The Ultimate Guide to Cultural Etiquette & Evisa for USA Travel

Close up of the Hollywood sign shot from a distance with a zoom lens.

Traveling to the United States offers you an incredible opportunity to experience a myriad of cultures, landscapes, and iconic landmarks. Whether you’re planning to admire the lights of Times Square, walk through the historic streets of Boston, or relax on the sun-kissed beaches of California, understanding and respecting American culture will enhance your visit. To help you prepare for this exciting adventure, it’s important to consider some cultural tips that can aid in making your trip smooth and enjoyable.

Before we delve into the nuanced aspects of American culture, an essential detail that cannot be overlooked is ensuring that you have the proper travel authorization — the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). If you are a citizen of a VWP country, obtaining an ESTA is a streamlined process to gain permission to travel to the US. You can apply here before planning the specifics of your visit.

Cultural Norms and Etiquette in the US

Understanding local customs and behaviors is beneficial when visiting any country, and the US is no exception:

  • Greetings: In the US, a handshake is a common greeting in professional settings, while a smile and a ‘hello’ are sufficient for casual encounters.
  • Tipping: Tipping is customary in the United States. Gratuity isn’t usually included in the bill, and a tip of 15%-20% in restaurants, for taxi drivers, and similar services is expected.
  • Punctuality: Americans value timeliness, so it’s important to be on time for appointments and social gatherings.
  • Personal Space: When talking to someone, respecting personal space is crucial. A comfortable distance is typically about an arm’s length away.
  • Small Talk: Engaging in light conversation about non-controversial topics is a common social practice and considered polite.

Understanding the ESTA for a Hassle-Free Visit

Now that you’re equipped with some cultural tips for your trip, let’s focus on your travel authorization. The ESTA is not a visa but a requirement for those under the Visa Waiver Program to enter the United States for tourism, business, or while in transit for up to 90 days. Here’s a quick rundown on the ESTA:

  • Application Process: The application form is straightforward, requiring basic personal, travel, and eligibility information.
  • Processing Time: After submitting your application and payment, you’ll typically receive your ESTA via email within 72 hours.
  • Validity: An ESTA is valid for two years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first, and allows for multiple entries into the US.

Here are simple steps to apply for an ESTA:

  1. Fill out our easy-to-use online application form. The application takes about 10 minutes. Make sure to have your passport handy.
  2. Submit & Pay for your application. We accept all payment types. PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay & Credit Card.
  3. Get your ESTA emailed to you within 72hrs. We’ll email you your approved travel authorization and that’s it, you’re ready to go!

If you need your ESTA in a hurry, you can choose from our two expedited processing options. Simply select your add-on at checkout.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is an ESTA a Visa?

No, an ESTA is not a visa. It is an authorization for citizens of VWP countries to travel to the United States without a visa for short visits.

How Long Can I Stay in the US With an ESTA?

With an ESTA, you can stay in the US for up to 90 days per visit and it is valid for multiple entries over two years.

Can I Work in the US With an ESTA?

No, an ESTA does not permit you to work in the US. It is intended for tourism, business conferences, or transiting purposes only.

Do Children Need an ESTA?

Yes, children, regardless of age, require an ESTA if they are citizens of a VWP country.

What Happens if My Passport Expires?

If your passport expires, your ESTA becomes invalid. You must apply for a new ESTA with your new passport before travelling to the US.

In conclusion, immersing yourself in the US culture and adhering to its norms can make your trip much more fulfilling. As long as you secure your travel authorization through a timely application for an ESTA, you will be one step closer to experiencing the diverse and vibrant culture of the United States. Safe travels!

Share this...