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Which countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)?

Visa waiver

Years ago, the US government set up the ESTA visa waiver granting citizens of Visa Waiver Program countries the opportunity to enter the US for a short trip without applying for a traditional visitor visa. After that, it’s been hectic for citizens trying to figure out whether they are eligible for ESTA based on their citizenship.

How does a country become part of the Waiver Program?

The US government and nations interested in participating in the Visa Waiver Program collaborate to create “road maps” outlining the steps required to become eligible. When a country meets the conditions of the road map, it gets nominated for Visa Waiver Program membership. Typically, a country chosen for the Visa Waiver Program will be considered developed, with a high Human Development Index ranking and a high-income economy. The country’s immigration and security policies must also be approved by the US Department of Homeland Security. There is no typical schedule for Waiver Program admission approval or rejection after a country has been nominated.

List of Visa Waiver Countries

  • Andorra (1991)
  • Australia (1996)
  • Austria (1991)
  • Belgium (1991)
  • Brunei (1993)
  • Chile (2014)
  • Croatia (2021)
  • Czech Republic (2008)
  • Denmark (1991)
  • Estonia (2008)
  • Finland (1991)
  • France (1989)
  • Germany (1989)
  • Greece (2010)
  • Hungary (2008)
  • Iceland (1991)
  • Ireland (1995)
  • Italy (1989)
  • Japan (1988)
  • Korea, Republic of (2008)
  • Latvia (2008)
  • Liechtenstein (1991)
  • Lithuania (2008)
  • Luxembourg (1991)
  • Malta (2008)
  • Monaco (1991)
  • Netherlands (1989)
  • New Zealand (1991)
  • Norway (1991)
  • Poland (2019)
  • Portugal (1999)
  • San Marino (1991)
  • Singapore (1999)
  • Slovakia (2008)
  • Slovenia (1997)
  • Spain (1991)
  • Sweden (1989)
  • Switzerland (1989)
  • Taiwan (2012)
  • United Kingdom** (1988)


Countries that desire to join (or rejoin) the Visa Waiver Program are referred to as “roadmap countries.” In 2005, the US Department of State began considering Visa Waiver Program acceptance with key countries. There were 19 initial roadmap countries; ten of them have joined the Waiver Program, but the following countries retain roadmap status: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania, Israel, Turkey, Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay.

A Visa Waiver Program nation may be relegated to roadmap status for a variety of reasons. These include a higher likelihood of its people exceeding the 90-day limit, engaging in gainful activity without permission, or otherwise violating Waiver Program regulations. Argentina (in 2002) and Uruguay (in 2003) both lost Waiver Program status as a result of their own financial crises. The US administration was concerned that nationals of those countries would overstay their visas or depart in huge numbers. This is consistent with the widely held view that travelers from nations with stable economic and political systems will have little motive to break the requirements of their visas. When awarding Visas, US consulates give such concerns significant weight.

VWP Eligibility

Visa Waiver Program eligibility is governed by more than just economic and political factors. According to some analysts, Israel retains roadmap status because it subjected Palestinian-Americans to extraordinarily severe scrutiny when they visited Israel, in contravention of the VWP’s mutuality provision.

The EU and the US are negotiating Waiver Program admission for Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Romania, all of which have roadmap status and are the only EU nations not in the VWP (with the exception of Croatia, which was admitted to the EU very recently and which is the newest VWP country after a swift accession). Bulgaria’s government stated in November 2014 that it would not ratify the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership unless the United States repealed the need that Bulgarian residents to obtain visas to travel to the United States.

Croatia is the newest member of the Visa Waiver Program, having joined in October 2021.