During public holidays in the United States, public institutions, post offices and banks are closed. Restaurants and shops often have different opening hours. You can still submit an ESTA application on public holidays. The holidays do not affect the processing time of the ESTA application.
Official holidays in the USA with a fixed date
The USA has ten federal holidays recognised by the United States government. Below are the holidays that occur on a fixed date:
- New Years Day: On 1 January, the past year is looked back on and a new year is ushered in.
- Independence Day: Independence Day, also known as the Fourth of July (after the day it is celebrated), marks the achievement of independence from Great Britain in 1776. Independence Day is one of the most important holidays in the United States. On this holiday, parades and fireworks are held everywhere. Families organise barbecues and picnics.
- Veterans Day: On 11 November, veterans who have served in the US Army are honoured. Veterans Day should not be confused with Memorial Day, which honours all those who have died in military service.
- Christmas Day: For Christmas, Americans pull out all the stops to decorate their homes with lights and other decorations. Christmas Day itself, celebrated on 25 December, is all about getting together with family.
In addition to the national holidays, the various states of the USA have many local holidays, the so-called state holidays. You should therefore check which holidays are celebrated in the states you intend to visit. Public institutions, post offices and banks are usually closed during these holidays and restaurants and shops have different opening hours. You can still submit an ESTA application during the holidays. The application will be processed as normal.
Public holidays in the USA with changeable dates
Most public holidays in the United States take place on the Monday of a fixed week. The reason for this is the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, enacted in 1968. This moved three holidays (Presidents Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day) from a fixed date to a Monday, so that workers would have several long weekends off during the year. In addition, Columbus Day was then introduced as a bank holiday on a Monday. The following holidays are celebrated on a Monday or Thursday of a fixed week in every state:
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Since 1986, the third Monday in January has been marked by the date of birth (15 January 1929) of Martin Luther King Jr. He became famous for his non-violent resistance to racial discrimination.
- Presidents Day: Presidents Day has its origins in the 1980s, when the holiday was created to celebrate the birthday of the first president, George Washington. Today, the holiday honours all presidents of the United States. Several public ceremonies take place on this day, especially in Washington D.C.
- Memorial Day: Memorial Day commemorates the fallen US military. It takes place annually on the last Monday in May. Initially, Memorial Day was established to honour the fallen soldiers of the American Civil War, but nowadays it commemorates all soldiers who died during one of the military operations in which the USA was involved. Besides being a day of remembrance, Memorial Day is a holiday that unofficially marks the beginning of summer. Many families go out for the weekend, making it busy on American roads.
- Labor Day: Labor Day, designated in honour of workers, takes place on the first Monday in September.
- Columbus Day: Columbus Day is a day of commemoration in the United States, commemorating the arrival of Christopher Columbus on the continent of America on 12 October 1492.
- Thanksgiving Day: The fourth Thursday of November in the USA is dedicated to thanking God for the harvest, among other things. Many Americans visit family on this day, which can make roads and airports very busy. Thanksgiving is associated with a number of traditions, such as eating turkey and watching an American football game. Employees are also generally given the Friday after Thanksgiving off, so they can spend the entire weekend with family or do some Christmas shopping on Black Friday.
Public holidays do not affect ESTA application processing times
Only the official national holidays of the United States are listed above. Find out in advance how the public holidays may affect your trip, and decide whether you would prefer to be in the country at that time. Travellers need an ESTA for a holiday, business trip or transit to the USA. This is an electronic travel authorisation that can be applied for online on this website.
When applying for an ESTA, you do not need to take public holidays into account. The ESTA USA can be applied for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including Sundays and public holidays. The public holidays also do not affect the processing time of an ESTA application. ESTA are approved as normal. Once the ESTA has been approved, it is valid for two years. However, this does not mean that you can stay in the country for two consecutive years. There is a maximum stay of 90 days per visit.