Portugal joined the United States of America’s Visa Waiver Program on August 9, 1999. Since then, Portuguese citizens have been able to travel to the United States without a visa under certain conditions. The U.S. further developed its Visa Waiver Program and launched its online platform; the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) in 2009. With ESTA, Portuguese citizens, as well as all citizens of the Visa Waiver countries, can apply for a 90 day stay in the U.S. without visit a U.S. Embassy.
The ESTA can only be used for the purpose of business, tourism (including medical purposes) and for attending non-credit study programs. The trip to the United States can be up to 90 days, and the ESTA is valid for two years which means it can be used multiple times during the two year period.
If you are traveling to the U.S. for a longer duration or different purposes, then a tourist visa would be required.
- The total amount of visitors from Portugal: 204 627
- Approved ESTA applications: 185 010
- Students and exchange visitors: 4 156
- Temporary workers and family-related applications: 6 766
- Diplomats and other official representatives: 1 750
- Other types of visitor categories: 1 865
Portugal sits at the southern edge of Europe on the Iberian Peninsula and has 4 international airports to choose from if you have plans to travel to the U.S. - Lisbon, Porto, Faro, and Beja.
It is important to note that Lisbon and Porto offer the best airline and direct route options. Faro and Beja do not offer direct flights to the U.S. However you could fly from both airports to other mainland Europe airports and fly to the U.S. from that point.
Portela Airport or Lisbon Airport is the main airport and sits just a short distance outside the capital, and it is well serviced by buses. You can access the airport from the city center by shuttle bus or metro which is a cheap option - more info here. Taxi services are also available. It normally takes around 20 minutes to reach the airport from Lisbon city center, which enable travelers to go to and from this airport quickly. This means that you have plenty of time to treat yourself to a delicious “pastel de nata” and arrive at the airport in no time.
Francisco Sa Carneiro Airport or Porto Airport is just 11 km north west of Porto city center. A shuttle service is available, and prices start from just €5. Public transport like the metro can again be a cheaper option for travelers - more info here.
Faro and Beja Airports offer flights to London, Paris, and Amsterdam which have a vast range of flights and route onwards to the U.S.
There are direct flights from Portugal to the U.S. daily, including Miami, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington and more. Some flights are seasonal (summer only), so it is good to factor this into your travel plans.
From Lisbon Airport, American Airlines flies to Philadelphia, Azores Airlines flies to Boston, Delta Airlines fly Lisbon Airport to New York’s JFK and Boston, while TAP Air Portugal flies to Boston, Chicago, Miami, New York, San Francisco, and Washington. Finally, United Airlines operates a route to Newark and Washington.
Porto Airport services are more limited, however, TAP Air Portugal flies to Newark, as does United Airlines.
In December 2018, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security made it mandatory to apply for an ESTA at least 72 hours before traveling to the United States of America. This means the sooner you apply, the better. Getting denied means a tourist visa must be applied for, which means a visit to the nearest U.S. Embassy will be required. It can be time-consuming and stressful. If you already know that you are traveling to the U.S. soon, then apply today.
Portuguese citizens can apply for ESTA online
The ESTA is valid for two years for visitors from Portugal
Portuguese can stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days with an approved ESTA
Portugal’s overstay rate is only: 1.80%