Visas are a thorn in the side of frequent travelers. Determining whether or not you need a visa for your holiday abroad isn’t always simple and sometimes the visa process isn’t clear-cut; the requirements for a given country may differ according to how you enter (by land, sea, air) or how long you will stay. But there’s good news: US Passport holders can travel visa-free on short holidays to most of our world’s countries. This page can help you decide whether or not you need a tourist visa as a US passport holder headed to common destinations.
Visit Our Neighbors Visa-Free
When you are travelling to Mexico or Canada with a U.S. Passport, no visa is required for a stay of up to 180 days. You will need to fill out an immigration card on arrival to Mexico.
Fortunately for US passport holders, visiting Europe is simple and unless you have specific restrictions placed on your individual passport, you can visit Europe for extensive periods visa-free* and achieving free access for long periods if you move around different visa jurisdictions.
The following countries are in what is called the Schengen Area which is seen as one jurisdiction without border control and one visa policy: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway (excluding Svalbard), Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. The Schengen Area includes most of the EU, except for Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, and Romania. Non-EU members Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein are a part of the Schengen Area.
*The Schengen Visa is a tourist and business visa but you do not need to formally apply for anything. The”visa” is automatically issued to US Passport holders when they arrive in a Schengen country but is not a visa-on-arrival. If you’re planning to visit say France for 2 weeks (or two months) and you read something about a “Schengen Visa”don’t panic, you don’t need to do anything. The Schengen Visa grants travel to member countries for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. It DOES NOT allow you to become a resident or get a job.
When you are traveling to United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) with a U.S. Passport, no visa required for a stay of up to six months.
When you are traveling to Ireland with a U.S. Passport, no visa required for a stay of up to three months.
When you are traveling to Dominican Republic or Belize with a U.S. Passport, no visa required for a stay of up to 30 days. Jamaica is visa-free for up to 90 days. No Visa is required to visit The Bahamas.
Other Commonly Visited Countries
When you are traveling to Argentina with a U.S. Passport, no visa is required for a stay of under 90 days. Be aware that there is a reciprocity fee charged upon entering the country, and a departure tax when leaving the country by air (normally included in your plane ticket).
When you are traveling to Australia a visa or Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) is REQUIRED. Most U.S. passport holders traveling to Australia for tourism or business purposes for less than 90 days can obtain an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) for a fee. Airlines and many travel agencies are also able to apply for ETAs on behalf of travelers.
When you are traveling to China a visa is REQUIRED. Apply for a ten-year multiple entry visa, useful for repeated travel or trips to Hong Kong or Macau with returns to China. Visit the website of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China for current visa information.
When you are traveling to Colombia with a U.S. Passport, no visa is required for a stay of up to 90 days.
When you are traveling to Costa Rica with a U.S. Passport, no visa is required for a stay of under 90 days.
When you are traveling to Japan with a U.S. Passport, no visa is required for a stay of under 90 days.
When you are traveling to India a visa is REQUIRED U.S. citizens seeking to enter India solely for tourist purposes, and who plan to stay no longer than 60 days, may apply for an electronic travel authorization at least four days prior to their arrival in lieu of applying for a tourist visa at an Indian embassy or consulate. Please visit the Indian government’s website for electronic travel authorization.
When you are traveling to Morocco with a U.S. Passport, no visa is required for a stay of under 90 days.
When you are traveling to New Zealand with a U.S. Passport, no visa is required for a stay of under three months.
When you are traveling to the Philippines with a U.S. Passport, no visa is required for a stay of under 30 days.
Goodness, yes, you need a visa! The tourist visa process for Russia is notoriously long. Please begin your research and work on the visa 4-6 months before you intend to visit. Don’t be discouraged though. Just remain organized during the process.
When you are traveling to South Korea with a U.S. Passport, no visa is required for a stay of under 90 days.
When you are traveling to Taiwan with a U.S. Passport, no visa is required for a stay of under 90 days.
When you are traveling to Thailand with a U.S. Passport, no visa is required for a stay of under 30 days. You may leave Thailand and do a “border run” and return one day later to extend your stay but may only visit for a total of 90 days in a 6 month period. I did this and it is a common strategy for backpackers wishing to stay in Thailand for longer than 30 days or who are starting and ending a long trip to SE Asia in Thailand (usually flying to/from Bangkok).
Whether you need a visa or not, please note that to enter most countries you need a passport valid for six months after your arrival date and two (or more) blank passport pages. Also many countries require proof of an outbound journey. Specifics will vary and some countries require as many as six blank passport pages (when I was bouncing around Asia in 2018, I filled up five pages in three months so plan ahead if space is tight). Check specific requirements before visiting any country and don’t try going abroad if your passport expires within 90 days or you have less than two blank pages remaining. You could be refused entry to your destination. That’s a sign it’s time for a new passport.