By Lucy Stretch

Travelling to the USA is one of the most exciting possibilities, especially growing up imagining the places we have seen in films and on TV. Yet it is important to consider the following things before you go abroad to avoid any unnecessary problems with local laws and customs.


  1. Before you go, and in as much advance as possible, make sure you have the correct documentation to enter the US. You’ll need prior authorisation to enter the United States using a British passport, either through a visa, a Permanent Resident Card, or the Visa Waiver Programme. It’s your responsibility to know and understand the entry rules before you travel. For further detail check out the FCO’s entry advice page.


  1. Research the state/s you are going to visit as laws and local customs can vary greatly. For example, the laws surrounding the possession and consumption of marijuana is an example of where there can be great variations from state to state. In some states marijuana is legal for recreational use, yet in others it can lead to a large fine and even time in prison. Check out this article for more details on the complex and varying marijuana laws in the US.


  1. Carry your passport with you for identification. The drinking age in the US is 21 and they are very strict checking IDs. Even if you are out for dinner or just getting a beer from a stand in a park you should make sure you have it with you.


  1. Whilst tipping is not a legal obligation in the USA, it certainly is a customary practice and is in most restaurants. In general, 15-20% of the pre-tax bill is a good amount to tip.


  1. Get the correct travel Insurance for your trip, use the FCO Travel Aware page to check you have the appropriate cover. There are so many amazing things to do across the US, from exploring some of the largest cities in the world to experiencing the natural beauty spots across the country. There is something for everyone so make sure you are fully prepared to have the best trip possible!