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Visa for Seattle, Washington USA

Updated: Aug 24, 2023  | Tags: ESTA, USA Visa

Information on visiting Seattle and needing a visa for Seattle.


Seattle, the largest city in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States, is a bustling urban landscape that offers an exciting blend of modern innovation and rich history. Whether you’re looking to explore the iconic Space Needle, relish in the city's famous coffee culture, or discover its natural beauty, Seattle has something for everyone. But before you embark on your Seattle adventure, it’s crucial to figure out the entry requirements. Depending on your country of residence, you may need to apply for either an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) or a U.S. visa.

Many people planning a trip to Seattle for the first time are confused about what documentation they'll need apart from their passport. They're unsure whether they need a visa or not, and they have also probably heard about something called ESTA but don't know the difference between ESTA and visa requirements, or even if there is a difference. ESTA, despite being a travel authorization, is not a Visa. This article aims to guide you through the process for both options, while also highlighting some must-see tourist attractions in Seattle.

ESTA: For Visa Waiver Program Countries

Who is Eligible?

ESTA is available to residents of 41 countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). These countries are as follows: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Malta, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom. This program allows tourists and business travelers to stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days without requiring a visa.

How to Apply for ESTA

  1. Check Eligibility: Make sure you are a resident of one of the VWP countries.
  2. Prepare Documents: All you need is a valid passport and details on the place you will be staying at while in the U.S. You may also need to have your employment information on hand if you are employed.
  3. Online Application: Visit the ESTA website and fill out the application form by answering all the required questions. The process is straightforward and usually takes around 20 minutes.
  4. Pay Fees: Pay the necessary government fees using your credit or debit card as well as PayPal.
  5. Wait for Approval: You’ll typically receive an answer within 72 hours. Make sure to apply at least 72 hours before your departure to the U.S.

U.S. Visas: For non-ESTA eligible travelers

Who Needs a Visa?

Travelers from countries not eligible for the VWP must apply for a visa to visit the United States.

How to Apply for a U.S. Visa

  • Select a U.S. Visa Type: Most tourists will need a B-2 Tourist Visa.
  • Complete DS-160: Fill out the DS-160 form online.
  • Pay Fees: The application fee is $185.
  • Schedule Interview: Set up an appointment at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
  • Attend Interview: Bring all required documents to your interview. You will also be required to answer a number of questions during your interview.
  • Wait for Approval: The time it takes for visa approval can vary significantly, so apply well in advance of your travel dates.

The key differences between ESTA and a U.S. Visa

An important difference between ESTA and visa applications is that while visas are applied for in person at a U.S. embassy or consulate, ESTAs are obtained online via the Department of Homeland Security's website. Just supply the requested information, complete payment and wait for the system to check that you're eligible to travel without a visa. You'll receive notification sometime after. An ESTA is valid for two years, so for any return trips to the United States within that period, you won't need to re-apply for a new ESTA. However, if the purpose of your return visit doesn't satisfy the conditions of the Visa Waiver Program, you'll need to apply for a visa for visiting Seattle.

Tourist Attractions in Seattle

Once your travel documents are in order, you can start planning your Seattle itinerary. Here are some must-see tourist attractions:

Space Needle

One of the most iconic landmarks in the U.S., the Space Needle offers panoramic views of the city and its surrounding areas. Don’t forget to experience the rotating glass floor!

Pike Place Market

Known for its vibrant atmosphere, Pike Place Market is a food lover's paradise. From fresh produce to a variety of international cuisines, there's plenty to explore.

The Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)

This museum is a haven for fans of music, science fiction, and pop culture. Exhibitions range from the history of rock 'n' roll to contemporary pop culture phenomena.

Seattle Art Museum

This institution houses a diverse collection of art that spans multiple eras and geographical regions. It's a must-visit for art aficionados.

Mount Rainier National Park

Just a couple of hours from Seattle, Mount Rainier National Park offers stunning natural landscapes. It's perfect for hiking, camping, and winter sports.

Ferry to Bainbridge Island

The ferry offers magnificent views of Seattle's skyline. Once on Bainbridge Island, you can enjoy a quieter atmosphere with boutique shops and scenic walks.


Visiting Seattle requires some advance planning, especially when it comes to entry requirements. Residents of Visa Waiver Program countries can apply for an ESTA, which is a relatively simple process, while those from other countries will need to go through the more time-consuming U.S. visa process. Regardless of your entry requirements, Seattle’s diverse range of attractions, from its bustling markets to its natural beauty, make it a must-visit destination on any U.S. trip.

Before you travel, always check the most up-to-date information from official sources as policies and requirements may change.