Is a visa required for traveling to Hawaii? : ESTA Online Center

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Is a visa required for traveling to Hawaii?

Is a visa required for traveling to Hawaii?

It is not necessary to apply for visa only if traveling to Hawaii within 90days of sightseeing, short-term business trip or transit, however ESTA application is mandatory. Under Visa Waiver Program (VWP), the system established by U.S. government, those approved for Travel Authorization through ESTA are permitted to travel to Hawaii without holding visa. Although visa is not required for general trip to Hawaii, be sure to apply for ESTA before travel.
Those who have been denied entry to the U.S., have not approved of visa application, or have criminal record in the past may not be permitted to travel by ESTA, and may receive the notification of “Travel authorization declined”. Those who fit in those situations would not be eligible for applying for ESTA, therefore consider apply for visa at the U.S. embassy. In addition, under the Terrorist Travel Prevention Act, those who have traveled or stayed in Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, or North Korea after March 1, 2011 are not authorized to travel to the U.S. by ESTA in general.
Due to the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease 2019) infection in each country, U.S. government is restricting the immigration since March 2020.
US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. embassy recommend applying for ESTA as soon as your trip to Hawaii become concrete. ESTA is a mandatory travel authorization system for all ages traveling to Hawaii. Apply ESTA for all your family and group members when traveling together.

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Countries participating in the Visa Waiver program (VWP)

  • Germany
  • France
  • Finland
  • Estonia
  • Denmark
  • Czech Republic
  • Chile
  • Brunei
  • Belgium
  • Austria
  • Australia
  • Andorra
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Japan
  • Taiwan
  • South Korea
  • San Marino
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Spain
  • Ireland
  • Iceland
  • Hungary
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Monaco
  • Malta
  • Latvia
  • Lichtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • United Kingdom
  • Poland

The VWP is available to British subjects only if they have permanent residency in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Mann, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, or Wales.

Conditions of eligibility for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

  1. Must have “Travel Authorization” under ESTA (the Electric System for Travel Authorization)
  2. Staying period in the U.S, including Hawaii must be within 90 days
  3. Must be a national of the participating nation in the VWP, and holds valid passport
  4. The purpose of the travel must be the followings: sightseeing, business, short-term training, contractual negotiations, visiting friend/acquaintance, participation in event/contest without reward, or for the transit.
  5. Must have a round-trip ticket, or one for the next destination when entering the U.S. by sea or air. It is recommended to carry a copy of travel itinerary on paper for e-ticket.

For more information on VWP

Requirements for the entry to Hawaii

A valid passport

Passport requirements Since April 1, 2016, carry an e-passport (with an IC chip) became a requirement for those traveling to the U.S. under ESTA. An e-passport has logo on the cover showing that is with IC chip.

A certificate of testing (PCR) for COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease) confirmed negative which is taken within a day to departure

Requirements for certificate confirmed negative It is required to have certificate of testing for COVID-19 confirmed negative from PCR test taken within a day to departure. The certificate is required to be written in English and need to be carried with you since it would be requested to show before boarding the aircraft, and at the immigration on arrival. A PCR test is subjected to those who age 2 (including those becoming 2 in that year) and over.

Certificate of Vaccination Completion (Certificate of COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease) Vaccination Completion for Traveling Overseas)

Requirements for Certificate of Vaccination Completion Certificate of COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease) vaccination completion for traveling overseas is required to enter Hawaii from outside of the U.S. The certificate is required to be written in English, and either official documents issued by local government or digital data is accepted. It is required to complete your 2nd vaccination more than 14 days prior to your traveling date, or else you would not be allowed to get aboard.

Note :
A previous requirement of pre-travel testing Safe Travels Program (Travel & Health form) for entry to Hawaii was removed as of March 25th, 2022.

Round trip air/sea ticket or air/sea ticket heading for third country from Hawaii

Immigration document

Enter the country under ESTA Customs declaration
ESTA authorization information is not required to show at the arrival airport.
Enter the country under visa I-94 form (arrival/departure record), customs declaration

Note :
I-94 form and custom declaration will be issued on the return air/sea craft. Fill out the form in Roman alphabet with black or blue ball-point pen.


From arrival to immigration

1. To the immigration screening area

On the arrival at the airport, follow guidance of the staff and head to immigration area.

2. What to do at the immigration area

Stand in line of immigration screening for non-resident. Step forward once the immigration officer calls, then show your passport, customs declaration, I-94 form (visa holder only), and certificate of COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease) vaccination completion. Fingerprints and face photo will be taken after answering questions such as purpose of visit and the length of stay. The certificate of testing for COVID-19 confirmed negative from PCR test taken at medical institute must be written in English and it must be within a day to departure.

Required items at the immigration area

  • Valid passport
  • A certificate of testing for COVID-19 confirmed negative from PCR test taken within a day to departure
  • A certificate of vaccination completion (Certificate of COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease) vaccination completion for traveling overseas)
  • Personal information that Hawaii state health department can reach (cell phone number and address of your stay)
  • Customs declaration

Automated Passport Control (APC) “kiosk“

Automated Passport Control (APC) “kiosk” is available at Daniel K. Inoue international airport on Oahu. Kiosk is a passport control terminal system subjected for those who are re-entering the U.S. under ESTA with travel history to the country with ESTA since 2009. By kiosk, you can scan passport, record fingerprints, and take head shot on your own without having immigration officer and that shortens time for immigration procedures. On the other hand, if the passport has been renewed, kiosk would not be available even for those who entered the U.S. with ESTA before. Please be advised that regular immigration procedure will be required if your passport has been renewed.
Other than Daniel K. Inoue airport, APC kiosks are installed at major U.S. airports.

Who Is Eligible to Use APC?

U.S. and Canadian passport holders and international visitors from Visa Waiver Program countries are eligible to use APC kiosks. Visa Waiver Program visitors must have Electronic System for Travel Authorizations (ESTA) approval prior to travel and have visited the United States on at least one occasion after 2008.”

For more information on kiosk (APC)

Procedures of how to use an Auto Passport Control (APC) “kiosk”

  • Select your language (Japanese available)
  • Follow the instructions and scan your passport
  • Take an identification photograph
  • Answer questions on your customs declaration, personal information, and travel information
  • Record your fingerprints

An APC receipt for the entry will be issued after completing these procedures. Submit this receipt to the immigration officer.

3. Collect your baggage

Go to Baggage Claim to pick up your baggage(s)
Since baggage is carried by luggage carrousel, wait in front of the one showing your boarding flight number and pick up your luggage by checking claim tag.
In many cases they are arranged on the floor already, check them as well.

4. Go to exit by passing customs

Submit a customs declaration and head for the exit. Follow inspector’s instruction in case your luggage was randomly selected for X-ray inspection.

 The latest information on immigration procedures in Hawaii (2022)

More detailed explanation! The latest information on entering Hawaii in 2023

Upon arrival in Hawaii, you are required to go through various procedures including immigration. If you are traveling abroad for the first time and are not comfortable with English, the immigration process can be a nerve-wracking experience. The following is an explanation of the immigration process to help dispel any anxiety you may have.

Make sure to have your belongings with you when exit the aircraft

Daniel K. Inoue International Airport in Honolulu provides expedited immigration clearance for arriving travelers. Be sure to have your belongings with you when exiting from the aircraft, and follow the directions of the flight crew or airport staff. Get on the wiki wiki Shuttle, a two-car train that stops near the tarmac, and head to the immigration area. If the bus is full, wait there for the next bus. You will arrive at the entrance of the immigration area after a few minutes ride.

Follow the directions to the “Foreign Passport” immigration area

Follow the directions to the immigration area after getting off the bus. Japanese nationals should line up at the “Foreign Passport” counter on the left side of the main entrance since foreign travelers and U.S. citizens have different window. The window labeled “American Citizen” is for U.S. citizens.

Check the required documents while waiting

When you get to the “Foreign Passport” window, be prepared to submit the required documents right away. Wait in line until the immigration officer calls “Next”. The immigration process is becoming increasingly electronic in the U.S., and the use of “Kiosks” (APCs) is recommended at the Daniel K. Inoue International Airport as well.

Questions at the immigration would be in English

The immigration inspector will ask the traveler questions in English about his/her purpose and length of stay. Review the general questions asked at immigration.

(1) What is the purpose of your trip?

If you are asked, “What is the purpose of your trip?”
If it is for a sightseeing, please answer “Sightseeing”

(2) If you are asked, “How long are you staying?”

Answer the number of days of your stay, e.g. “5 days” for 5 days, “One week” for 7 days. You may be asked “When are you going back home?” instead of the number of days you are staying in the U.S. In that case, answer the date of your return flight. If you are unable to give the date in English immediately, present your return ticket.

(3) If you are asked, “Where are you going to be staying?”

Please provide the name of the hotel or the address of the family/friend’s home where you will be staying in Hawaii. If you have difficulty answering in English, present your accommodation on the customs declaration form.
If you do not understand the meaning of the question, reply “Please once more”. The immigration officer will give you specific examples such as “sightseeing?” or “5days? You can answer with “Yes” or “No”. As a general rule, questions related to immigration are to be exchanged in English. Keep a note or register the words and English conversation you think you will need in your smart phone.

Fingerprint Collection

Your fingerprints will be taken after you have answered the immigration questions. Place your finger on the designated device when the officer indicates “Finger print” (fingerprint). They will not be used for any purpose other than immigration inspection.

Immigration inspection is completed with the taking of a portrait photograph

Photo of your face will be taken with a camera after fingerprinting. Remove your hat and sunglasses before the photo. The passport you receive from the immigration inspector is now stamped for authorizing your stay in Hawaii. Leave the screening area by saying “Thank you”.

Pick up your baggage

Take the escalator to the baggage claim area on the 1st floor after clearing immigration. Wait in front of the turnstile displaying your flight number and pick up your checked baggage.
Staff will arrange all baggage transferred from the turnstiles in one place at Daniel K. Inoue International Airport. If you cannot find your baggage after one round of the turnstiles, ask a staff member in the vicinity. If your baggage is damaged or lost, present your baggage tag to the airline staff and declare it. Explain your situation in detail to the attendant and receive the necessary documents to process your insurance application.

Declaration procedures at the customs inspection station

After all baggage have been picked up, please have your passport and APC output paper or customs declaration form ready and head to the customs inspection area. If you do not have anything to declare, proceed to the green line, and if you do, proceed to the red line. Those who are required to be searched by the security officer must also move to the red line and follow the instructions. Please note that if a security officer points out your improper declaration, a detailed check will be conducted in a separate room, and you will be subject to a hefty fine.

Duty free scope of entry into the U.S. including Hawaii

  • Liquor: approximately 1 litter
  • Cigarettes: 200 cigarettes, 10 individual heated cigarettes, 50 cigars
  • Souvenirs: total overseas market value not exceeding $100
  • Others: Cash or equivalent checks (including securities) not exceeding $10,000

※Alcohol and cigarettes (cigars) are prohibited by law for those under 21 years of age

Prohibited items from being brought into the U.S., including Hawaii

  • Animals and plants: Fresh fruits and vegetables, seeds, bulbs, fresh flowers, insects, and taxidermy of animals/wildlife etc.
  • Meat products: Non-U.S. meat and meat products such as ham and sausage, cup noodles, soups, bouillon (seasonings in general), snack foods, dried meat, etc. that contain or are processed with non-U.S. meat.

※Cheeses that do not contain meat, and processed foods that contain eggs are permitted to be brought in.

To the arrival lobby (exit)

Upon completion of the customs inspection, head to the arrival lobby (exit) and submit the APC output paper or customs declaration form to the staff. There are two international arrival exits at Daniel K. Inoue International Airport. Tourists as a part of the group tour should go to “EXIT 1” (group exit) on the left side of the front, and individual visitors should go to “EXIT 2” (individual exit) on the right side of the front of the 1st floor (arrival lobby). “EXIT 2” (individual exit) is convenient for those taking a cab, TheBus, or shuttle bus to the car rental center. If you are arriving by tour, the staff of the tourist agency will be waiting for you at “EXIT 1” (group exit) to follow the directions to the shuttle bus.
The ride-sharing station for Lyft, Uber and etc. is located on the 2nd floor (departure lobby). There are three ride-sharing stations (one in Terminal 1 and two in Terminal 2), and you should go to the second floor after you have collected your baggage and cleared customs. The Terminal 1 riding area is near lobby 2, and Terminal 2 is between lobbies 5 and 6, and also near lobby 8. Lobby numbers are posted overhead in the aisles.

Points to keep in mind when using ride-share services

Keep in mind the size and quantity of suitcases you bring when using a Lyft or Uber from the airport.
Lyft recommends the use of the “Lyft XL,” which can seat up to six passengers, even for groups of four or less if the luggage cannot be loaded into a standard four-door car. Uber also recommends the “uberXL” for similar situations which can accommodate up to six passengers in a large vehicle. If you have more than 4 people or a lot of luggage, carefully consider the size of the vehicle before requesting a ride.

Establishment of Automated Passport Control (APC) kiosks

The Conditions for use of Automated Passport Control (APC) “kiosk”

Automated Passport Control (APC) “kiosk” is available at Daniel K. Inoue international airport on Oahu since June 2015. Kiosk is a device to complete the immigration procedure on the terminal screen without immigration officer’s inspection. Check the contents below for certain conditions for the use of kiosk.

Must be those visitors with ESTA

Kiosk is only available for those travelers with ESTA. Those visitors with tourist visa, student visa, and green card are not subjected to use kiosk, therefore go through immigration officer for the inspection procedure.

Must have a travel history to the U.S. under ESTA in the past

Those who visited the U.S. under ESTA in the past are subject to use of kiosk. In case of expiration of ESTA, kiosk will be permitted to use by re-apply ESTA and hold travel authorization.

Must hold a passport not renewed or not have any changes

Even satisfying the conditions above, kiosk will not be available if you renew the passport. Those who renewed or made any changes to the passport used for past travel to the U.S. are out of subject to the eligibility for kiosk. Also, ESTA will be expired in the same time when the passport expires. If your passport expiration is within 6 months, apply for ESTA after the renewal of the passport.

Airports where kiosks (APC) are available

As of January 2022, APC kiosks have been installed at 43 airports including Honolulu airport in Hawaii.

APC kiosks are currently operational at the following airports:

  1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
  2. Aruba Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA)
  3. Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH)
  4. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)
  5. Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
  6. Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)
  7. Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW)
  8. Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
  9. Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
  10. Denver International Airport (DEN)
  11. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW)
  12. Dublin International Airport (DUB)
  13. Edmonton International Airport (YEG)
  14. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
  15. Halifax Stanfield International Airport (YHZ)
  16. Honolulu International Airport (HNL)
  17. Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
  18. Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS)
  19. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  20. Miami International Airport (MIA)
  21. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC)
  22. Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP)
  23. Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL)
  24. Nassau Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS)
  25. New York-John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
  26. Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
  27. Oakland International Airport (OAK)
  28. Orlando International Airport (MCO)
  29. Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
  30. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
  31. Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)
  32. Portland International Airport (PDX)
  33. Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)
  34. Reno International Airport (RNO)
  35. Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)
  36. San Diego International Airport (SAN)
  37. San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  38. Seattle Sea-Tac Airport (SEA)
  39. Tampa International Airport (TPA)
  40. Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
  41. Vancouver International Airport (YVR)
  42. Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)
  43. William P. Hobby International Airport (HOU)
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UPDATE : 2023/09/14