US Embassy and Consulate Prohibited Items

Things not to bring to the embassy

If you have applied for a visa or have any business pending with the United States, you will most likely have to visit a U.S. embassy or consulate.

No matter if you have an interview scheduled with a consular officer or if you simply need to submit paperwork as part of your application process, it’s normal to feel a bit anxious about visiting a government building.

Whether you are applying for a B2 tourist visa or other type of travel document, to avoid any unnecessary delays or problems – including missing your appointment – it’s a good idea to learn about the security measures at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world so you know what to expect.

Security Measures at the U.S. Embassy and Consulate

Unfortunately, American embassies and consulates can be a target in the combative, more violent regions of the world. Because of this increased threat level over the past years, U.S. embassies and consulates around the world have greatly increased their security measures. This became especially urgent in the aftermath of the 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Increased security measures include an expanded list of permitted and prohibited items in U.S. embassies and consulates, including more detailed security screenings (including metal detectors), and even stricter verification of the documents that an applicant brings with them. Moreover, at most U.S. diplomatic offices only the applicant can enter the compound – meaning that no children, friends, or family members will be allowed inside.

Items Prohibited Inside the U.S. Embassy

Owing to increased security measures at U.S. embassies and consulates, there is a growing list of items that are prohibited inside U.S. embassies and consulates. This includes the obvious: no weapons, firearms, or explosives of any kind are allowed in an American government building.

The list of things not to bring to a U.S. embassy or consulate has grown considerably over the past years. What follows is only a partial, general list that will apply to most American embassies and consulates. In case of questions, please check with your local consulate or embassy prior to your visit, as security measures depend on your location.

The following items are generally prohibited at American embassies and consulates:

  • Large shoulder bags/purses, backpacks, briefcases, suitcases
  • Battery-operated or electronic devices (e.g., mobile phones, cameras, music players, laptops/tablets, etc.)
  • Any flammable items (e.g., cigarettes, cigars, matchboxes, lighters) or aerosol sprays
  • Any liquids (beverages, hand sanitizers/gels)
  • Sealed envelopes or packages
  • Food or drink

Please note that this list is not exhaustive and that the ultimate decision regarding admission to the embassy or consulate depends on the security team present.

What to Bring to the U.S. Embassy Interview

If you have a scheduled U.S. visa embassy appointment, it can be hard to know what to bring to the interview. Please note that this is a general list and you should confirm the documentation you will need to present with your local U.S. embassy or consulate. Depending on your circumstances, you may need to provide more documents than what is listed below.

Prospective visitors to the United States who have a U.S. visa embassy or consulate appointment should bring the following with them:

  • Interview appointment letter from the National Visa Center (NVC)
  • Valid passport (must be valid for 6 months after intended entry date)
  • Photocopy of biographical (name and photo) page
  • Two passport-sized photos, in color
  • Required civil documents (birth/marriage certificates, police records, etc.)
  • Certified translations of documents into English
  • Medical exam results, if needed
  • Confirmation page from Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application

No matter if you’re applying for a tourist visa or a B1 visa, don’t jeopardize your application and get familiar with the different rules and requirements of visiting a U.S. consulate. Just one small mistake or oversight can mean unnecessary delays – and an increase in the money you spend, not to mention your frustration.

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