Do I need a passport to go to/from San Juan, Puerto Rico?
You must carry your passport to board from San Juan; however, US citizens do not need to go through US customs at the airport.
ESTA for Puerto Rico
What is ESTA?
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization to the United States (ESTA) is a system created by the Government of the United States (implemented on January 12, 2009) to determine the eligibility of citizens who enter the United States through the ESTA Visa Waiver Program.
This program allows citizens of 40 countries to enter the United States without the need to obtain a conventional visa.
On the contrary, only eligible citizens will be asked for an ESTA travel authorization to enter the country for stays of less than 90 days.
The ESTA for the United States is valid for 90 days for two years.
The ESTA application for the USA is 100% online, and applicants must have a valid passport and fill out the form honestly.
Once approved, your ESTA visa waiver will save the applicant’s personal data and all associated passport details.
The purpose of the trip must be for tourism, business, or transit to another country.
Once your ESTA to the USA is approved, it will be sent to you by email.
Who needs an ESTA to travel to the US?
Through the Visa Waiver Program, the United States Government authorizes and allows the following 40 countries to enter the United States with only an approved ESTA authorization.
The ESTA for the USA serves to pre-examine and control passengers entering the United States.
Thus authorizing an entry into the country for a maximum period of 90 consecutive days, during two years in which the traveler may enter the United States as many times as they want (without exceeding the 90 days allowed per entry into the USA per trip).
Once that time (2 years) has passed, the traveler must request and renew the ESTA if they want to re-enter the United States.
List of eligible countries:
Germany, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chili, South Korea, Croatia, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, malt, Monaco, Norway, New Zealand, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, San Marino, Singapore, Sweden, Swiss, Taiwan
ESTA requirements for the USA
In addition to all of the above, you should take into account the following aspects:
To get your ESTA visa waiver, you must have a valid passport.
You should not travel to the United States with a serious criminal record or contagious diseases that could risk citizens’ public health.
Your ESTA to the USA will expire two years after it is issued or when your passport date expires, whichever happens first.
Each ESTA must be presented individually by each traveler who wants to enter the United States.
So keep in mind the following specific applications for the ESTA:
Dual nationality for ESTA
ESTA for children or minors
ESTA for Families
It is also important to note that you will need an ESTA if you make a stopover on a cruise through an island in the United States, such as the Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico.
The same happens if you pass through the United States and stop in another country. In this case, too, you will need to apply for an ESTA for transit purposes.
How long does it take to obtain the ESTA?
The processing time for an ESTA to the USA is approximately 24-48 hours, so candidates must make their ESTA application online in advance.
It is important to note that ESTA is not a visa waiver authorized for all countries.
Therefore, travelers should find out if their country is eligible for the ESTA or if, on the contrary, they should apply for a conventional visa.
In any case, no passenger will need to apply for an ESTA and a conventional visa simultaneously.
An approved ESTA travel authorization does not guarantee entry to the United States.
Requirements to travel to Puerto Rico with the ESTA
Puerto Rico has the status of a Free State but, in turn, is associated with the United States.
An aspect that creates doubt for tourists about the visa requirements to travel to Puerto Rico: Do I need a visa for Puerto Rico? Should I apply for an ESTA for Puerto Rico? What should I do?
Certainly, this particular status and the fact that it participates as an “independent” country in official competitions such as the Olympic Games does not help to dispel the doubts of an independent country or a country dependent on the United States.
Be that as it may, it has its own status, but it is dependent and is part of the United States, which will require the same requirements and entry visas as any state in the United States.
How to apply for an ESTA visa waiver for Puerto Rico
You are probably wondering if you need a visa for Puerto Rico. The first thing you should do is make sure that you are part of one of the eligible countries to apply for the ESTA to Puerto Rico.
The first requirement is to have the nationality of one of the 40 countries that are part of the visa waiver program, including Spain, Andorra, Chile, and most countries of the European Union, Australia, or South Korea.
In addition, if you are eligible for ESTA, you will need a valid biometric passport. Next, you must fill out the ESTA form for Puerto Rico online.
If you are not a national of one of the visa-exempt countries, you will need to apply for a US tourist visa, a longer process than the ESTA application.
To apply for the ESTA to travel to Puerto Rico, simply complete the form with your personal and passport information and answer the security questions.
You can fill out the electronic form from the comfort of your home or office since you only need an Internet connection.
If you need a consular visa, you will have to make an appointment at the nearest embassy or consulate and present a series of documents according to the reason for your trip.
Once the application has been completed and your ESTA has been paid, you will receive a confirmation to the email address you provided in the form.
The system processes applications in a matter of minutes, and you will receive your ESTA to enter the United States immediately.
However, filling out the ESTA form at least 72 hours before the flight is always recommended if a request requires additional time to verify the traveler’s details.
Those who travel with relatives can process the ESTA travel authorization for families. This will save them time and make the application process easier.
Do you need a visa to travel from Spain to Puerto Rico?
If you are a Spanish citizen, have a valid passport, and wish to travel to Puerto Rico for tourism or business reasons, then you do not need a visa to travel from Spain to Puerto Rico. The ESTA will help you enter and leave Puerto Rico for short stays.
However, if you are not a Spanish national and do not belong to a member country of the visa waiver program, even if you live in Spain, you will most likely need a visa to travel from Spain to Puerto Rico.
Non-ESTA eligible foreigners wishing to go to the Caribbean for tourism, business, or medical treatment must apply for a B1 or B2 visa.
On the other hand, to stay in Puerto Rico to work, study, or live, the ESTA is not valid. So, those Spaniards who wish to remain in Puerto Rican territory must process the corresponding visa at the embassy or consulate.
Requirements to travel to Puerto Rico from Spain
As we have mentioned, the laws of Puerto Rico are governed by the same immigration laws as the other states of the United States.
If you belong to a country in the visa waiver program, such as Spain or Chile, you can travel without a visa to Puerto Rico for 90 days for two consecutive years with the ESTA travel authorization.
If you do not belong to said program, you will need to apply for a regular tourist visa and go to an interview with the nearest consulate or embassy for acceptance.
Requirements to enter Puerto Rico from Spain
The steps to take to travel from Spain to Puerto Rico will be the following:
Fill out the ESTA form for Puerto Rico.
First, answer questions honestly and wait for ESTA approval.
Complete the Traveler Declaration or Puerto Rico Travel Declaration Form
What is the Traveler Declaration form for Puerto Rico?
Currently, all people who wish to travel to Puerto Rico must fill out the Puerto Rico Travel Declaration Form or THC.
This traveler’s declaration is mandatory for entering the country introduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The declaration collects data on the traveler’s health status at the time of entry into the country, airline information, and seat number.
It allows the authorities to determine who may or may not travel to the country during the pandemic and to prove that the traveler:
If a PCR or antigen test were done 72 hours before traveling to Puerto Rico, you would undergo a PCR or antigen test in Puerto Rico within 48 hours of arrival.
ESTA form to enter Puerto Rico
If you want to visit Puerto Rico and any American territory, you must complete an ESTA form. This process is done entirely online.
Being an electronic procedure, completing it will not take more than 10 minutes.
Said format comprises several questions related to visitors’ data and their trip to Puerto Rico. It also includes questions of a general nature.
If you are not eligible for an ESTA in Puerto Rico, you must conventionally process a visa for Puerto Rico at the nearest embassy or consulate. We recommend contacting your consular representation for more information and access procedures in this case.
What information must I fill in to obtain the ESTA visa exemption for traveling to Puerto Rico?
To obtain the electronic travel authorization, you will have to fill out the ESTA Form for Puerto Rico with the following information:
Applicant data: name, date, sex, and place of birth.
Contact information: address, telephone, and email.
Family data: name and surname of the parents or legal guardians.
Contact information in case of emergency: name of the owner, email, and telephone.
Employment: company name, address, and phone.
Generic questions: illnesses, previously denied visas, terrorist activities, social networks, etc.
Travel information: accommodation address once you get there.