Helpful information for international travelers
Getting ready for your Illinois experience
International travelers who want to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program are now subject to enhanced security requirements. All eligible travelers who wish to travel under the Visa Waiver Program must apply for authorization.Review the steps to apply.
The dollar is the basic unit of American currency. Foreign currency is not accepted. You can exchange currency at a number of locations in both O’Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport. Currency can also be exchanged at large banks throughout the city of Chicago.Note: Many locations in the city are called "Currency Exchanges," but they do not exchange foreign currency, so call ahead.Currency Converter Tool.
The U.S. uses 110–120 volts, and 60 cycles is standard. If your small appliance uses 220–240 volts, you’ll need to bring a voltage convertor and a plug adapter with two flat parallel plugs.
Illinois is in the Central Standard Time Zone (six hours earlier than GMT). CST is also one hour behind the East Coast and two hours ahead of the West Coast.
See Illinois in all its seasons
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Laws and general customs of Illinois
Liquor & Gaming
The legal drinking and gaming age in Illinois is 21. Your photo ID or passport with birth date is required to buy liquor or gamble.
- Tipping is accepted and appreciated in Illinois.
- 15%–20% for restaurant waitstaff, bartenders and taxicab drivers for standard service.
- About $2 for hotel doorman and valet car parkers
- $2 per bag for bellhops
- $2 per night for maid service
The legal smoking age in Illinois is 18 (your photo ID or passport is required). Illinois smoking regulations are in effect in most public places, and it is illegal to smoke in Chicago parks
- Call 911 toll-free from any public phone to obtain police, fire, or medical assistance.For less-urgent requests, call the local non-emergency number for police.