The United States of America is the world’s largest economy so if your business operates globally it’s likely to have an office there. America is the land of opportunity and a great place to start taking your business offshore. In this article, we cover some of the must-do tips to prepare for your business trip to the US as a visitor. The information mentioned below is generic and not considered absolutely accurate for all US entries, please do your own research before you travel.
Gone are the days of travel simplicity. To get into the US you need accurate travel documents. If you’re from Canada, Mexico or Bermuda, there is the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative which covers the US entry requirements for travelers with passports from those nations.
For all other non-US passport holders, an international passport is required for all visitor stays in the US. Your passport needs to be valid before you travel and remain so once you return home for a minimum of six months.
America has a visa waiver program with 38 countries so if you have a passport from one of these countries you’re in luck, as no visa will be required for your visit to the US.
The visa waiver program is called the ESTA (electronic system for travel authorization) and it’s an automated system that assesses and decides eligibility for US entry. This application needs to be completed at least 72 hours before your travel, and there is a small fee. Should you decide to travel with it, you’re not going to get passed check-in. If you’re a citizen or passport holder of Canada, Mexico or Bermuda you don’t need ESTA clearance for visiting the US.
If you’re from a country that’s on the ESTA list like China, Turkey or Russia then you will need a visa for assessment by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) upon entry. A visa does not guarantee entry; it merely confirms your eligibility to seek admission. Mostly you have the documents required to travel and be assessed at customs on your arrival.
Making The Most Of Your US Stay
To have an amazing business trip to the US, and make the most of your free time prepare well in advance of your arrival. Depending on your location, there will be lots of sights to see and activities to do especially if it’s your first trip to the area. Also consider travelling to the US near the weekend so you can have two days of leisure that may include short overnight stays to nearby towns or cities. For example if you’re traveling to New York, you can take in Boston travelling by train, with the three-hour journey between the two cities it’s a great way to take in another city during your short visit.
Utilise your time efficiently from the moment you rise to the time you retire for the day. Top of your list is the purpose of your visit, i.e. it’s primarily a business trip. Therefore what are your goals for a visit? Plan for success and recognise each milestone reached, so you can gauge the return on the investment.
With technology enabling business activity to be done online and this includes business meetings via video chat apps like Skype, never before has there been the need for more justification for any business trip that requires investment in travel and accommodation. Plus there is added pressure now on businesses to cut down business travel to save the planet.
Businesses need to show their commitment to reducing their carbon footprint, which discerning customers require as a reason to do business with a company.
Spend a dollar to earn three dollars is a rough guide to assessing ROI on business trips.