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All About the Visa Requirements for Americans

Visa requirements for American citizens refer to the conditions that you must fulfil to be granted entry to another country. Typically, these requirements take the form of, among other things, filling in an application form, supplying supporting documentation such as a valid passport, and paying a fee.

Once the US citizen who wishes to visit another nation complies with these visa requirements, you will be granted your entry pass and can begin your journey.

The visa requirements for Americans depend both on the purpose of your trip and where you’re going. For example, if you’re visiting another country for tourism, then the entry conditions to comply with will be different than if you’re travelling there to study.

Similarly, for some countries you could be visa-exempt, while others may require you to visit an embassy in person to apply for an entry pass. Meanwhile, other countries might ask for either an eVisa (Electronic Visa) or a Visa on Arrival (VoA).

When your passport allows you to enter lots of countries without prior authorisation, this means that you have a strong passport. At present, according to the Henley Passport Index, the US passport is tied for the 7th-strongest in the world and has access to 185 nations without an embassy visa.

This makes it easy for you to enter a large variety of destinations worldwide. In this case, how long you’re visa-exempt for varies from country to country, although normally, you can stay for around 30 to 90 days.

On this page, we discuss in detail the different sorts of visa requirements for US citizens, so you can straightforwardly plan your next international travels!

How Many Countries Can You Visit With a US Passport?

As we’ve mentioned, US citizens don’t need to apply for an embassy visa to enter 185 nations. Importantly though, to enter these countries, you may either be visa-exempt or require an eVisa or a VoA. Here’s an explanation of these terms:

  • Visa-exempt: In this case, there are no visa requirements for American citizens, and you usually only need a valid passport.
  • eVisa: This is a digital entry permit that you apply for and receive completely online. You fill in our application form, upload your supporting documents, and receive your eVisa by email.
  • VoA: You apply for this entry pass when you get at the border, typically after getting off your plane. At the arrival airport, you may have to wait in long queues and fill in paper forms by hand.

Top Destinations to Visit With a US Passport

You can check some popular destinations worldwide where US citizens can travel below. Find out the specific requirements for each destination by clicking on the country’s name:

Which Countries Are ‘No Visa Required’ for US Citizens?

You can see the full list of visa-free countries for US passport holders below:

When we refer to visa-free travel countries for US citizens, we mean that you can enter without applying beforehand for any sort of entry permit, be that an eVisa, VoA, or a visa from an embassy.

Instead, you normally only require a valid passport to gain entry, although it’s worth checking the regulations for the destination you’re visiting. You can do this by clicking on the names of the countries above. For example, many nations require your passport to have at least 6 months of validity, while others may ask to see your return or onward travel bookings as proof that you plan to leave.

Notably, even among visa-free countries for American passport holders, you’ll normally only be allowed to stay for a limited length of time. This also varies from country to country, so be sure to investigate this as you plan your trip. Typically, you can remain visa-free for 30 to 90 days.

In addition, whether you’re allowed visa-free entry will depend on the purpose of your trip. Usually, US passport holders are visa-free for tourism, business visits, and transit. If you’re visiting for another reason, such as to study or immigrate, then you’ll require authorisation to do so.

As you can see in the list above, the visa-free countries for US citizens cover a large variety of destinations worldwide. These range from exciting destinations in Europe, such as the UK, France or Italy, to further-flung destinations like Japan, Hong Kong and South Africa.

So wherever you’re thinking of travelling next, you can feel confident that the USA’s strong passport enables you to visit many destinations freely, without extra bureaucracy!

Which Countries Require a Visa on Arrival for US Citizens?

You can find below the full list of countries that require US citizens to apply for a visa upon arrival:

Bangladesh Burkina Faso Comoros
The Gambia Guinea-Bissau Iraq
Lebanon Maldives Mauritania
Mozambique Paraguay Samoa
Solomon Islands Somalia Timor-Leste
Togo Tonga Tuvalu
United Arab Emirates Zimbabwe

There are specific visa requirements for US passport holders to obtain a Visa on Arrival (VoA). In this case, you apply when you arrive at your destination, typically after you get off your plane. That said, depending on your destination, you may also require a VoA if you arrive by other means, such as by sea or by land, for example in a car.

At the border, you may first have to stand in a line for an application form to fill in. You fill this in by hand with a pen, and then, you might have to queue again to hand your application to the border agents. They will then examine your application to ensure it’s correct.

Also, usually, there’ll be a fee for the VoA, which it’s common to have to pay in cash in the local currency. As such, if you’re applying for this type of entry pass, be sure to exchange currencies in advance, as credit or debit cards may not be accepted.

As well as your application form, you may also have to show supporting documents like a valid passport, or proof of your accommodation bookings. With a VoA, the visa requirements for US citizens vary from destination to destination, so check these in advance.

Once the border agents are satisfied with your application, you’re issued a VoA and you’re free to enter the country! These travel permits are normally valid for a Single Entry and last 30 to 90 days, depending on where you’re going.

Many countries that have VoAs also offer eVisas. eVisas are more convenient to obtain since you apply for and obtain them online before you start your trip, from the comfort of your home or office. Also, eVisas give you the assurance that your entry permit is in order before you set off.

Which Countries Require an Embassy Visa for US Citizens?

As follows is the list of countries where visas are required for US citizens from an embassy or consulate:

Afghanistan Aland Islands Algeria
American Samoa Anguilla Antarctica
Aruba Bhutan Bolivia
Bonaire British Indian Ocean Territory British Virgin Islands
Burundi Cameroon Cayman Islands
Chad China Christmas Island
Cocos Islands Congo Cook Islands
Curacao Democratic Republic of the Congo Eritrea
Falkland Islands Faroe Islands French Guiana
French Polynesia Ghana Gibraltar
Greenland Guadeloupe Guam
Guernsey Isle of Man Jersey
Liberia Libya Mali
Martinique Mayotte Montserrat
Nauru New Caledonia Niger
Niue Norfolk Island Northern Mariana Islands
Pitcairn Islands Reunion Russian Federation
Saint Barthelemy Saint Helena Saint Martin
Saint Pierre and Miquelon Sint Maarten South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
Sudan Svalbard and Jan Mayen Tokelau
Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Venezuela
Wallis and Futuna Yemen

The embassy visa requirements for American citizens can be time-consuming. You apply for this kind of visa by visiting the nearest diplomatic mission of the country you’re planning to go to. Typically, you’ll have to make an appointment in advance, which, depending on where you’re going, can be done either by telephone, in person or online. You’ll have to bring a filled-in application form, plus the required supporting documents.

On the bright side, many embassies offer their application forms online, so you can print one and fill it out in advance, thereby saving you an additional trip. Also, the supporting documents you’ll need, such as a valid passport, may be listed online too, as well as the visa fee, so you can prepare all these beforehand.

At the in-person embassy appointment, you’ll hand over your application form, other documents, and your passport. The consular staff will then process your application, which may take up to a few weeks, depending on your destination. As such, it’s best to apply well in advance.

When your application is approved, you return to the embassy to retrieve your passport. The visa is typically fixed to one of your passport’s pages. Your embassy visa may be valid for either a Single or Multiple Entries, and from 30 to 90 days, depending on the options available for the country you’re visiting.

Countries Where a Visa Is Not Permitted

There are some countries where US citizens are currently restricted from obtaining any sort of entry visa. These are as follows:

  • Cuba
  • North Korea
  • Syria


Officially, US passport holders must obtain special validation from the Federal Government to travel to Cuba. In practice, though, many Americans go to Cuba under the visit category “Support for the Cuban People”, which is one of 11 categories that permit travel here.

North Korea

The US Federal Government introduced a travel ban prohibiting US citizens from going to North Korea on September 1st, 2007, to protect Americans from the increasing risk of being detained here long-term.


Syria’s embassy in Washington DC suspended all consular services on March 18th, 2014, including for visa applications, and this remains the case.

Changes to Visa Policy for US Citizens in 2022

A number of countries and territories look set to introduce new visa requirements for US citizens sometime in 2022. Keep these changes in mind if you plan to travel to any of these destinations!

  • Europe: The European Union will introduce its ETIAS visa waiver to enter the Schengen Zone in late 2022 or early 2023. You’ll apply for this online, and it will be electronically linked to your passport.
  • Japan: The Land of the Rising Sun looks set to introduce an eVisa in 2022. This will apply to many nationalities which are currently visa-exempt, such as US citizens.
  • South Africa: Africa’s most-industrialised country will also introduce an eVisa in 2022, to better monitor who’s entering and exiting its territory.
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