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North and Central America and Caribbean

United States

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Still current at: 04 December 2012
Updated: 14 November 2012
No restrictions in this travel advice Avoid all but essential travel to part(s) of country Avoid all but essential travel to whole country Avoid all travel to part(s) of country Avoid all travel to whole country

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Travel Summary (removal of advice relating to powerful storm on 8 November). The overall level of the advice has not changed; there are no travel restrictions in place in this travel advice for the United States.

(see travel advice legal disclaimer)

Travel advice for this country

  • Hurricane Sandy caused significant damage along the east coast of the US. Power outages still affect parts of the coastal areas of New York and New Jersey. Those in the affected areas should continue to follow the advice of local authorities.

  • The hurricane season normally runs from June to November and can affect the whole of the southern USA. You can monitor the progress of storms on the US National Hurricane Centre  website. See Natural Disasters - Hurricanes.

  • Construction work is taking place inside the terminal at Los Angeles International Airport until approximately the end of November. Customers due to travel through the airport should leave sufficient time for check-in and adhere to the airlines timings for arrival at their boarding gate.

  • British travellers to the US under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP), which allows most British Citizen passport holders to visit for up to 90 days without a visa, must get an authorisation via the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) prior to their journey if arriving in the USA by air or sea. Visitors should register through the ESTA website  and are advised to do so at least 72 hours prior to travel. If you do not have an ESTA you will be refused travel to the USA. The US Customs and Border Protection department charges $14 per application for an ESTA. All payments must be made by credit card. If you are arriving in the USA by land from either Canada or Mexico and qualify for entry to the USA under the VWP, you do not need to complete an ESTA prior to arrival.

  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has automated the I-94W process for all VWP travellers applying for admission at U.S. airports of entry. VWP travellers arriving by air no longer need to complete paper Form I-94W to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. However, the I-94W is still required if you are arriving by land from Mexico or Canada and you will be required to pay a Form I-94W processing fee. If you complete an I-94W form on arrival, you must surrender this to the airline or ship staff at the time you depart the United States.

  • UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETD) are not valid for entry into the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Holders of an ETD must apply for the appropriate US visa. See Entry Requirements.

  • There is a general threat from terrorism in the United States. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. See Safety and Security - Terrorism.

  • You should be alert to the dangers of car and street crime in cities.

  • If you are planning an Arctic cruise, or are travelling to Arctic areas, see our page on Arctic travel.

  • Around 5.5 million British nationals visit the United States every year (Source: US Department of Homeland Security). Most visits are trouble free. See  General - Consular Assistance Statistics.

  • Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. See General - Insurance.

Safety and Security - Terrorism
There is a general threat from terrorism in the United States. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

We remind British nationals of the global threat of terrorism and need to remain vigilant.

The DHS National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) provides public information about credible threats. For all current alerts, please visit the US Department of Homeland Security website. Be aware that NTAS Alerts apply only to threats within the United States and its territories.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued security directives to all United States and international air carriers with inbound flights to the U.S. effective 4 January 2010.  Every individual flying into the U.S. from anywhere in the world travelling from or through nations that are state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest will be required to go through enhanced screening. For a list of the countries affected please visit the TSA website at http://www.tsa.gov/.

You should also look at relevant US government websites, especially: http://www.fbi.gov , http://www.fema.gov, and http://www.dhs.gov and monitor news reports before and during your trip to the USA.

See our Terrorism Abroad page.

Safety and Security - Crime
You should bear in mind the following:

  • Do not leave your door open at any time.
  • Avoid wearing expensive jewellery and carrying valuable items in run down areas.
  • Do not sleep in your car by the roadside or in rest areas.
  • Avoid leaving items on display in cars.
  • Try to stay on main roads and use well-lit car parks.
  • If hit from behind while driving, indicate to the other driver to follow you to a public place and call 911 for Police help.

See our Victims of Crime Abroad page.

Violent crime related to the drugs trade is a major issue in the Mexican states along the border with California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas and travellers by land to Mexico should note that we advise against all but essential travel to Ciudad Juarez, where there is a high level of drug related violence and criminal activity.

In addition, on 15 July the US Consulate in Ciudad Juarez issued the following Emergency Message for US citizens: "Information has come to light that suggests a cartel may be targeting the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez or U.S. Ports of Entry. In the past, cartels have been willing to utilize car bombs in attacks. We ask American citizens to remain vigilant".

We therefore advise against all but essential Mexican-US border crossings in Ciudad Juarez at this time and will continue to monitor the situation and update as necessary. British Citizens should remain extremely vigilant at all times.

Though some foreign nationals have been among the victims in the border region, there is no evidence to suggest that they have been targeted because of their nationality. Visitors to border areas should exercise caution and follow the advice of local authorities.

Violent crime, including gun crime, is not limited to the border areas. Incidents rarely involve tourists, but visitors should exercise caution when travelling in unfamiliar areas. Research your destination before travelling and seek local advice about areas with high levels of criminal activity.

Safety and Security - Local Travel - Road Travel
If you intend to drive then an International Driving Permit is recommended. If you are on a fly-drive holiday then a UK driving licence is required for each driver. If you have a photo card licence you should remember to also bring the green 'paper' counterpart licence with you. You should also ensure that your car rental insurance covers occupants of your vehicle and any third party claims, including personal injury.

Most car rental companies offer electronic toll fee payment facilities which will allow you to automatically pay for your toll fees. The toll fee payment facilities must be hired for the duration of your rental and will allow you to use the electronic lanes on toll roads. Be sure to discuss with your rental car company their policy on toll fees.

You should learn US traffic laws before coming to the country. For example, both the speed and drink driving limits are lower than in the UK.

It is worthwhile buying a detailed road atlas of the areas through which you are travelling.

Find out the prevailing weather conditions before embarking on a long journey, e.g.  in mountainous and isolated areas where there is increased likelihood of snowfall, or in dry desert areas where you may need extra water and petrol stations could be scarce.

In 2011 there were 32,310 road deaths in the USA (Source: DfT). This equates to 10.5 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 3.0 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2011.

See our Driving Abroad page.

Safety and Security - Local Travel - Air Travel
No matter what the purpose of your visit, air travel in the USA can be an essential part of your trip. Visit the US Federal Aviation Administration (http://www.faa.gov/) site for current US airline information and travel tips.

At every US commercial airport, large and small, you will meet the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Security Officers who are tasked with YOUR travel security.

Please take a moment to become familiar with some of the TSA security measures. Doing so now will help save you time once you arrive at the airport.

Do not make flippant remarks about bombs or terrorism, especially when passing through US airports.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has a helpline number designed to assist passengers with disabilities and medical conditions to call before they fly. Travellers can call the toll free helpline number before traveling if they have questions about screening policies, procedures or what to expect when they arrive at the airport security checkpoint. This line is available not only to passengers with disabilities and medical conditions, but also to their family members and travel companions who can speak to a knowledgeable representative to answer questions about airport security prior to travel.

TSA Cares Helpline: 1-855-787-2227: The line is open Monday to Friday 09:00 – 21:00 EST, excluding federal holidays.

After hours, travellers can find information about travelling with disabilities and medical needs on TSA’s website.

Safety and Security - Local Travel - Arctic
If you are planning an Arctic cruise, or are travelling to Arctic areas, see our page on Arctic travel.

Safety and Security - Political Situation

USA Country Profile

When you are in the United States of America, all federal, state and local laws apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the British Government will do what it can to help you but we cannot get you out of trouble or out of jail.

If you get into any difficulties with US Authorities, you should explain to them that you are a British national and ask to speak to a UK consular officer. See our When Things Go Wrong page.

In the USA, laws vary from State to State. The law you should follow is that of the State in which you are physically present. When you are physically present in a state, even temporarily, you are subject to that State’s laws, and, in many cases, to the jurisdiction of its courts.

The plant Khat (or Qat) is an illegal narcotic in the US. You will be arrested and detained with the possibility of a prison sentence for illicit trafficking of a controlled substance.

US Federal Law requires that all foreign nationals carry immigration documentation - e.g. a passport showing that you have leave to enter or remain – at all times while in the USA. Some States (Arizona, Utah, Indiana, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama) introduced legislation designed to identify and reduce the number of illegal immigrants in their States. These measures include authorisation for police officers to detain individuals they suspect of being in the United States illegally. Although some of the measures are being contested in the courts, it is important that you have your documents available for scrutiny if you are asked by law enforcement officials to present them wherever you are in the United States. .


See our Your Trip page.

Entry Requirements - Passport Validity
Your passport must be valid for the proposed duration of your stay; you do not need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this. However, it is always sensible to have a short period of extra validity on your passport in case of any unforeseen delays to your departure. You do not have to wait until your old passport expires to apply to renew it. Any time left on your old passport when you apply will be added to your new passport, up to a maximum of nine months. For passport applications in the UK, you should apply to the Identity and Passport Service.

Travel under the Visa Waiver Programme is restricted to travellers possessing passports with specified security features. See our Frequently Asked Questions for further information.

Applicants arriving in the United States with a non-compliant passport may be required to undergo further processing and/or be denied admission. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may exercise discretion at the ports of entry in cases of medical or other emergency travel.

Entry Requirements - Visa Waiver Programme (VWP)
The US Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) allows most British Citizen passport holders to visit the US for up to 90 days. The types of journeys that are permissible under the VWP include general travel/tourism, certain types of business and when transiting to another country.

The US requires all those travelling under the Visa Waiver Programme arriving by air or sea to provide details online at least 72 hours prior to travel. This is known as an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation or ESTA. This is mandatory. If you do not have an ESTA you will be refused travel to the USA.  For more information, and to apply online, please visit the official ESTA website . ESTA is valid for a period of two years, or the validity of the traveller's passport (whichever is shorter). The US Customs and Border Protection department apply a $14 charge for an ESTA. All payments must be made by credit card.  If you do not have Internet access a third party, such as a relative or travel agent, may apply for the ESTA for you.  However, you will still be responsible under the law for the questions answered on your behalf. VWP travellers should be aware that unauthorised third parties have established websites which charge for information about ESTA and for submitting applications. These are not endorsed by, associated with, or affiliated in any way with the United States Government. UK travellers are advised to be wary of such sites and businesses, particularly those that seek additional fees for services offered.  Obtaining an ESTA should not be confused with the separate requirement, which will continue to apply, for you to provide your airline or carrier with details of your passport, country of residence and address of your first night's accommodation in the US.

If you are arriving in the USA by land from either Canada or Mexico, and you qualify for entry to the USA under the VWP, you do not need to complete an ESTA prior to arrival. However, you will be required to complete an I-94W form on arrival at the border, and pay a processing fee.

While in the U.S. under the VWP, you may go to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean and re-enter the U.S. using the ESTA and admission stamp you were issued when you first arrived in the U.S., although the time you spend there is included in the 90 days allotted for your visit.

If you go to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean, and while you are there, your initial 90-day period of entry expires, but you need to come back in to the U.S. to fly home, you may encounter a problem. The terms of the VWP are very clear - it is only to be used for occasional, short visits to the U.S. If the CBP Officer thinks you are trying to "reset" the clock by making a short trip out of the U.S. and re-entering for another 90-day period, you can be denied entry.

Granting entry under the VWP is a matter for the US authorities and travellers are advised to check they meet the entry requirements here.

The British Consulate General in Toronto has reported some cases of British nationals being denied re-entry into the USA under the VWP after a previous stay in the US. Travellers who have been admitted to the USA under the Visa Waiver Programme and who make a short trip to Canada generally can be readmitted to the United States under the VWP as long as they still meet the requirements of the VWP.  Granting entry under the VWP is a matter for the US authorities and travellers are advised to check they meet the entry requirements at http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel.

More details are available on the VWP and other aspects of US immigration at the following websites:

If you have any doubts about whether you are eligible to enter the US under the VWP, or about visa matters generally, you are advised to contact the US Embassy in London before your travel. The Visa Information line is 0904 245 0100 (calls are charged at £1.23 per minute plus network extras). Further information can also be found on the US Customs and Border Protection website.

Entry Requirements - Emergency Travel Documents (ETD)
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETD) are not valid for entry into the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).  Holders of an ETD must apply for the appropriate US visa.

Entry Requirements - HIV
The US Department of State has removed HIV Infection from the list of communicable diseases of public health significance. This means that HIV infection will no longer be an inadmissible condition. Applicants who are travelling to the United States on or after 4 January 2010 who are otherwise qualified may travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program.

Entry Requirements - Frequently Asked Questions

Do I qualify to travel under the VWP or do I need a visa?

Several million British nationals travel to the US annually under the VWP without any problems. Only people described as a "British Citizen" on the photo page in their passport qualify to enter the US under the VWP. If you are described as a "British Subject", "British National (Overseas)", "British Overseas Territories Citizen", "British Dependent Territories Citizen", "British Protected Person" or "British Overseas Citizen", you will need a visa.

You will also probably need a visa if you fall into one of the following categories (Note: this list is not exhaustive).

You intend to stay longer than 90 days
You intend to travel to the US for a reason other than business, pleasure or transit
You are conducting official government business
You have been arrested (even if not convicted)
You have a criminal record
You have a serious, communicable disease
You have been refused entry to the US on a previous occasion
You have been deported from the US
You have overstayed during a previous visit

If you are unsure, or if you think that your situation falls into any of the above categories, you should consult the US Embassy in London - you must do this well in advance of any plans to travel.

Does my British passport allow me to travel under the VWP?

The type of passport required for travel under the Visa Waiver Program will depend on the date on which it was issued:

  • Passports issued, renewed/extended before October 26, 2005 must be machine-readable; the machine readable zone (MRZ) is at the foot of the photo page and contains 2 lines of text as letters, numbers and chevrons (>>>>).  
  • Passports issued, renewed/extended between October 26, 2005 and October 25, 2006 must also contain a digital photograph.
  • Passports issued, renewed/extended on or after October 26, 2006, must have integrated chips.


My child is included in my passport is that OK?

No - each person entering under the VWP must have their own MRZ passport.

Can I extend my stay under the VWP?

No - US Immigration does not grant extensions beyond 90 days.  If you would like to stay in the US for longer than 90 days, you will need to apply for a visa before travelling.  For those already in the US hoping to extend beyond 90 days, you will need to depart the US and apply for a visa.

What is the Electronic System for Travel Authorization?

ESTA is an automated system used to determine the eligibility of visitors arriving by air or sea to travel to the United States under the VWP.

Why is a travel authorization via ESTA required for VWP travellers?

U.S. legislation required the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to implement an electronic travel authorization system and other measures to enhance the security of the VWP. ESTA adds a layer of security that allows DHS to determine, in advance of travel, whether an individual is eligible to travel to the United States under the VWP and whether such travel poses a law enforcement or security risk.

How far in advance of my trip do I need to apply for travel authorisation?

Applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel. We recommend that travel authorization applications be submitted as early as possible, as soon as travel is planned. DHS realizes that not all travel is planned in advance, and applications for last-minute or emergency travel will be accommodated.

How long is my travel authorisation valid?

Travel authorizations are generally valid for two years, or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. A visitor may travel to the U.S. repeatedly within the validity period without having to apply for another ESTA.

Do I ever need to reapply for travel authorisation through the ESTA?

Yes, there are instances when a new travel authorization via ESTA would be required. If you have acquired a new passport, had a change of name, gender, or citizenship, or if the answers to any of the “yes or no” ESTA questions have changed, a new application must be submitted. Also, once the travel authorization expires, a new travel authorization via ESTA is required. Applicants may also update their destination addresses or itineraries should they change after their ESTA has been approved, although this will not be required.

How much time does it take for the system to process my application?

Once a traveller’s application has been successfully submitted online, in most cases an almost immediate determination of eligibility for travel is provided.

If a traveller is approved through ESTA to travel to the United States, does that mean that the traveller can enter the country?

Not necessarily.  An ESTA approval only authorises a traveller to board a carrier for travel to the US under the VWP.  An approved ESTA is not a guarantee of admissibility to the US at a port of entry.  In all cases, Customs and Border officials make admissibility determinations at US ports of entry or pre-clearance facilities.

Do VWP travellers need to bring a paper printout of their ESTA approval to the airport?

No. The DHS will be able to communicate a travellers ESTA status with the carriers, but it is recommended that you print out the ESTA application response in order to maintain a record of your ESTA application number and of your confirmation status.

The ability to Transit Without Visa (TWOV) in the US has been suspended. Those travellers who are passing through the United States ‘in transit’ but are not eligible for the Visa Waiver Programme must obtain a visa prior to travel.

Does my British passport have to be valid for six months beyond my date of departure from the United States?

No, your passport needs to remain valid only for the duration of your stay in the United States.

If you are travelling visa free under the Visa Waiver Program and your passport is not valid for 90 days, you will be admitted into the United States until the date on which the passport expires.


I have a US criminal record - is that a problem?



US Criminal Records are linked to US Immigration databases.  If you have a previous conviction in the US; if you have violated your probation; or if you think you may have a US arrest warrant against you, we advise that you consult the US Embassy in London before travelling.  Failure to do so may result in detention and/or deportation.  Exclusion periods for aliens with previous convictions are as follows:

3 years - After being found inadmissible as an arriving alien.
10 years - Being ordered removed/excluded.
20 years - After being found inadmissible and having previously been excluded, deported or removed (i.e.  illegal re-entry).
Life - Aggravated Felonies.

I have a UK criminal record - is that a problem?
Travellers who have been arrested, even if the arrest did not result in a criminal conviction, and those with criminal records are not eligible to travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program. The website of the US Embassy in London has further information.


Is dual nationality allowed?

Under US law if you or your children are dual UK-US nationals travelling between both countries, you should travel with both passports. US law also requires that dual US nationals use their US passport to enter and exit the country - those who attempt to travel on their foreign passport risk being denied boarding.  Further information can be obtained from the US State Department (see above).

What do I do if I have renounced my US citizenship?

If you have renounced your US citizenship, you should carry a copy of your Certificate of Loss of Nationality when you travel to or from the US.  If you do not, you may not be allowed to board your aircraft.

What will happen on arrival in the US?


Upon arrival, a US Customs and Border Protection officer will guide you through the inspection process, so have your travel documents ready, such as passport and ESTA.

The officer will review your travel documents and ask questions, such as why you are visiting and for how long.

The officer will scan up to 10 of your fingerprints and take your photograph with a digital camera.

Make sure you are clear about the length of time the officer has authorised you to remain in the US, particularly if you are re-entering the country under the same ESTA.

The above arrival information can also be found at the US Department of Homeland Security website.

US-VISIT: The US Department of Homeland Security's US-VISIT program provides visa-issuing posts and ports of entry with the biometric technology that enables the U.S. government to establish and verify your identity when you visit the United States.

In many cases, this process begins overseas at a U.S. visa issuing post, where a traveller's biometrics - digital fingerprints and a photograph - are collected and checked against a watch list of known criminals and suspected terrorists. When the traveller arrives in the United States, U.S. Immigration officials collect the same biometrics to verify that the person at the entry port is the same person who received the visa. Immigration officials use this information to help them make visa-issuance and admission decisions as part of the visa application process or entry inspection.

Unlike names and dates of birth, which can be changed, biometrics are unique and virtually impossible to forge. Collecting biomtrics helps the U.S. government prevent people from using fraudulent documents to enter the country illegally. Collecting biometrics also helps protect your identity in the event your travel documents are lost or stolen.

US-VISIT currently applies to all international visitors (with limited exemptions) entering the United States (this includes visitors travelling under the Visa Waiver program).

Are there special considerations for lone parents travelling with children?

Lone parents travelling with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility.  For further information on rules for the US please contact the US Embassy in London.

How do I apply for a visa?

Most applicants for US visas are required to attend an interview at a US Embassy or Consulate prior to issue. The waiting time for an interview varies. The US Embassy in London finger-scans visa applicants. US immigration policy is a matter for the US authorities.  The FCO is unable to intervene if you are refused a visa.

If you are in the United States and hold a C, E, H, I, L, O or P visa, you are obliged to leave the country if you wish to renew or change your visa status. For further information, we recommend that you visit the State Department website (see above) for more details or consult an attorney specialising in immigration law.

What can I do if I had a problem entering the US?


The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has launched the DHS Traveller Redress Inquiry Programme (DHS TRIP). This is a single point of contact for individuals who have inquiries or seek resolution regarding difficulties they experienced during their entry into the United States.  For further information, we recommend that you visit the US Department of Homeland Security website.

What medicines can I bring into the US?

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has imposed restrictions and prohibitions on the importation of a number of prescription drugs into the United States. The US Department for Homeland Security website contains further information and advice on bringing pharmaceuticals and controlled substances into the US. If you have any questions as to whether a specific pharmaceutical may be imported into the United States, contact the FDA, Division of Import Operations and Policy, on 1-888-463-6332.

Contact your GP around eight weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and useful information about healthcare abroad, including a country-by-country guide of reciprocal health care agreements with the UK, is available from NHS Choices.

Medical treatment can be very expensive; there are no special arrangements for British visitors. The British Embassy and Consulates-General cannot assist you with medical expenses. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 911 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Our Travel Health pages offer further advice on how to stay healthy when overseas.

Health - Mosquito Protection
Besides being a general nuisance, mosquitoes can transmit diseases. There are occasional outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases in the United States, including West Nile virus (WNV), Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and Dengue fever. You can find out more about the symptoms of West Nile on the Centers for Disease Control website.

You should take all precautions against mosquito bites whenever possible and seek medical attention immediately if feeling unwell. See NaTHNaC's advice for travellers to the United States.

To protect against insect bites, follow the “5 D’s” of prevention:

  • Dusk and Dawn - avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, during the dusk and dawn hours.
  • Dress - wear clothing that covers skin.
  • DEET - use mosquito repellents including DEET on skin and clothing.
  • Drainage - Empty all areas of standing water, a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Health - Hantavirus
The risk of hantavirus to most travellers is generally considered to be low. However, those who may be in close proximity with rodents, such as travellers undertaking activities in rural areas, e.g. camping or hiking should take certain precautions. See this advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre.

Yosemite National Park continues its public health response and outreach as a result of confirmed cases of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome in individuals who spent one or more nights in the park between June 10 and late August of this year. Yosemite National Park updates its website daily to reflect current important information.

Health - HIV/AIDS
In the 2010 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 1,200,000 adults aged 15 or over in the USA were living with HIV; the prevalence percentage was estimated at around 0.6% of the adult population compared to the prevalence percentage in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. For more general information on how to do this see HIV and AIDS page.

Natural Disasters - Hurricanes


The hurricane season normally runs from June to November and can affect the whole of the southern USA. You can monitor the progress of storms on the US National Hurricane Centre website.

See our Tropical cyclones page for further advice about what to do if you are caught up in a hurricane.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) website also contains information about how to prepare for extreme weather conditions and what to do if you are told to evacuate. It also provides a useful list of disaster supplies that will help if you live in an area affected by storms and hurricanes.

Natural Disasters - Earthquakes
The West Coast of the United States of America, (including Hawaii and Alaska) and the US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, are prone to earthquakes. To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, see this advice from the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Natural Disasters - Tornadoes
These destructive forces of nature are found most frequently in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains during the spring and summer months. In an average year, 800 tornadoes are reported nationwide.

In the southern states, peak tornado occurrence is in March through May, while peak months in the northern states are during the summer. To learn more about tornadoes and what you should do during, and after an event, visit http://www.noaa.gov/wx.html.


Natural Disasters - Wild Fires

Forest and brush fires (wild fires) are a danger in many dry areas in the US. The greatest fire risk is during a period of dry weather and high winds, which can cause fires to spread very rapidly. Areas of high risk are canyons, hills and forests where dry vegetation and high winds can cause wild fires to move very quickly and threaten property, especially where urban areas abut wild land. You should monitor local media reports about such fires and follow the advice of local law enforcement officials.

The following websites can provide up-to-date information on wildfires:

www.nifc.gov - the National Interagency Fire Center website

www.geomac.gov - the US Geospatial Multi-Agency Coordination Group

Natural Disasters - Wild Fires - California

http://www.calfires.com for general information on wild fires in California
http://www.fire.ca.gov - includes statewide fire map identifying the locations of fires;

Natural Disasters - Wild Fires - Other States

http://azsf.az.gov/fire_information/ - for general information on wild fires in Arizona
http://www.utahfireinfo.gov/ - for general information on wild fires in Utah
http://txforestservice.tamu.edu/main/default.aspx - for general information on wild fires in Texas

www.coemergency.com - for general information on wild fires in Colorado.

www.floridadisaster.org/EMTOOLS/wildfire/wildfire.htm - for general information on wild fires in Florida

http://nmfireinfo.com/ - for general information on wild fires in New Mexico

www.wyfireinfo.wy.gov - for general information on wild fires in Wyoming


Natural Disasters - Snow Storms
Snow storms during winter can cause delays and cancellations throughout the major airline hubs in the USA. Be sure to contact your tour operator or airline for current flight information before travelling. To monitor airport conditions in the USA, visit the Federal Aviation Administration website.

General - Insurance
Comprehensive travel and medical insurance is essential; at least $1,000,000 cover, which includes hospital treatment and medical evacuation to the UK, would be wise. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. See our Travel Insurance page.

If things go wrong when overseas see our When Things Go Wrong page.

General - Registration

Register with our LOCATE service to tell us when and where you are travelling abroad or where you live abroad so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance to you in an emergency. 

General - Consular Assistance Statistics
Around 5.5 million British nationals visit the United States every year (Source: US Department of Homeland Security). Most visits are trouble-free. 1,822 British nationals required consular assistance in the USA in period 01 April 2011 - 31 March 2012 for the following types of incident: 210 deaths; 143 hospitalisations; and 1,305 arrests, for a variety of offences. The majority of cases occur in New York City; the tourist areas in Florida (principally Orlando and Miami); and Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Contacts

United States, Washington, British Embassy

Address:

British Embassy
3100 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington DC 20008

Fax:


Office hours:

GMT:
Mon-Fri: 1400-2230

Local Time:
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