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Practical information United States of America

By Dmitry Petrounin Dmitry Petrounin Section editor Profile

United States of America : Travel Information before you go!

Area

3794085 sq.mi

Languages

English is the official language of the United States and is spoken throughout the whole country. Although not an official language, Spanish is widely spoken, espcially in the south. You'll also find pockets of the country speaking French as well as a few native languages fighting for survival.

Population

36,553,215 inhabitants

Flights

  • California :

    13 hrs to 16 hrs 30 mins. Sacramento is 5, 277 mi from London.
  • Florida :

    London to Orlando is 9 hours; Tampa is 9.5 and Miami is 10.

  • Alaska :

    At the moment, there are no direct flights from the UK. The journey takes between 15 and 20 hours depending on the stopover.
  • Hawaii :

    There are no direct flights from the UK to Hawaii. The journey takes approximately 20 hours from London, including any stopover. Stopovers are usually in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Denver, Chicago or Dallas. There are no low-cost flights to Hawaii and most flights to this destination are operated by American Airlines.
  • Western USA :

    Many different airlines fly to the Western United States from the UK, including Air France, American Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways, British Airways and KLM. Travellers usually have to take at least one connecting flight, either in Europe or the US.

    Direct flights with American Airways from London and Manchester to Seattle take around 11 hours.

  • Midwestern USA :

    Chicago and Detroit are the most easily accessible cities by plane from the UK. American Airlines operates daily flights from London, with a flight time of about 9 hours.
  • Northeastern USA :

    The average direct flight time from London is 7 hours. The airline companies that heavily serve this region are American Airways, Delta Airlines, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.
  • Southern USA :

    There are a large number of airlines that regularly fly to these destinations, such as Delta Airlines, American Airlines, United, US Airways, British Airways, KLM and Air France. Generally speaking, there is usually at least one stopover, either in Europe or the US. British Airways offers direct flights to Dallas in about 9 hours and to Atlanta in about 8 hours.

Required travel documents for United States of America

British citizens' passports must be valid for the entire duration of their time in the United States, however, there is no need to have extra validity beyond this. That said, it is always wise to have some extra time on there just in case of any unforseen circumstances that arise while you are in the US which might delay your departure.

Those with 'British Citizen' marked on the photo page of their passport do not need a visa to enter the United States and qualify to travel under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Travellers with any other status appearing on their passport, as well as those who fall into a number of other categories, will have to apply for a visa at the US embassy.

Those who are able to go to the US under the VWP must complete an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) applicaiton as soon as possible before their date of travel. This application determines an individual's eligibility to enter the country. Once accepted, you will be free to travel under the same application for a period of 2 years, or until your passport runs out (if it expires within those two years). After two years you will have to re-apply. You will also need to re-apply for the ESTA if any of your personal details change.

For full details for entry requirements into the US, go to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.

Religion

Protestantism is the main religion in the United States, but with the large community of Latin Americans living in California, Catholicism is also widely represented. The Jewish, Buddhist, and Muslim religions are also represented, as well as a litany of more or less eccentric sects and cults, inspired by the way of life called the "new age".

Currency

The currency is the United States Dollar (USD), the rate of which can fluctuate quite significantly (so withdraw or change a small amount at a time). The dollar consists of 100 cents. The country has many bureaux de change, and you'll have no problem cashing travellers cheques, but the exchange rates offered at the airports are higher than those you'll find in towns. There are plenty of ATM machines and 24-hour banking facilities in all the towns, enabling you to withdraw cash anywhere with any international credit card. Payment by card is common, but cheques are rarely used. Banks are generally open from 9:00am to 4:00pm from Monday to Friday and from 9:00am to 1:00pm on Saturdays.

Transport

Getting around the United States can be as easy or as difficult as you want! Of course for the most amount of freedom, a car is by far the best option. A vehicle-friendly nation, you can get just about anywhere by car. The minimum age required to hire a car in the US changes according to the rental company and the state, but in a wide number of cases you must be a minimum of 25 to be covered by the insurance they provide. Speed limits also differ from state to state so if you are travelling inter-state make sure you know the different rules so as not to get caught out. There are a plethora of rental agencies present in every state meaning you can pick up in one place and drop off in another.

Other options for getting around the country are by internal flight (operated by all major US airlines as well as some local ones such as Jet Blue, Southwest, Virgin etc), Amtrack (the rail network, although there are huge chunks of the country not served by the company) or by bus (much slower, but cheap, reliable and it serves more destinations). Greyhound and Peter Pan are two of the largest bus companies operating in the US.

Health

No particular vaccine is required, but very good health insurance is strongly recommended (care and repatriation costs) in case of an illness or accident as medical costs are very expensive in the United States.

Electricity

Voltage in the United States is 110 V, 60 Hz. Electrical plugs have two or three flat pins. Adaptor needed.

Attendance

There were 62 million international visitors ot the US in 2011.

Taxes

In general, prices in the United States do not include tax, so make sure you factor that in before making a purchase. You can find the different rates here.

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