The White House Resumes Tours: What You Need to Know
After more than a year, the Biden Administration announced that White House tours will resume on Friday and Saturday mornings starting April 15.
Just like in pre-pandemic times, visitors can’t just show up and ask for tickets on the spot. Instead, they'll need to plan their visit with several weeks of anticipation.
Although the White House is managed by the National Park Service, that agency is not responsible for coordinating tickets and reservations. Instead, visitors must make the request with their corresponding member of Congress (or embassy, if they're not a U.S. resident). This can be done between three months and 21 days in advance.
How to Reserve a White House Tour
White House tours are limited to Friday and Saturday mornings (excluding federal holidays or unless otherwise noted) from 8:00am to 12:30pm and are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis. Consider yourselves warned and get those requests in as early as possible!
When submitting the request, visitors are requested to include three potential dates for the tour, as well as the total number of individuals in the party. Pro-tip: Avoid the Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Veterans Day, and Christmas holidays, since tickets are much harder to come by during those popular periods.
Upon receiving the tickets, a set tour time will be confirmed. However, tours might be cancelled at the last minute without explanation. In the case that this happens, visitors will need to submit a new tour request.
What to Expect on the White House Tour
All members of the group that are 18 and older will need to present a valid government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or military ID. If they're not a U.S. citizen, a passport will suffice. Each person’s name, date of birth, city, and state given for the reserved tickets must exactly match the government-issued photo ID presented.
The following items are permitted on the tour:
- Compact cameras with lenses shorter than 3 inches in length;
- Umbrellas without metal tips;
- Small personal items like wallets and cellphones;
- Items needed for medical purposes, such as wheelchairs (which can be requested at the Visitors Entrance), medications, and mobility aids.
The following items are strictly prohibited on White House tours:
- Video cameras, cameras with detachable lenses, tablets, iPads, tripods, monopods and camera sticks;
- Bags of any kind (handbags, purses, book bags, backpacks, diaper bags, and camera bags);
- Any pointed object, including pocket knives;
- Food, liquids, aerosols, tobacco products and personal grooming items;
- Guns, ammunition, fireworks, electric stun guns, mace, martial arts weapons and devices, toy weapons, and knives of any kind.
No on-site storage is available at the White House or the White House Visitor Center, so visitors must plan accordingly and leave prohibited items behind.
After security, the tour itself is one hour long. The group stops at different spots along the way, including the family theater, the East Room, the State Dining Room, and the Blue Room, which is a reception room famous for its holiday decorations.
Visitors might also have the chance to see other spaces like the Oval Office and the South Lawn, where the presidential helicopter Marine One lands and departs.
For more information, the White House Visitor Center is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11:00am to 4:00pm. There, roughly 100 historical artifacts and an interactive touchscreen tour of the White House are on display and available to visitors.
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