Content

Traveling to the USA - Preparing your documents

Traveling to the USA

See the conditions for travel to and from the USA. See how you can get authorization and all the necessary documents.

Passengers traveling to the United States who are exempt from visa requirements need to apply for a travel authorization. 

Find out how the visa waiver program works, how to proceed and where you can request exemption

We warn you that without this authorization (or a visa), you will not be allowed to enter the country.

Visa waiver program

Passengers traveling 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 Japan
Australia Latvia
Austria Liechtenstein
Belgium Lithuania
Brunei Luxembourg
Chile Malta
Czech Republic Monaco
Denmark New Zealand
Estonia Norway
Finland Portugal
France Republic of Korea
Germany San Marino
Greece Singapore
Holland Slovakia
Hungary Spain
Iceland Sweden
Ireland Switzerland
Italy United Kingdom*

*British citizens only without permanent residence restrictions in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

For more information on Visa Exemption visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website

Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)

If you have a passport from one of these countries that was issued after 2001, you must use the Electronic System for Travel Authorization to apply for an electronic authorization whenever you travel to the United States of America.

To obtain the authorization, just go the website and complete the form. This process must be carried out at least three days prior to traveling. However, to prevent any possible setbacks, you can request this authorization before you make your flight reservation.

Since 20 March 2010, airlines that allow passengers to travel to the USA without authorization have also been penalized.
TAP reserves the right, as of that date, to refuse to allow passengers to board unless they have completed the necessary formalities.

Procedure

  1. Enter the site of the electronic travel Authorization System and fill in the basic form of identification.
  2. You must show it on request when  leaving Portugal and at US border control.
  3. If the system replies “Travel not authorized”, you will have to apply for a non-immigrant visa at the nearest US consulate or the US Embassy in Lisbon.
  4. If the system replies "Pending authorization" you must return to the website 72 hours later to get the final answer.
  5. These authorizations are valid for 2 years from the date they are obtained and for multiple entries into the USA. If your passport expires, you must request a new authorization.

 

More information at:

United States Embassy in Portugal-visas for the U.S.

Government of the U.S. visa waiver program

Required information

For legal reasons, all passengers traveling to the USA must provide the following information when making their reservation:

  • Full name
  • Gender
  • Date of birth
  • Number and expiry date of passport or ID document
  • Redress number, if available

The first 3 items are absolutely compulsory.

Airlines are required to send this information to the United States authorities up to seventy-two (72) hours prior to departure of the flight or they may have to cancel reservations, even if the tickets have been issued.

TAP thanks all its passengers for their understanding and help in meeting these requirements on a timely basis and ensuring the quality of our service.

Access to passenger information

See how the data passengers provide is handled. 

Questions regarding access to passenger data

US law requires all airlines operating flights to, from or within the USA to provide the department in charge of the United States Customs and Border Protection service with electronic access to all passenger data in order to prevent and combat terrorism as well as other criminal offenses considered to be serious.

TAP complies with this legal requirement.

The data provided

The United States Customs and Border Protection has access to information about the reservation and itinerary (PNR) of passengers traveling to, from or through the United States, including:

  • passenger name
  • phone number or other contact information
  • details of the travel itinerary (date, origin, destination, seat number, baggage)
  • records and information provided during the reservation process
The US Customs and Border Protection will not use reservation data considered “sensitive”, such as:

  • racial or ethnic identification
  • religious or political choices
  • health information
Information on the passenger’s food preferences or any medical services requested can be used.

Who has access to your reservation details and for what purpose?

The department responsible for Customs and Border Protection has access to the reservation records (Passenger Name Record - PNR) and uses the data to prevent and combat terrorism and other serious criminal offenses.

Under United States law, reservation data cannot be disclosed. However, this data is analyzed on a case-by-case basis and information may be passed on to other government law enforcement and anti-terrorism agencies.

Reservation data may also 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 or other proceedings required by law.

Reservation data

Passenger name records are obtained by United States Customs and Border Control directly from the airline’s reservation and check-in system. The records are analyzed before the passengers arrive in order to determine whether any of the them poses a possible threat.

Furthermore, the details are stored by the US Customs and Border Protection for three years and six months. If the Department accesses the data manually during that period, the data will be kept in hard copy form for the next eight years for auditing purposes.

The United States Customs and Border Protection may take other technical and organizational measures to prevent misuse of these data.

Passenger rights

  • Passengers may request a copy of their reservation records from the Customs and Border Protection’s database.
  • However, if there are indications that this may interfere with enforcement of the law or reveal legal investigative techniques and procedures, access to the records will not be possible.
  • Refusal by the Customs and Border Protection to disclose reservations records is subject to legal action.
  • Passengers may ask for their data held on file by the US Customs and Border Protection to be amended if the agency believes such correction to be appropriate and justified.

Access to reservation records

Find out how you can access your reservation records, request corrections or file a complaint

If you wish to access your reservation records held by the US Customs and Border Protection you may send your request by letter, addressed to:

  • Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request 
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection 
  • 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20229

An alternative address is: 

  • Disclosure Law Officer, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

For further information about procedures for making this request, please see Title 19, Section 103.5 of the United States Code of Federal Regulations.

 
Written requests for corrections and complaints about the use of reservation records (Passenger Name Records) may be sent to:

  • U.S. CBP 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 US Customs and Border Protection are reviewed by the head of the Privacy Division of the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, DC 20528.

Passengers can send an application for review to the data protection authority in any EU country if they do not feel they have received a satisfactory answer from the United States authorities.