysed before the passengers arrive in order to facilitate the admission of bona fide travellers and to determine whether any passenger poses a possible threat, as described above. The data will be stored by Customs and Border Protection for three years and six months, unless it has accessed them manually during the period. In this case, the data will be kept in hard copy form for the next eight years for auditing.
United States Customs and Border Protection may, if appropriate, take other technical and organisational measures to prevent unauthorised use of these data.
Passenger rights - What are my rights?
Passengers may request a copy of their Passenger Name Record in the Customs and Border Protection database. It may, however, refuse or delay the provision of the data wholly or in part in certain circumstances:
- if there is reason to believe that this may interfere with compliance with the law
- disclose judicial investigation techniques or proceedings
Under United States law, refusal to disclose a Passenger Name Record by Customs and Border Protection may be subject to legal action.
Passengers may ask for their Passenger Name Record on file at Customs and Border Protection to be corrected if it deems their correction appropriate and justified.
Access to booking details
- If you wish to access your Passenger Name Record at Customs and Border Protection you may send your request in a letter addressed to:
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20229
or submit your request to:
Disclosure Law Officer, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
- For further information about the procedures for making this request, please see Section 103.5 of title 19 of the United States Code of Federal Regulations.
- Written requests for correction and complaints about use of the Passenger Name Records may be sent to:
U.S. CBP's Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20229.
The decisions made by Customs and Border Protection may be revised by the head of the Privacy Department of the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, DC 20528.
Passengers may send requests for revision to the data protection authority in an EU country if they do not feel that they have received a satisfactory answer from the United States authorities.