Archive: Aug 2015

Do I need flight and address details to apply?

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Do I need flight and address details to apply?

No! You are not required to provide any trip details, such as a flight number or address, when requesting an ESTA. Although a section does appear on the application requesting those details, you may simply leave it blank.

We actually recommend that you obtain your ESTA before booking a flight or hotel, in case any problems arise with your ESTA Travel Authorization approval.

Furthermore, you may always add or edit your travel information even after obtaining your authorization approval.

Let’s say you’ve changed your travel plans, and both your flight and address details have changed after your approval, just write us an email through the contact form here, and we would happily update those details for you.

Please remember that not all of the information provided in your application can be edited or updated. You can edit your flight carrier; the city where you are boarding; your telephone number; your email address; and your physical address while staying in the USA.

 

All of the other information provided through your online application cannot be edited in anyway. If any of that information changes, you must apply for a new ESTA.

New security measures are in place for flights to the U.S.

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New security measures for flights

Before departing, remember to Charge your electronic Devices.

Sunday July 6th 2014, the U.S. aviation agency TSA (Transportation Security Administration) has announced that all electronic devices with their battery low will not be allowed in flights departing for the USA.

New security measureIn fact, the security officer at the airport will control all your electronic devices and may ask you to turn them on or / and pass additional screening.

These new security measures are applied to all flights to the United States departing from Europe, Africa and Middle East airports. It is important to consider the above if your flight ticket has multiple destinations if you make one or more stops.

This prohibition is due to the fact that U.S. officials fear that electronic devices will be diverted and used as bombs. By turning on your devices, security officers can ensure that the batteries have not been replaced by explosives.

Remember that all electronic devices are called into question, including laptops, tablets and smartphones. Security officers will be very careful to Apple iPhones and Samsung Galaxy.

When dealing with security measures it is always sage to be proactive! On your next flight to the U.S., in addition to your ESTA, also consider:

 Make sure all your electronics are charged

 Arrive early at the airport

 Have your charger handy in case of need

Remember that in case your electronic device has no charge it may be not accepted for boarding with consequent risk of having to leave it the departure airport … or worst, It may cost you your flight..

10 locations in New York you must check out during your visit

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10 locations in New York you must visit

New York

From Central Park to Broadway, here are some of the New York Landmarks you can’t miss while visiting the city with your ESTA.

Last year, millions of tourists visited New York under the Visa Waiver Program. The city is recognized world-wide as a symbol of modernity and offers countless attractions for visitors.

Times Square

1. Times Square

The intersection between Broadway and Seventh Street, Times Square is a New York attraction that every visitor has to see for themselves. Times Square is the heart of Manhattan’s action, and has that undeniable New York City vibe. More than 300 thousand people walk through Times Square daily. Take your own photo souvenir with your friends and have lunch on the steps of the TKTS booth.

Times Square

2. The High Line

High Line Park is a 2.4 km linear park located on the west side of Manhattan. It was transformed into a park from an abandoned railway in 2011. The world-class design of the project and the amazing views of the city make High Line park a must see attraction for locals and tourists alike. It hosts both a farmer’s and artists’ market.

Empire State

3. Empire State Building

With its 103 floors, the building is among the most notable pieces of architecture in Manhattan, if not the the world. It is an American Cultural landmark preserved by the national preservation committee. Everyday thousands of visitors make their way to the Empire State Building to enjoy a 360 degree bird’s eye view of the big apple.

Broadway

4. Broadway

Manhattan’s Theater district hosts 40 professional venues with more than 500 seats. Last year’s ticket sales amounted to more than 1.3 billion dollars, making this industry among the biggest attractions in the city among locals and tourists alike. The huge variety of shows ensures you’ll find something for everyone. In Broadway you can watch some of the most popular shows like The Phantom of the Opera or The Lion King, performed live by some of the most well-known actors in the business.

 Chelsea Piers

5. Chelsea Piers

Located in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, the former passenger terminals now offer a variety of restaurants and entertainment for both locals and tourists. We recommend a boat tour around Manhattan. Be sure to not forget a jacket, since the temperature tends to drop quite dramatically on the water.

New York

6. Statue of Liberty

Located on Liberty Island, this neoclassical sculpture is massive in both size and significance. It was created in Paris in 1886 by French sculptor F.A. Bartholdi and given as a gift from the French to the Americans. The female figure represents the Roman goddess Libertas. For thousands of immigrants, Lady Liberty (as she is known in the states) represented freedom, opportunity, and a fresh start. Liberty Island was the main entrance for the many waves of European immigration to the United States. The gardens surrounding the statue offer great views of Manhattan.

Memorial Museum

7. 9/11 Memorial Museum and Plaza1

The plaza was opened in May 2013 and has been a major city attraction since day one. The Plaza and Museum are situated where World Trade Center Towers 1&2 once stood. They stand as a memorial to all those who lost their lives and loved ones to the September 11th terrorist attacks, which killed almost 3 thousand people. A visit here offers a break to reflect on that tragic day, and how the people of the city and the country responded to such a grim moment in their history.

Long Island

8. Long Island

With more than 7 million residents, this island is among the most populated in the United States. A trip here is an escape from the big city where one can enjoy a walk on the beach or a climb up the famous lighthouse.

The island offers many historic paths that wind through several cities, where you can find great restaurants nestled in quaint neighborhoods among other things.

Radio City Music Hall

9. Radio City Music Hall

Located in the Rockefeller Center Building, also known as Showplace of the Nation, this venue offers interior art deco architecture that was declared a city landmark in 1977. It is the birthplace of the famous Rockettes dance company, and today the Radio City Music Hall is still the largest indoor theatre in the world. On Christmas, it hosts one of the most popular shows in the USA. We recommend a guided tour of the venue to get an inside look on how a world-class show is produced and performed.

Central Park

10. Central Park

Arguably the most famous park in the world, Central Park was opened in 1857 and stretches through the heart of Manhattan. It is recognized among the most beautiful parks on earth and ranks as the most visited in the country.

It is not uncommon to spot a Hollywood production shooting a few scenes for a movie. In fact, Central Park is also among the most popular locations to shoot movies or TV series. Several tours of the park are available, from the art biking to the movie and TV series set walking tour. Or just enjoy the people watching, a nice walk, and the performers..

Top 9 activities to do for free or for a small fee while in Miami

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Top 9 activities to do in Miami

Will your ESTA take you to sunny Miami? Here are 9 activities that will make your holiday unforgettable without blowing your wallet.

Miami is known as one of the most eclectic and entertaining cities in the world, thanks to its wonderful beaches, fashionable restaurants, stunning architecture and nightlife equal to a few other destinations.

Getting involved fully into the Miami life can weigh substantially on your finances. If after obtaining your ESTA, Miami Area is your destination, below we suggest you some activities that will be free or nearly so.

1) Go to the beach

USA ESTA beach

One of the best ways to have fun in Miami is to spend a day at the beach, which is absolutely free! And Miami has the perfect beach for you. The offer ranges from:

 

•The famous and crowded beach of South Beach on Ocean Drive, great for singles and young couples

 

•To that of Crandon Park in Key Biscayne, preferred by families.

 

•if a clothing optional beach is preferable for you, we recommend Haulover Beach in Bal Harbour.

2) Take a Tour

usa_Esta_art_deco-300x201

Miami is a fascinating city, young but full of character. A tour would be a great way to know its beauty and its history. Among the possible tours we suggest:

 

•The historic Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, whose tours are available on Sundays from 13:30 to 15:30.

 

•The Barnacle State Park in Coconut Grove. Completed in 1891, is the oldest house in Miami

 

•The lighthouse, known as Bill Baggs park, in Key Biscayne. The park is built around one of the most beautiful beaches of Miami. There you can rent a bike, or bed and umbrella at the beach.

•A walk in Miami Beach and the Art Deco district, where you can discover the magic of Ocean Drive, combined with that of Lincoln Road and Collins Avenue. There, walking through the crowd will be a dive among the colors, the sun, the smells and the culture of Miami Beach.

•A walk on the waterfront of downtown Miami. Whether you’re interested in history, shopping, art or entertainment, you cannot miss this scenic part of the city.

•A visit to the little Havana neighborhood, on Eighth Street. Take a walk through what is known as the Cuba of Miami. Explore the flavors and places that this neighborhood has to offer.

•A walk through the Graffiti of Wynwood, where the art of local and visiting “writers” gave birth to one of the most vibrant area of the city. In addition, several clubs and restaurants in this area have “Happy hour” deals.

3) Visit a museum or an art gallery for free

USA ESTA Wynwood

The city of Miami is a major world’s cultural center. No coincidence that for several years the art event of world importance Art Basel makes a stop here for 4 days a year, 4-7 December. Moreover in recent years, important cultural centers for their architecture and artistic offerings were born. On occasion, some of these museums offer free access or a discounted entrance fee. It is worth enjoying this offer. Among many we specially recommend the following:

 

 

New World Symphony in Miami Beach, where the tour takes place on Saturday and Sunday at a very low cost.

PAMM, Perez Art Museum Miami, Downtown, with free admission every second Saturday of the month.

Adrienne Arsht Center, which provides free guided tours on Monday and Saturday.

Britto art gallery, Brazilian born artist symbol of Miami, open daily in Lincoln Road and with free access.

•Walk art in the Design District and Wynwood, where many art galleries exhibiting there offer free admission to the public every second Saturday of the month from 7pm to 10pm

Cultural Friday at little Cuba in “Calle Ocho”, with musical performances and art exhibitions outdoors. The event is held on the last Friday evening of every month.

4) Visit for free one of the many parks and gardens Miami has to offer.

USA ESTA South Pointe

The tropical weather of Miami is a perfect natural habitat for diverse flora and fauna. Public gardens are open to the public free of charge throughout the year; others have offers all year round during specific days of the week.

 

 

 

 

 

•The Miami Beach Botanical Garden, closed on Monday. Consult the website for offers.

•The Crandon Park in Key Biscayne, an amazing hidden beauty. Since the signage is lacking, we invite you to ask for directions to the entry point where you will have to pay $5 for parking.

Japanese Garden Itchimura, on Watson Island, open daily.

Fairchild Botanical Tropical Garden, One of the top tropical botanical gardens in the world. A stop that should not be missed when visiting Miami. They offer free entry a few days a year.

•The South Pointe Park, in Miami Beach, where the legendary beach finishes. There, on Saturday at sunset, you can enjoy viewing the cruise ships leaving the port of Miami.

•The Vizcaya Museum and Garden, in Coconut Grove. A recommended visit on all Miami guides. In the past they have been offering free admissions on weekends.

5) Join one of the many free events and festivals

USA ESTA Art Basel

South Florida offers mild weather all year round. This makes Miami a favorite destination for national and international events, some of which are free.

 

Miami Festival, a music festival that has existed for more than thirty years. The majority of the events are held at the Frost School of Music, inside the University of Miami. It is held in October.

International Boat Show, Every February at the Miami Beach convention center and various marinas of the city.

New Year Celebrations, which are held every year on Ocean Drive.

Art Basel and other art events, which take place the first week of December, between Miami Beach and the city of Miami. With an entry fee ranging from $5 to $15, you can admire the works of fine artists from around the world set on several stages.

6) Visit Miami Beach

USA ESTA Miami Beach

South Beach dominates the town’s scene. So much to see, people, scenery, architecture. Although most of the most elegant and expensive bars, restaurants and hotels are located here, here are some tips for you with an eye to the price.

 

Go around with the South Beach bus, at a cost of 25 cents per ride. Or use the Swoop, an electric golf car with 6 seats, totally free. There, however, it’s suggested to tip the driver.

•Discover Art Deco architecture, visiting the former residence of Gianni Versace on Ocean Drive, or strolling through the pedestrian streets of south beach, or admiring the Delano Hotel, the National or Raleigh.

•Go to Lummus Park, or at the beach.

•Or do some windows shopping at the many cloth designers stores and shops present on Lincoln Road and Collins Avenue.

7) Visit Coconut Grove

USA Esta Coconut Grove

Coconut Grove is one of Miami’s most historic areas as the preferred place for the famous poet Robert Frost. In the 80s it dominated the town’s night scene; today nevertheless it retains a special charm.

Barnacle State Park in Coconut Grove. Finished in 1891, it is the oldest house in Miami.

The Peacock Park, a public urban park of 38,000 square meters, in Coconut Grove on the shore of Biscayne Bay.

Cocowalk, a nice outdoor mall in the heart of Coconut Grove.

The buildings and streets of Mayfair, with their typical architecture.

8.) Visit the bay front of Downtown Miami

USA ESTA Baysida

The name Miami comes from the word “Mayami”, a term used by the ancient Indians of Florida which means “lots of water”. Miami in fact looks a bit like a modern Venice, with canals everywhere overlooked by a varied architecture. Even downtown Miami has its own bay front, charming and with so many free cultural events throughout the year.

 

 

•The park in front of the bay, where enjoy a walk between the modern architecture of downtown and the Bay of Miami, having as a background Miami Beach.

•The Bayside mall, historic outdoor mall popular among passengers of the cruise ships docked to the nearby port.

•The Freedom Tower, where Cuban refugees were welcomed on their arrival and now a museum.

9) Visit Little Havana

USA ESTA Calle Ocho

Take a walk on the Eighth street in the neighborhood of Miami known as Little Havana. Here you will be immersed in a magical Caribbean atmosphere, where you will feel in Cuba indeed.

 

 

Domino Park, where Cubans practice one of their favorite social games, the Domino. It’s open daily and admission is free.

•The monument to the memory of the Bay of Pigs.

Cultural Friday at little Cuba in “Calle Ocho”, with musical performances and art exhibitions outdoors. The event is held on the last Friday evening of every month.

Whether your ESTA authorization is taking you to a great celebration trip or into an explorative one, we wish you a safe and enjoyable Journey in the United States.

10 + 1 tips for travel to the USA

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Are you planning to visit the United States? Here are 11 Travel Tips for USA

Travel tips for USA

Planning a trip to the USA can be quite exciting! It is useful to get familiar with some local customs. The following tips will introduce you to some very common American habits that might not be familiar to all visitors, especially first timers.

The United States is among the world’s top destinations for visitors from all over the planet. Last year more than 65 million people visited the country. We can all agree that much of American culture is made familiar to the world through its film, television and music industries. Some common U.S. habits, however, are quite different from what we know, and particularly from what we are used to in our country of origin.

1. Make sure you apply for an ESTA

Most visitors can enter the United States with an electronic travel authorization. If you plan a holiday shorter than 90 days, for pleasure,

Electronic Travel Authorization

business or transit, a formal visa is not required if your country of citizenship is included in the Visa Waiver Program.

Although it is generally advised to apply 3 days prior to your departure, we suggest you to apply for your Esta before you reserve your flight and/or hotel.The procedure costs $72.00, payable with credit card or Paypal, and is fully carried out online.

An Esta is valid for 2 years from the issuance date and allows you multiple entrances. Esta simplifies your travel and formalities upon your arrival to the U.S.

2. Your final bill is more than expected

ESTA bill

It is generally known that U.S. prices for goods and food on average are quite reasonable. Especially if compared with those in the Euro zone.

3. Humor is not welcomed at security in the airport

One of the things that might surprise you is that the price you see shown is not the final price you will pay. For clothing or goods in general, the price usually does not include sales taxes (on average 7%). At many restaurants you will not only have to account for the sales tax, but a minimum of 15% for tips as well.
Humor ESTA travelWhile a joke can seem like a good way to alleviate the tension during your security check at the airport, it may very well land you in trouble. Security officers at the airport are friendly, but still extremely alert and serious about their duties. Any threatening joke or suspicious attitude can lead to deep security screening.

Do not allude to any bomb, weapon or anything dangerous among your belongings, even sarcastically.

For an easy security check, we recommend you leave your humor behind and simply be straightforward with any question you are asked by any security or immigration officer.

For more details on security screening upon your arrival in the USA, visit this section.

4. Have some cash available for tips

We know how frustrating it can be having to hand one-dollar bills to tip to your taxi driver rather than your concierge at the hotel. But as the saying goes, when in Rome do as the romans do! This also holds true in the USA. Many workers in the service industry rely on tips for their income and it is therefor the norm to tip any service provider. Many restaurants, especially those in tourist hubs, automatically add up to 18% tip to the bill.
DolarWhile in the USA the most common way to pay is by credit card (accepted even for the smallest bill amounts), for small “thank you” tips we suggest having a few dollar bills handy.Tip disclaimers are often found at the bottom of a restaurant’s menu, so be sure to check! Any included tip will also be shown on your bill. If service was exceptional it is sometimes common to add an additional tip to the one already included, but it is not required.

5. Even “in transit” passengers clear customs and immigration

If you are heading from Europe or Asia to some exotic island in the Caribbean or Argentina, chances are your flight will make a stop in the USA. Miami, for example, is the flight Hub for South America. If this is your case, you are what is known as an “in transit” passenger.

But don’t be fooled, unlike the majority of other places, American authorities will welcome you like any other visitor. You will have to clear
Transit USA ESTAcustoms and immigration before boarding your next flight to your final destination. We suggest making sure you have at least a 2 hour layover before your next flight, and even when you are in transit you have to obtain an ESTA Authorization prior to boarding.

6. What to expect at the security control

While clearing security before approaching your boarding gate you will have to:

Security tips for USA Remove your shoes and place them in the scanning machine

 Remove your laptop, tablet or any electronic device from your bag and have it scanned as well

 Make sure your electronic devices have enough power in case the officer asks you to turn it on

 Go through a full body scan. National and international travelers will be scanned

While this last point has raised questions about invasion of privacy, it makes controls a lot quicker. If you have any health concerns, announce it to the officer before going through the body scanner. But remember, you can’t refuse it.

7. Look at the departures screens

Departures tips

 

 

Your flight will only be announced at the boarding gate. Given the size of an average U.S. airport, you may not be able to hear the call if you are at the bar or shopping around. So, check your boardingtime at the screen, note it on your boarding pass, and remember to get to the boarding gate on time.

 

 

8. Concerns about your luggage security? A TSA lock can help

Unlike other countries flight regulations, USA TSA (transport security agency) has banned locks on luggage.

In fact, they randomly open boarded itemsTSA lock if any suspicions arise. If you are concerned about the security of your personal belongings you still have an option, use a TSA lock. Besides opening through the number combination, this lock has a unique key TSA possess. There are many pieces of luggage on the market that include a TSA lock. This option, along with the ESTA travel authorization, has been implemented to speed up immigration and security controls.

 

 

 

 

 

9. International phone rates are expensive

Phones tips for USAThe majority of businesses and hotels in the USA offer free Wi-Fi to their customers. As a rule of thumb, it is wise to use it when your phone is on. As in any foreign country, using your phone abroad through international roaming can result in an unpleasant bill when back home. Some hotels may charge for the use of their Wi-Fi network.

 

 

10. Planning to see multiple cities?

Multiple cities

If you are going to travel within the United States, we recommend that you avoid buses. America is geographically large, so the distances to cover are humongous. Buses are slow and uncomfortable. Better options include flights planned well in advanced (the fare is usually very accessible), or renting a car. Even car rentals can be inexpensive if planned in advance. Through online travel websites you can rent a car as low as $ 15 per day. And USA authorities accept your national driver’s license (with few exceptions) while you are within the country as a tourist.

 

11. Travel insurance

Remember that your country’s medical insuranceInsurance tips won’t work in the USA. If somethi
ng were to happen, the entire cost would be your responsibility and medical bills in the U.S. can be very expensive. We advise you to evaluate the option of buying a travel insurance that will cover your health, travel / luggage and your rental car in case of an emergency.

Travelling with your ESTA: Practical Advice of Conduct

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Practical Advice of Conduct

Will the cultural differences between Europe and the United States lead to friction? We think it might, so we would like to share some general rules of behavior.

USA ESTA behave

We can certainly say that Americans are kind but observant of the rules. Equipped with a good deal of sense of humor, they still tend to be direct in conversations.

Be sure of yourself: during conversations it’s not recommended to use metaphors. Americans do not beat around the bush, they are direct. This is reflected for example in their way of writing, where communication is almost always to the point. In general, a fearful or shy attitude could trigger suspicions that you are hiding something.

Remember this when you will present your ESTA authorization on arrival at the airport. The immigration officer will be courteous but also alert on your attitude when responding questions he or she will ask. Do not let questions about where you will go during your trip or where you will stay inhibit you when responding.

 

 

 

Neutral, ice breaker Topics: As mentioned above, the European and American culture have some differences. Although you are seen with curiosity, some general unwritten rules are to be respected.

If your interlocutors are familiar to you, any questions about their family are welcomed. How are your children, or your family? Is generally a good starting point for a jovial conversation.

Work has a central role in American society, so why not share some knowledge on this topic? The European economy and the US have extensive diversity; the exchange of experiences could be highly educational.

Another possible topic of conversation is sports. Unlike Europe however, here football or soccer(as Americans call it) is not the most popular sport. Basketball, baseball and certainly the NFL (National Football League) are. The super bowl in fact (the final game of American football) is among the most watched sport events in the world. Take note before you go and find out more about these sports before you arrive.

Topics to refrain from speaking about: Some social topics, often discussed at the table with friends at home, are not as neutral overseas. Refrain from political, racial or religious themes.If you are curious about legislation that entitles to the bearing of arms, be neutral in your questions and willing to listen to the reasons of others. We do not recommend discussing subjects like sexual freedom, abortion or the death penalty in the US justice system.In general you could be put in an uncomfortable position should you only decide to impose your own point of view on the above mentioned issues. America is famous for respecting differences of opinion, but you should not discuss these issues unless you are with friends.

Welcomed body language: During your stay you will notice the courtesy and formality of the US population. If you crossed the look of someone in a public place, it is welcome to nod. Maintain eye contact with your interlocutor, it is a sign that you are listening. Remember that eye contact should not be prolonged; you might embarrass those who you are staring at.When introduced to someone, a smile is the best way to greet a new acquaintance.

When introduced to someone, a smile is the best way to greet a new acquaintance.

Body language to avoid: Unlike Europe, the Americans are not very prone to physical contact. In fact, they do not kiss friends when greeting them. During conversation, avoid body contact and always maintain a “safe” distance. This is unlike the Latin culture (of Spain or Italy) and more similar to the likes of Germany and Sweden, for example.

Body language with your partner: As mentioned, American culture is quite formal, somewhat more conservative than the European. So, if you travel with your partner, be careful with overt expressions of love in public, they are not well perceived.

Do not be afraid of a cultural exchange. The differences with your country will stimulate many questions. The conversation that will be born will further enrich your trip in the U.S.

Tips to Renting a car in the U.S:

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Tips to Renting a car:

Renting a car USA

When planning a trip to the U.S you may have wondered whether it is worth it to tour the city of your destination, but also the surrounding areas, cities nearby or why not even take an endless road leading you to your next adventure.

At the same time you might have concerns and doubts on what are the necessary requirements to be met to drive in the US, how to get to your destination, what are the costs of the various tolls, which insurance is the most suitable for you.

Finally, you start to wonder what would happen in the eventuality of getting in an accident in a foreign country.

With the following article in USA ESTA aims to clarify and demystify the most common aspects of the road travel in the United States.

The goal is that travelers visiting the USA with ESTA can fully enjoy their stay even when driving a rented vehicle,

1. Are there any age restrictions when renting a car?

The answer is yes, especially when one is visiting with an ESTA. Each rental agency has its own conditions, but it is true to say that the minimum age is 21 years, with some agencies that have set it to 25 years.

Also, depending on your age the cost of insurance can decrease or increase according to your experience.  This has a cost ranging from $ 20 to $ 35 per day. Another factor that may affect the cost of insurance (even if you are over 25) is how many years ago you obtained your driver’s license. Some car rentals require at least two years of experience to access the lowest rates. The minimum limit of age and the cost of mandatory insurance are shown on rental terms that we urge you to read.

2. Is it possible to pay with cash or is it necessary to have a credit card?

Both are true. If it is possible to pay the bill with cash, at the same time you will be required to have a credit card as collateral. And almost certainly the card will be pre authorized for a minimum amount (usually $ 500, which may in some cases be negotiated down to $ 250). Moreover, in some cases, the American Express card is not accepted.

So it is necessary to have a valid credit card available when renting a car.

3. Is my foreign driver’s license valid? Or shall I request an International driver’s license?

If your driver’s license is written or has a translation in a language using the Latin alphabet you will have no issues whatsoever.

If this is in Japanese, Cyrillic, Arabic or other non-Latin alphabets, it is necessary to obtain an international driver’s license or IDP (international drivers permit) in your home country before you travel.

However, sometimes an international driver’s permit can be useful. If stopped by a police officer not particularly familiar with other languages for example, or even in case of an accident.

In addition, some car rental agencies may require the IDP (international drivers permit), so we invite you to always contact the car rental agency before confirming a reservation.

For more information on how to obtain an international drivers permit, please call the department of driving license’s in your home country.

4. Where should I rent the car at the airport or in the city?

Although many people think that renting in the city is cheaper than at the airport, this is not true.

Today, in fact all car hire companies apply Airport taxes, whether you hire at the airport or not. So, when you arrive in the US with your travel authorization we recommend to save yourself the trip to the city and hire directly at the airport, rates are pretty much the same as in the city. In addition, in most cases you will return your car in the same airport anyways.

5. What if the flight is delayed?

In many cases, the rental agencies require the flight details when booking the car. This will help in case of delays since the flights are shown online on airports’ websites.

If the delay of the flight is less than the 3-5 hours, the reservation will be maintained.

If you have a delay of more than 10 hours, please call the company to notify the delay. The local number or email should be indicated on the reservation confirmation.

In general, if the delay is of many hours, your credit card or travel insurance could bear the costs related to a possible re booking of the car.

 6. What to do in case of an accident?

If you are involved in an accident, immediately call the rental agency, you will be guided step by step on what to do. To request an ambulance in case of injuries, call 911 (all emergency services).

If your vehicle is not safe to drive, you are entitled to another car of the same category. If the accident is caused by reckless driving of those who have rented, the renter can refuse to replace the car (driving under the influence, etc.).

No matter how minor the accident you need a police report on the incident for the car rental insurance to cover the damages.

Unless otherwise written in the rental conditions, the roadside assistance is always included with the price of the rental.

Car renting tips US

 7. Dealing with tolls?

In most cases, the rental agencies have agreements with the highway authorities in order to have in the car an electronic device that automatically pays the tolls. A minimum amount can be charged at time of rental.

It is important to clarify this issue with the car hire company, to avoid possible infringements in case you do not pay the toll. In fact in many cases the payment can only be made electronically, so there is no possibility to stop at the toll booth and pay cash.

 8. How do I pay a speeding or parking fine?

Because the fines are under the driver’s name, the best advice we can give you is to pay them! And within the 30 days set by law, to avoid further penalties.

Our advice is also useful to avoid possible problems in renewing your ESTA, given that one of the questions to get authorization to travel in the US is if you have a criminal record of any kind.

The tickets can be paid online in almost all states of the USA, ask the rental agency which is the correct web address where it’s possible to pay them although it is usually printed in the ticket itself.

In general, we invite you to be respectful of traffic signs, to respect the rights of way and to be a careful and cautious driver. Police are extremely intransigent in the USA.

 9. Do I have to return the car where I got it?

Generally when renting a car you are free to travel wherever you wish within the country.

You can therefore return your car at different destination from where you rented it. However there will be an extra fee for this.

 10. Although I have purchased insurance, am I always covered?

Although most of the cars are rented with insurance, without deductible, it is good to know that in some cases, such insurance may not cover damage to you and others.

For example, if the accident was caused by the use of alcohol or drugs, the insurance will likely not cover the damages. And the rental agency will demand compensation for damages to the renter. We remind you that driving under the influence is a serious crime in the US, which in addition to legal issues could make you lose your ESTA or visa.

Preparing the Arrival to USA

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Preparing the Arrival

Arrival to USA

Unless you hold a passport from Canada or Bermuda, before you arrive in the U.S. you must fill out an immigration form. There is a white I-94 for Visa holders or a green I-94W for those entering under the Visa Waiver Program.
Most of the daily travelers arrive by air, and U.S. immigration replaced the I-94W with the electronic authorization system known as ESTA. So, travelling by air doesn’t require filling out an immigration form but an Esta application instead.

Immigration services do not require a print out of your Esta; the system in fact has been implemented to make immigration screening easier and faster. However, we strongly recommend you keep a copy of your Esta among your travel documents (passport, flight tickets, etc.), in case of any problems upon entry to the country.

The old immigration forms are mostly used for entry by land. The immigration services have implemented a system through Esta to exchange information with airline companies. This allows them to have a file on you before your arrival and to keep it during your stay in the U.S. In other words, your airline company has anticipated your visit.

Once you’ve landed in the U.S., before collecting your luggage or leaving the airport, you will need to go through a quick examination by an immigration officer. The goal is to determine that your intention to visit the U.S. is valid. Usually this is a formality that lasts less than a minute.

If during the examination the officer suspects your travel intentions to be doubtful, you may be taken to a private room for questioning. You should be aware that the officer has the right go through your personal belongings such as your agenda, personal computer, phone etc.

Make sure you do NOT have anything that suggests you have the intention to stay beyond the time limit granted by your visa or perform activities not allowed by your visa (including seeking a permanent stay).

We encourage you to be very careful and straightforward. Immigration officials are very serious about anything (including verbal jokes) that implies any risk for the national security. Any misunderstanding could lead to a long time under going further screening or worse, early repatriation.

Upon your arrival, if you are not a U.S. resident, you will need to indicate where you will reside during your stay. You need an exact address for your location, including a street name and number, not just a hotel name, college, etc. Even though under the visa waiver program a U.S. address is not required for your ESTA application, you will be required to do so upon your arrival. So, be sure to have it arranged before your departure.

As soon as your immigration interview is completed, the officer will stamp your passport and grant you access to the United States. An Esta allows you a stay for up to 90 days from the date on that stamp. If you enter with an I-94 form, be sure to keep the portion of it that the officer will hand back to you; it is needed when you are leaving the U.S.

Clearing Customs

USA arrival

Every time a traveler enters a country (including their own) they need to clear custom. Upon entering the United States you must complete a Customs declaration. This form is known as modulo 6059B; it is blue in color and is in the shape of a tall rectangle. Usually, you are given this form during your flight to the U.S or at the check in before boarding your flight to the U.S.

All travelers need to complete one, including nationals, residents, visitors and visa holders.

Below a view of the form:

Arrival form

Only a single customs declaration is needed per family / party of related travelers.

The front part of your customs form requires your personal information including your passport number and flight details.

Below that, you are required to answer 6 questions.

Some of the questions are pertinent to strongly monitored goods and items, including food, merchandise and currency (for example, you cannot enter the U.S. with more than $10,000 in cash without declaring it). On the back of the form, you need to list the items that you are asked for on the front of the form. You might mention whether you are bringing in any gifts or souvenirs for a friend, tobacco or alcohol, monetary instruments etc. This section has limited space, so if you need to declare several items feel free to fill out multiple forms.

So, after you are granted access to the U.S. from the official at the immigration checkpoint, you will proceed to pick up your luggage and head to a further examination area. Here, you give your customs declaration form to the agent and in the majority of the cases the agent clears you right away indicating you toward the exit. Randomly, some travelers are subjected to further luggage inspection or sent to pay customs duties if they have declared goods that require them to do so.

Further inspection may be done manually (you need to open your luggage) or through an X-ray machine (similar to the scan for your carry-on luggage at the security controls before boarding your flight).

USA restrictions

If after questioning a traveler arises more suspicions, they will be taken to a private room for a more invasive inspection.
Remember, the U.N. has sanctioned some countries and goods produced in those countries are not allowed inside the U.S. The current list includes Syria, Iran, Cuba and North Korea.

A traveler is not allowed to enter with meat or unprocessed vegetables or fruit. You may, however, bring in packaged foods like cookies, bread and baked goods in general.

As a general rule, you need to have your food items in a vacuum-sealed package.

If you are planning a visit to any U.S. territories (such as the US virgin islands, Guam, etc..), remember that on your way back to the mainland you will have to clear customs again.

You will go through immigration controls at your port of entry (this procedure is known as Progressive clearance), but most times you will retrieve your luggage at your final destination (port of arrival) and clear customs there.

In other words, if your arrival city is in Philadelphia and your final destination is New Orleans, you will surely go through immigration in Philadelphia but retrieve your luggage in New Orleans and clear customs there. To be sure where to retrieve your luggage, please double check with your airline company.

U.S. Health Care System: What is good to know?

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Health Care System: What is good to know?

The United States of America is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet. Whether you travel for pleasure or business, every year millions of visitors come to the U.S. for stays ranging from one week to a few months. If we can say with certainty that the visitor will find a country welcoming on arrival, it is necessary that he gets informed about some aspects of daily life in the U.S. that can be very different from his country of origin.
One of these is certainly the national health system.

Health logo

This is recognized as one of the best in the world, with absolute points of medical excellence. But unlike many countries in the rest of the world, the burden of the costs of medical care falls on the citizen / patient. In other words, the majority of U.S. citizens subscribe to a medical insurance to protect themselves in case of medical treatment. If the income is below poverty line, the federal government will intervene to help the citizen to subscribe said insurance policy.

Considering the above, it is clear that a foreign visitor is not covered by the national American health care system. Hence the necessity of resorting to medical care while you are in the U.S. can result in a very expensive bill. While in fact it is possible to receive medical care at any hospital without possessing a medical insurance, the costs associated with these treatments are entirely up to the patient.

WHAT TO DO IN THE EVENT OF A MEDICAL EMERGENCY?

In general, in case of need for medical care, you have several options, all related to the severity of the problem. If the problem is in fact not very urgent, it is best to call the hospital and ask for a recommendation for a specific doctor for your problem. A visit to a doctor is less expensive than one at the emergency room.

Doctor

The second option is to contact at private health clinics, which are cheaper than a hospital. However it is important to remember that these tend to run a series of tests on the patient which can drive up the final cost. Even in cases of minor medical necessity.

Always pay attention at the offered exams, not all of them are necessary to you in specific circumstances, use your common sense.

In case of emergency, the best thing is certainly that you contact the hospital nearest to you and receive medical attention in the emergency room.

It is advisable to be covered by health insurance

As stated above, the U.S. has a health care system where the patient bears the costs for medical attention. American citizens protect themselves with a medical insurance, why not do it yourself as a visitor?

Insurance companies typically exist to protect and safeguard. Whether you suffer from sprained ankle, or are afflicted with dysentery while abroad,

insurance can assist you and not leave you alone. Especially when your medical care bill arrives, you’d like a lot not to be alone. It is therefore very useful to consider a policy that is the most appropriate to your trip. In addition to the medical coverage also many insurances include theft or loss of baggage, delays and flight cancellations, repatriation due to reasons of force majeure, etc…

How to evaluate and choose a policy?

Some terms and conditions of the policy will guide you through the evaluation and selection of the most suitable coverage for you. We suggest you consider:

The maximum expenditure covered by insurance. It is recommended that this threshold is higher than the 500,000 euro.
If the medical expense is considerable, it is recommended that the policy provides for the payment of such expenses directly to the Hospital. We do not recommend the option of refund after you have paid.
Pay attention to the deductible. The lower is the payment that will be up to you in the event of an accident, the better is your insurance.
Choose coverage for ambulance transport.
We suggest that you always opt for coverage for repatriation costs in case of emergencies (natural disasters, unexpected wars, terrorist attacks, etc.).
Make sure the phone number for an emergency is always active and reliable.
Check and evaluate the accessory coverage as, lost or stolen luggage, insurance in the event you rent a car, etc…

Finally, if your trip involves excursions or sports activities at high risk (activities in the snow, hiking in the mountains, parachute, rafting, etc..), Make sure you are covered even in such cases and that the transport to a hospital (some cases require helicopter transport) is included in the coverage.

How to become a doctor?

And next you may want to check

That the medical insurance phone number has doctors ready to assist you?
You’ll be assisted in the event that your injury makes you temporarily not self-sufficient?
Should you have a long hospital stay and your family would like to visit you, that their travel expenses will be covered.

In general we warmly recommend reading carefully the terms and conditions of the policy that you want to subscribe.

And if I decide to insure my luggage?

It is important to remember that the insurance covers high costs, in some cases in the hundreds of thousands of Euros. If a European traveler would have a serious accident in Los Angeles, this would have a quite high hospital bill, and the state of California pursues the patient until he pays. Same goes for a hiker in the mountains of Colorado that had a sudden emergency and therefore needed to be transported by helicopter to the nearest hospital. Considering the above it is evident what benefits insurance can give to the subscriber.

Maletas de colores

What ‘can certainly help in choosing the most suitable coverage at the most convenient price to you, is to customize your coverage. In other words, if you are traveling with a backpack and personal belongings of little value, why would you insure the luggage?

Or why opt for policy with driving coverage if you are not going to rent any car?

Remember that the higher price does not necessarily match the best policy, or at least the best for your needs.
A bit of study on the conditions of coverage and its possibilities of customization, it can help you in tailoring the best protection for your journey. And it will have a lower price than a standard policy.

As a general rule we can definitely say that the final cost of the policy is related to the country of origin, at the age of the subscriber, the destination and time of stay. Some policies for specific geographical areas of the world have a substantial higher cost than others.

More Tips for choosing your insurance

The car rental companies usually require you to subscribe an insurance policy when you take possession of the vehicle. Some credit card companies offer this service for free to their customers (American Express© for example).
Should you wish to lower the cost of mandatory insurance for the renter, you might consider in your policy coverage the use of motorized vehicles. After having the costs of it compare it with the terms offered by the renter and choose the one most suitable to you.

Damage to persons or things

Since the United States is a nation where the sense of personal responsibility is highly prevalent, even in economic terms. And since The U.S. is also the nation that stands out in the world for the highest number of law suits to individuals and / or companies for compensation, you may want a coverage that protects your finances from any damage caused to persons or property.

Delay or temporary impediment

The journey to your final destination can sometimes be delayed by unpredictable events. The most common is a strike. Other less common but worse in terms of severity may be natural calamities, terrorist attacks or outbreaks of war. Some insurance companies cover this kind of impediment up to 250 euros per day.

Trip Cancellation

In the unlikely event that your trip is canceled last minute due to force majeure, it is appropriate to consider covering the costs associated with it (flight, cruise, hotel, etc…). The recommended coverage (you can negotiate it) can reach 100% of the costs, plus a compensation for any emotional damages. Remember that the higher the amount of compensation, the higher will be the premium to be paid.

Airlines or any other service provider bankruptcy

Due to recent mergers and closures of airlines and other service providers, insurance companies have added this coverage. Usually a good insurance provides coverage ranging from ten thousand euros up.

What is the Visa Waiver Program and what do I need to know?

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What is the Visa Waiver Program?

Visa Waiver ProgramTechnically speaking, according the U.S. immigration law the Visa Waiver Program does not grant a real visa. Those wishing to travel to the U.S. and that are a citizen of one of the 38 eligible countries (U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand are one of them), can stay up to 90 days in the United States without a visa.

It is important to remember that whether traveling for business, pleasure or in transit you must meet the requirements of the visa waiver program.

Note also that the VWP does not provide the possibility to extend or change the immigration status of the traveler and at the end of 3 months (90 days) from the date of entry, you are required to leave the territory of the U.S..

The Travel without a visa initiative (Visa Waiver Program – VWP), therefore is a program that allows travelers of included countries * to visit the United States of America, without the obligation to obtain prior to the trip an official visa at the USA embassy or consulate.

What are the requirements to benefit from the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)?

To enter the United United States via VWP, you must meet the following requirements:

The purpose of the trip should be similar to a visa type “B”

The VWP allows travelers whose nationality is included* to travel to the United States without obtaining a visa.

The stay cannot exceed 90 days and the purpose of the visit can be for tourism or business. Even if you are in transit in the U.S. with a final destination outside the U.S., you must obtain a travel authorization prior to boarding. Below are listed the permitted activities when traveling under (visa waiver program) VWP:

BUSINESS:

 Participate in meetings with colleagues

 Attend events, conventions or conferences, whether its purposes is scientific, educational or professional.

 To sign up for training courses of short duration (not allowed to receive any compensation from the company based in the United States, excluding reimbursement for travel expenses).

 Perform contract negotiation

For more information on business trip in the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program or with a tourist visa click here.

TOURISM:

 Travel, visit, or any tourist activity, whether traveling alone or with friends / family and / or fellow travelers.

 Medical Care

 Participation in social events organized by social or service organizations.

 Participation in music, sports and / or events related at an amateur level, as long as you are not paid to participate.

 Registration for recreational short courses and / or study, provided that they do not give credit for an academic degree (an example of what could be possible: a mentoring class of two days in which you participate, while on vacation)
To learn more about the types of visas for the U.S., whether tourist visas, business or check, please click here.

What is not allowed during your visit to the U.S. if traveling under the waiver program (VWP)? Examples:

Listed below are some activities not permitted by the VWP and for which you must apply for a visa before traveling to the United States:

Participate in courses of study that will give credits.

Job Search

To practice as a foreign journalist, or business related to radio or film, or any other type of exchange of information with other countries.

Find an immigration status that will grant permanent residence in the United States

Who can apply for an online authorization for entry into the United States under the VWP? These are the countries participating in the program:

To take advantage of the VWP (visa waiver program) you need to have a national of one of the 38 countries participating in the program. These are listed below:

 A Andorra Australia Austria

 B Belgium Brunei

 C Chile Czech Republic

 D Denmark

 E Estonia

 F Finland France

 G Germany Greece

 H Hungary

 I Iceland Ireland Italy

 J Japan

 L Latvia Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg

 M Malta Monaco

 N Netherlands New Zealand Norway

 P Portugal

 S San Marino Singapore Slovakia Slovenia South Korea Spain Sweden Switzerland

 T Taiwan

 U United Kingdom

How to travel under the VWP? You need an ESTA.

The visa waiver program is an immigration agreement between the United States and the 38 countries mentioned above. It establishes a rationalization of the immigration system. This agreement provides that a traveler belonging to one of the 38 countries can apply for a permit online to travel in the United States.

The implemented system will search its database for the candidate, and the outcome of this research will determine the candidate’s eligibility.

This authorization is called Esta (acronym of electronic system for travel authorization).

Visit the ESTA section for more details, to request the ESTA and pay the required fee.

The airline or cruise company must be recognized and approved

If you arrive by air or sea, the VWP requires that your airline or cruise is among those recognized by the government of the United States. In addition, your ticket may not be one-way. Upon arrival in the U.S., in fact, you must have a return ticket or one to another country, whose travel date is not greater than 90 days from your entrance date, as provided in the VWP.

Never broke U.S. immigration law and has never been denied a visa before your ESTA application

Assuming you have previously traveled in the U.S. under the VWP or with proper visa, it is essential that you complied with all the immigration requirements while in the USA.

It is also necessary that, if in the past you required a visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, this has been never denied.

Also, when you apply online for ESTA, you waive the right to contest the final decision of the immigration officer. In other words, even if ESTA is mandatory to travel in the U.S., this does not guarantee an entry.

The final decision regarding the acceptance of entry of any traveler in the U.S. depends on the visa officer. He has to stamp your during the routine checks on your arrival in the U.S.

Make sure your passport meets the necessary requirements and characteristics

The VWP requires the traveler’s passport has certain requirements. For example, you must have at least six (6) months validity from the date of entry into the U.S. (with the exception of specific cases for a given country). In addition, all members of your family including infants and children, should be in possession of a passport.

In addition, the VWP requires a passport has the following features depending on country of origin:

Citizens who come from: Deben tener un pasaporte legible por máquina, y también: They must have a machine readable passport, and also:
Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Republic of Korea and the Slovak Republic With a microcircuit (chip), which included the details of the data page of the passport – this is known as e-passport.
Taiwan With a microcircuit (chip), which included the details of the data page of the passport – this is known as e-passport, plus the national ID number.

What is a machine readable passport and an ePassport?

The standards and requirements for machine readable and electronics passports are set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, also known as ICAO. Let’s have a look at what these standards and requirements are:

MACHINE READABLE PASSPORT

A machine-readable passport contains personal and passport data on the data page. This data is automatically read when the passport is scanned upon arrival in the United States (usually the airport). Below is a photo of what a machine readable passport looks like:

machine-readable passport In case of doubt if the passport is machine readable or not, we suggest you contact the office where the passport was issued.

ELECTRONIC PASSPORT

Passport and personal identity data are embedded in a microchip, which is part of the passport. These data include the two lines characteristic of machine readable passports, and contains facial recognition information. This chip is scanned to identify the traveler’s passport.

electronic passportThe e-passport is easily identifiable. In fact, on its cover is an internationally recognized symbol. Below is a an example of what an e-passport looks like:

EMERGENCY OR TEMPORARY PASSPORTS

If you are in an emergency situation or in possession of a temporary passport, and are about to enter the United States through the VWP, the passport must be electronic. This is also true for travelers in transit to a destination other than the United States.

The VWP is not the only option. You can still apply for a type “B” visa

Although eligible for VWP, if you prefer, you can still apply for a type “B” visa.

If you do not meet all the requirements set out in this section of this website you will have to apply for a type “B” visa.

If you happen to arrive in the U.S. on a flight of an airline company or a cruise that is not recognized by the U.S. (example: private plane, etc..) you should apply for a visa. We encourage you to review the list of companies approved by the government of the United States.

Is it possible to apply for the VWP if in the past a visa has been denied?

If you are in the situation described in the title of this paragraph, we recommend you to apply for a visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate closest to your city.

In fact, by applying for an ESTA under these circumstances, you may experience one of the following drawbacks:

 The rejection of your ESTA application

 A detailed review of your travel documents upon entry in to the United States

 And / or a denial of entry into U.S. territory, resulting in a forced repatriation.

Under the VWP, you may visit Canada, Mexico or any neighboring islands

If you go to the U.S. under the VWP, you can visit Canada, Mexico or an island near the USA for a short time.

When you are back on American soil, you will be readmitted under the ESTA, provided you still comply with the requirements of the VWP.

The limit of ninety days, maximum stay allowed by the VWP, still applies when you take said short trips.

Therefore, your stay including short trips, cannot be greater than ninety (90) days.

What are the criteria for a nation to be included in the VWP?

For a country to be included in the Treaty of migration known as the Visa Waiver Travel Program – VWP, it necessary that the nation meets several standards, such as:

 Provide a great partnership with the United States in the application of the law at the national and international level;

 Issuance of electronic passports;

 La percentuale di rifiuti per un visto di tipo “B” deve essere inferiore a 3%;

 The percentage of refusals of type “B” visas should be less than 3%;

 Timely communication in the event of lost or stolen passports;

 Strict enforcement of anti-terrorism laws, national laws and border control;

 Maintain a high level of security against counterfeiting of identity documents;