Germany joined the United States of America’s Visa Waiver Program (VWP) in October 1989, only three years after it passed legislation in Congress. The program helped to facilitate tourism and short-term business between Americans and German citizens. The program was further improved for Germans when the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) was created in 2009. The electronic system made it possible for all citizens of Germany to apply for a travel authorization online. The authorization is better known only as ESTA and grants Germans admittance to the U.S. for up to 90 days for the purpose of business, tourism (including medical purposes), and non-credit study programs.
Germans visiting the U.S. for other reasons than those stated above might still need to apply for a B-2 tourist visa. If you are in that position, then make sure to prepare it early in advance of your trip as it requires a visit to the nearest U.S. Embassy in Germany. Applications can be made at the U.S. Embassy Berlin, U.S. Consulate General Frankfurt, or U.S. Consulate General Munich.
The ESTA is not a visa and is simpler to obtain. Just go online with any device and apply in 15 minutes or less. An ESTA is a travel document/authorization that is sent via email as you complete the application. The document gives you admittance to the U.S. for up to 90 days for the reasons mentioned earlier.
U.S. Immigration statistics for German visitors (2017):
- The total amount of visitors from Germany: 2 409 465
- Approved ESTA applications: 2 160 492
- Students and exchange visitors: 56 691
- Temporary workers and family-related applications: 97 028
- Diplomats and other official representatives: 20 228
- Other types of visitor categories: 6 648
Information about traveling to the U.S. from Germany
Plenty of options to choose from are available for traveling from Germany to the U.S. For direct nonstop flights, check out Lufthansa and its partner United. A combination of these carriers can easily take you to from Munich and Frankfurt to New York, Chicago, and Miami.
Flying from Munich
Munich Airport (MUC) is the second busiest airport in Germany after Frankfurt. MUC is located 32 km (20 miles) northeast of Munich and has several routes going to the U.S. and finding a direct flight should be easy. It can take up to 45 minutes to reach the airport from Munich. Here is some more info that can help you:
- You can take the S-Bahn to the Airport – ticket price
- The S1 and S8 S-Bahn trains depart from the city center every 20 minutes and reach the airport in about 45 minutes
- The Lufthansa Express Bus also leaves every 15 minutes for the Munich main railway station (Hauptbahnhof) via Munich-Schwabing (Nordfriedhof) – the trip takes approx. 35 minutes – more info
- You can put the following into your GPS to the terminal: Street: Nordallee, City: Freising
- If using the Points of Interest option in your GPS, then type Munich Airport
- You may park at the P5, P7 and P8 parking facilities for long-term parking (eight days or longer) - they are located between Terminal 1 and Terminal 2
- You can also park at the P41, P80 and P81 vacationer parking areas offer special rates (they are served by shuttle buses that leave for the terminals every 20 minutes)
- More info about parking here
Flying from Frankfurt
Frankfurt am Main Airport (FRA) is the busiest airport in Germany and lies 12 km (7.5 miles) southwest of central Frankfurt. It is a major hub in the EU with around 64.5 million passengers passing through every year. Here is some quick info on how to get there:
- Motorways A 3, A 67, and A 5 lead straight to Frankfurt Airport. Follow the signs for the airport (an airport icon) and then for Terminal 1 or 2 as required – more info here
- GPS Coordinates: For Terminal 1: Hugo Eckener Ring, 60549 Frankfurt - For Terminal 2: Kapitän-Lehmann-Strasse, 60549 Frankfurt
- Bus connections are plentiful – get more info here
- More info about long-distance buses here
- If you have any disability needs, you can find helpful information here
When to apply for ESTA?
In December 2018, it became obligatory for everyone to apply for an ESTA at least 72 hours before embarking in a U.S.-bound aircraft. To be on the safe side, travelers are recommended to apply in good time to make sure that their travel authorization (ESTA) is approved. Those that get denied have to apply for a B-2 visa at the nearest U.S. Embassy. If you have plans to visit the United States in the near future, then apply today. Read more about the ESTA application here.
Germans with an approved ESTA can check its status or make updates. Visit this page for more information: verify/update ESTA.
German citizens can apply for ESTA online
The ESTA is valid for 2 years for visitors from Germany
Germans can stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days with an approved ESTA
Germany’s overstay rate is only: 0.46%