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

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Is a visa needed to travel to Hawaii?

Is a visa required for traveling to Hawaii?

Just as with the continental United States, it is not necessary to apply for a visa to travel to Hawaii for up to 90 days for purposes of sightseeing, short-term business trip, or transit.Under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), you may travel to Hawaii without applying for a visa once ESTA authorization is approved.It is required to apply for ESTA for ordinary sightseeing travel to Hawaii.
However, in some cases you might not be authorized to travel under ESTA, such as if you have been denied entry to the U.S. in the past, have had a visa application rejected, or have a criminal record. In such cases, applying for a visa is a must, and we recommend to do so well in advance after you have decided on plans to travel to Hawaii.In addition, under the Terrorist Travel Prevention Act, in principle those who have traveled to or entered Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Iran, or the Sudan since March 1, 2011 may not enter the U.S. with ESTA.

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

Note: 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 applied for and obtained authorization for ESTA (the Electronic System for Travel Authorization)
  • ② Period of stay in the United States must be no longer than 90 days
  • ③ Must carry a passport (with an IC chip) of one of the nations participating in the VWP
  • ④ Purpose for visiting U.S. must be the followings: business, short-term training, contractual negotiations, sightseeing, tourism, visiting acquaintances, participation in events or contests without receiving any compensation, transit, and/or passage
  • ⑤ Must possess a ticket to the next destination or a return ticket when entering the U.S. by sea or air Carry a copy of your travel itinerary if using e-tickets.

See here for a detailed description of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

Required items when entering 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. with ESTA. This rule also applies to travelers with currenlty valid ESTA authorizations that were applied for prior to that date. An e-passport shows an e-passport logo on its front cover.
Return air or sea ticket or ticket from Hawaii to another country
Entry documents
Those with ESTA Customs Declaration, Quarantine Declaration
It is not necessary to submit a copy of the authorization information since ESTA is managed on a computer system.
Those who have obtained visas Arrival/Departure Record (I-94)・Customs/Quarantine Declaration

Note: The Arrival/Departure Record and Customs/Quarantine Declaration will be distributed on board your flight. Fill them out in the Roman alphabet with a blue or black ball-point pen.


Simplified flow from arrival to immigration

1.Arrival in Hawaii

After your flight lands at the airport, follow instructions to the immigration screening area.

2.To the immigration screening area

Line up in the line for immigration screening of non-residents.
When the immigration officer calls for you, advance to the immigration screening station and submit your passport, Customs/Quarantine Declaration, and Arrival/Departure Record ((I-94), only for those who obtained visas).
After answering questions about subjects such as your purpose of visit and the length of your stay, your fingerprints and a facial photograph will be taken and then the screening is complete.
For security reasons, taking photographs in this immigration screening area is prohibited.

Automated Passport Control (APC) kiosks are available now at Honolulu International Airport in Hawaii.

Automated Passport Control (APC) kiosks are available for travelers who have visited the U.S. with ESTA since 2009 and are requesting to enter the U.S. again with ESTA.By an APC kiosk, you can scan your passport, record your fingerprints, and take an identification photograph easily without having interact with an immigration officer, which greatly shorten the time that immigration procedures take.On the other hand, even you have entered the U.S. with ESTA before, if your passport has been renewed since then APC kiosks will not be available. In such a case, the ordinary immigration screening procedures are required.APC kiosks are installed in 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.”

Detailed information is available on the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website.

Procedures for how to use an APC kiosk

  • ① Select your language
  • ② Follow the instructions to scan your passport
  • ③ Take an identification photograph
  • ④ Answer the question on your customs declaration, personal information, travel information, etc.
  • ⑤ Record your fingerprints

After the above procedures are complete, you will be issued an APC receipt. Submit this receipt to the immigration officer.

3.Collect your baggage

Look for the signs for your airline and flight number and then collect your baggage from the luggage carrousel.
Since baggage is transported very quickly, in many cases it will be arranged on the floor instead.


Submit your Customs Declaration/Quarantine Declaration and then head for the exit.
However, in some cases randomly selected baggage may be X-rayed.

More details: The latest information on immigration procedures in Hawaii (2019)

Immigration screening and other procedures necessary to enter the U.S. will begin once you have arrived at Hawaii. Travelers on their first trips overseas might feel a little nervous during the immigration screening. The flow of immigration screening in Hawaii is explained in greater detail below, to help relieve this tension and unease as much as possible.

Immigration screening takes place soon after you arrive at the airport

Immigration screening will take place soon after you have landed at Honolulu International Airport. After disembarking from the aircraft, follow the arrows in the airport, then the first area you will see is the immigration screening area. Here there are separate lines for U.S. citizens and permanent residents and visitors from overseas. Get in a line following the sign that says “Foreign Passport” or “Non-Resident.” The lines marked “American Citizen” are for U.S. citizens. Since airport security personnel will guide travelers to the correct lines, you should be able to line up relatively smoothly.

Line up and wait until you are called

When the immigration officer calls “Next!” that means it is time for the next in line to approach the booth. Be careful not to approach the immigration officer before you are called. If you get too close, you will be warned to back up. You also will be warned if you step into the screening area while lined up. While waiting for immigration screening, keep your passport and the customs declaration you filled out during the flight ready in your hands. Although in the past travelers also had to fill out the Arrival/Departure Record, Form I-94W, today those who have obtained travel authorization in advance with ESTA are not required to fill it out. Since travelers visiting Hawaii without a visa are required to obtain ESTA authorization in advance, prepare to apply for ESTA soon after making your travel plans.

Immigration screening questions

After you are called to the booth, the immigration officer will ask you a number of questions, but they are nothing difficult and are rather simple. Typical questions are described below. It would be convenient for you and family or group members traveling with you to familiarize yourselves with these questions in advance.

①What is the purpose of your trip? In most cases, the appropriate answer is “Sightseeing.”
②How long are you staying? Answer by giving the number of days you will stay, such as “five days” or “one week.” In some cases, you might be asked “When are you going back?” instead of “How long are you staying?” In such a case, give the date of your return flight. If you find it difficult to give the date immediately, you may simply show your return ticket or itinerary.
③Where are you going to be staying? Give the name of the hotel or condominium where you will be staying. If you will stay with friends or family and find it difficult to answer the question, show the immigration officer the address of where you will be staying written on a piece of paper. It might be smoother just to show the customs declaration form to the officer, since you have already filled out the address of your stay there.

Record your fingerprints

After the immigration screening questions are complete, your fingerprints will be recorded. When the immigration officer asks to record your fingerprints, place your fingers on the device as instructed. Recorded fingerprints will not be used for any purposes other than immigration screening. As of 2018, rules call for recording the fingerprints of all 10 fingers, but those who already have entered the U.S. using ESTA may be exempted from recording their fingerprints again.

Take an identification photograph to complete the process

Lastly, the immigration screening process will be complete after you have taken an identification photograph. The device used to record your fingerprints also is equipped with a camera to take a photograph, so look directly at the lens to take the photo. Remove any headwear or sunglasses before taking the photo. When the immigration officer hands your passport back to you, the screening is complete. Tell the officer “Thank you” and exit the immigration screening area.


Establishment of Automated Passport Control (APC) kiosks

Since June 2015, Honolulu International Airport has adopted Automated Passport Control (APC) kiosks. These innovative devices make it possible to complete immigration screening quickly without having to go to the immigration officer’s counter. The conditions required for use of the kiosks are outlined below.

Must enter the U.S. with ESTA

The most important requirement is that you are entering the U.S. using ESTA. Note that travelers entering the U.S. with green cards, tourist visas, student visas, or other visas may not complete immigration procedures through the kiosks.

You must have entered the U.S. since 2009

ESTA became mandatory in 2009, and only those who have entered the U.S. since then with ESTA may be eligible for using the kiosks. Once you have used ESTA to enter the U.S., you satisfy this condition for use of the kiosks from the next time.

Holding a passport not renewed since the last time you entered the U.S.

Even if you satisfy the two conditions above, if you have renewed your passport since the last time you entered the U.S. the kiosks will not be available. Since this requirement is not very well known, many travelers can be seen in the airport lining up at the immigration screening counter after finding out that they are unable to use the kiosks. Check in advance to see whether or not you have renewed your passport since the last time you entered the U.S.

Airports where kiosks are available for use

As of August 2018, APC kiosks have been adopted at the 43 airports shown below.

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.Montréal – 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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