Chicago

on March 31th, 2020 (JST) current information.
Furthermore, the details under "Visa", "Passport" and "Note When you travel to the United States" are for Japanese nationals.
This information is likely to change suddenly, so please contact the relevant official authority (e.g., embassy) for the latest information.

Immigration and Visa

Visa

No visa is usually required for tourism or business trips within ninety days. However, entry to the US is often denied for those entering and exiting frequently, or those staying in the US for a long time. Those traveling with a visa waiver must obtain electronic travel authorization from ESTA (excluding entry by land).

Passport

It is preferable to have a passport that is valid for at least 90 days from the date of entry.

  • Note for travel to the United States

Note When you travel to the United States

ESTA

When using the visa waiver program to travel to or through (via) the U.S. without a visa by air or sea, you must obtain travel authorization from ESTA online (not possible on your phone). Do not forget this, as you may be refused boarding onto the plane or denied entry into the U.S. if you fail to obtain travel authorization from ESTA before your trip. When you obtain ESTA authorization, it is valid for two years and you can travel to the U.S. multiple times (you do not need to renew it every time you change your schedule or visit somewhere). The final permission for entry is given by the immigration inspector at the first port of entry.
Apply for and obtain travel authorization from ESTA soon after your plans to travel to the U.S. have been fixed. (It is strongly recommended that you complete the procedure at least 72 hours before leaving your country). You can no longer receive instant authorization after application, so it is best to complete the process early. The application can be made by a relative, travel agency (for a fee), or other third party.

ESTA term of validity

Generally 2 years. However, if your passport expires before the authorization term ends, your ESTA authorization also expires. You must also re-apply if your name or passport number changes.

ESTA registration fee

Fee: $14

Changes in the visa waiver program

According to 2015 changes in the visa waiver program and the enactment of the Terrorist Travel Prevention Act, individuals who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011 cannot travel to the U.S. using the visa waiver program. Relevant travelers must apply for a visa using the regular method at the American Embassy. For more information, see the American Embassy visa waiver programpage.

  • Visa, passport, and other information is subject to change without notice. Be sure to check with the Embassy, Consulate, or travel agency.

Quarantine

When visiting from Japan, it is prohibited to bring the following items into the United States.

  • a. Fruit, vegetables, plants, seeds, foods, insects, plant products
  • b. Meat, processed meat, animals, animal or wild animal products (foods that contain eggs or meat extracts are also prohibited)
  • c. Disease agents, cell cultures, snails
  • d. Soil
  • Alcohol such as absinthe with the alcohol content of 70% or more cannot be brought in to the country.
  • Examples of food products that contain meat extract are cup noodles, furikake rice seasonings, curry roux, and instant soups.

Customs

Bringing in e-cigarettes

The scope for tax exemption is 200 cigarettes, same as for regular cigarettes.

If you want to enter in less than 18 years of age

Children entering the country without both parents may be asked to present a consent form for the trip (in English) from their parents or the non-accompanying parent. For more information, inquire with the American Embassy.

For bringing and possession of tax-free cigarettes

You must declare cash amounts US$10,000 or more (including travelers cheques). For travelers who are 21 or older, tax is exempt for 1 L of alcohol for personal consumption or gifts up to $100 in value. Tax is exempt for up to 200 cigarettes (or 50 cigars or 2 kg for cut tobacco). All food products containing vegetables, fruit, meat, or meat extracts are not allowed to be brought into the country.

Time difference and Daylight Saving Time

Time difference

There are four time zones in mainland U.S. Chicago is in the Central Time Zone (CST) and is 15 hours behind Japan. (It is 9PM the previous day in Chicago when it is noon in Japan.) In summer, almost all states use Daylight Saving Time (summertime) and the clocks move forward an hour. The time difference between Japan and Chicago becomes an hour shorter. Daylight Saving Time is from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November. When traveling, be careful of the changes in the time difference.

Climate

Climate

Chicago also has four seasons, but spring and fall are shorter than in Japan and winter is longer and colder. Snow falls in winter and the temperature drops to -20°C or lower. When there is a breeze, it feels cooler than the actual temperature. Summer to early fall is the best time to visit as the weather is stable and there are tons of events. Pay attention to what you wear no matter what season it is, as the weather changes dramatically throughout the day and there are large temperature differences.

The average maximum temperature in Tokyo and Chicago, The average minimum temperature in Tokyo and Chicago
Month The average maximum temperature in Tokyo The average mimimum temperature in Tokyo The average maximum temperature in Chicago The average mimimum temperature in Chicago
Jan.10℃2℃1℃-8℃
Feb.10℃2℃3℃-5℃
Mar.13℃5℃12℃0℃
Apr.18℃10℃18℃5℃
May23℃15℃20℃12℃
Jun.25℃18℃27℃15℃
Jul.28℃23℃28℃20℃
Aug.31℃24℃27℃19℃
Sep.27℃21℃23℃15℃
Oct.23℃15℃20℃8℃
Nov.17℃10℃10℃2℃
Dec.13℃5℃4℃-4℃
The average precipitation in Tokyo and Chicago
Month The average precipitation in Tokyo The average precipitation in Chicago
Jan.50mm70mm
Feb.60mm50mm
Mar.110mm80mm
Apr.130mm100mm
May130mm110mm
Jun.160mm90mm
Jul.160mm100mm
Aug.150mm110mm
Sep.210mm80mm
Oct.160mm80mm
Nov.90mm90mm
Dec.40mm80mm

Currency and Exchange Rate, Tax, Currency exchange, Tip

Currency and Exchange Rate

US banknotes and coins

The unit of currency is dollars ($) and cents (¢). $1 is JPY105 (as of March 10, 2020). There are six denominations of banknotes: $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100. Note that many smaller shops do not accept $50 or $100 bills. There are six types of coins: 1¢, 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, 50¢, and 100¢ (100¢ is $1), but the 50¢, and 100¢ coins are not widely distributed.

Tax

There is a sales tax applied when making purchases and a hotel tax applied when staying at hotels. The rate (%) varies with the state or city. When eating at a restaurant, you will also be charged tax that is equal to or higher than the sales tax. There is no sales tax in certain places like Oregon and Montana, and states like Lousiana and Texas have a tax refund system for overseas travelers.

Tip

It is customary to tip when receiving any type of service, for example at restaurants, in taxis, or when staying at hotels (e.g. to the bellhop or housekeeping staff). The amount differs depending on whether a special request was made or the level of satisfaction with the service, but the following values serve as references.

  • Restaurants: 15 to 20% of the total. If a service charge is included with the meal, leave some change on the table or tray when leaving.
  • Taxis: Tips are about 15% to 20% of the fare (at least 1 USD).
  • Hotels: Depending on the size and number of pieces of luggage, bellhops should be tipped about $2 to 3 per piece. Tip well if you have a lot of luggage. Leave $2 on the pillow for housekeeping staff.

Voltage and plug

Voltage

The voltage is 120 V. Plugs are three-pin. Although Japanese products with 100 V, two-pin plugs can be used as is, it should be noted that there is a minor voltage difference. Extended use of appliances such as hair dryers or chargers may result in overheating, so special measures should be taken, such as breaking up usage into shorter durations of time.

Video and DVD

Video and DVD

The TV and video system is NTSC in both Japan and the US, and the Blu Ray region code is A in both Japan and the US, so media from both countries can be played on media players in the other country. However, the DVD region code is 1 for the US and 2 for Japan. Therefore media that does not include both region codes or the label 'All codes' is not cross-compatible.

Mail

Mail

Postal fees

Airmail to Japan is $1.15 for letters and postcards. There are some postal methods with a set rate for using a specified envelope or box.

Post office hours

Hours vary slightly between towns/cities. Post offices are generally open from around 9:00 to 17:00 on weekdays.Postal boxes are blue. Mail designated as EXPRESS MAIL is only express for domestic deliveries.

Phone Call

How to phone

Telephoning Japan from the United States of America

Ex. When calling (03) 1234-5678
STEP1

dial 011 (International telephone identification numbers)

STEP2

81 (Country Code, Japan)

STEP3

3 (Remove the first 0 for area codes)

STEP4

1234-5678 (Other parties telephone No.)

Telephoning the United States of America from Japan

Ex. When calling Los Angeles (213) 123-456
STEP1

International Telephone Company No.

  • 001 (KDDI)*1
  • 0033 (NTT Communications) *1
  • 0061 (SoftBank) *1
  • 005345 (au Mobile) *2
  • 009130 (NTT DoCoMo Mobile) *3
  • 0046 (SoftBank Mobile)*4
STEP2

010 (International Identification No.)

STEP3

1 (Country Code, The United States of America)

STEP4

213 (Area Code)

STEP5

123-4567 (Other parties telephone No.)

  • *1.Not required if you have an international registration with "My Line" or "My Line Plus". See URL My Line/My Line Plus(www.myline.org) for details.
  • *2.au does not require 005345.
  • *3.Pre-registration to World Wing is required for NTT DoCoMo. Does not require 009130.
  • *4.Call are possible without dialing 0046 from SoftBank.
  • For the three cell phone carriers, hold down 0 until + appears, then add the country code and the phone number your wish to dial.

Holiday / National holiday

Holiday / National holiday

Note that some states have different holidays. Shops that claim to be open year-round are almost always closed on New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. Also, many stores have different hours during the summer holidays from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

2020

  • January 1: New Year's Day
  • 3rd Monday of January: Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.
  • 3rd Monday of February: Presidents' Day
  • March 17: St. Patrick's Day*1
  • March 31: Cesar Chavez Day
  • 3rd Monday of April: Patriots' Day*1
  • Last Monday of May: Memorial Day
  • July 4: Independence Day
  • 1st Monday in September: Labor Day
  • 2nd Monday in October: Columbus Day*1
  • November 11: Veterans Day
  • 4th Thursday in November: Thanksgiving Day
  • December 25: Christmas Day
  • *1.Some states have different holidays.

Language

Language

Mostly English, although it is not the law. Spanish is used in many places across the US.

Business hours, etc

Business hours

Below are guidelines for general business hours. Hours vary with the type of business and location. Supermarkets are open either 24-hours a day or 22-hours. It is not rare for stores to close at around 19:00 in the countrysied.

Banks

Mon. to Fri. 9:00 to 17:00.

Department Stores/Shops

Mon. to Fri. 10:00 to 20:00, Sat. 10:00 to 19:00, Sun. 11:00 to 18:00.

Restaurants

Coffee shops and other cafes are open from the morning. Breakfast is from 7:00 to 10:00, lunch from 11:30 to 14:30, and dinner from 17:30 to 22:00. Bars are open until late at night.

Age Limit

Although it varies by state, the drinking age is generally 21. Some places require you to show ID when buying alcohol. ID is also required at clubs and other places that serve alcohol. In the US, there is a very high rate of car accidents among younger drivers, and, with very few exceptions, almost all major car rental companies do not rent cars to people under 25. Extra fees are often required for drivers between the age of 21 and 24.

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