A journey to Washington, DC, isn’t complete without seeing the White House. The trip can only happen if you prepare ahead of time. Requests for tours of the White House must be submitted at least three weeks in advance of the date visitors wish to visit.
Planning ahead is essential for a tour of the White House. Requests for public tours can be made up to three months in advance, but no less than 21 days before your visit, through your member of Congress. Please call the consulate of your native country in Washington, DC, if you are a foreign tourist interested in scheduling a tour.
Due to high demand and a small capacity, trips often reach capacity well in advance of the requested date. There is a first-come, first-served policy for tourist spots. White House visits are provided at no cost. Please be aware that the formal White House schedule may result in last-minute cancellations of visits.
Even though you can’t go inside the White House unless you arrange a tour through your delegate in Congress, you can get a good look at it from Lafayette Square on Pennsylvania Avenue NW and the Ellipse in front of the White House. The present barrier around the White House is only 6 feet in height, but work has begun on a new fence that will be 13 feet tall and much stronger and wider.
What to expect from a visit to the White House?
If there is the opportunity for a tour during your stay in DC, you will be provided check-in details and a time and date to arrive. At check-in, all visitors over the age of 18 will be asked to provide a government-issued picture identification. Passports will be checked for foreign citizens. Bring as little as you can get away with (avoid backpacks, food, large handbags, bottled water, etc.).
Keep in mind that video recording devices and flash photography are not permitted inside the White House, but cellphones and compact cameras with lenses no longer than 3 inches are allowed on the public tour path. The White House has strict security measures in place for all visitors. At the White House, there are no facilities for visitors to use. The nearest restrooms are at the adjacent Ellipse Visitor Pavilion.
The East Wing’s public spaces, including the Blue Room, Red Room, and Green Room, as well as the State Dining Room, China Room, and the White House Rose Garden, are all open to the public on visits to the White House. Members of the Secret Service are stationed in each area and can be approached with inquiries about the room’s background and design.
The White House also welcomes guests for tours of its gardens as well in the autumn and spring. When October begins, and April begins, check whitehouse.gov. Garden walks are typically advertised no more than two weeks before they take place.
The typical length of a garden trip is two full days. Bad weather could force the cancellation of these events. All participants must have a valid ticket (including small children). Each day of the walk, the National Park Service will begin handing out passes at the Ellipse Visitor Pavilion, located at 15th and E streets NW, at 9 a.m.
Some facts and tips about visiting the White House
- The average time spent on a self-guided tour is 45 minutes.
- You will need to stand outside until your trip begins, so please dress appropriately.
- Please be on time, but not more than 15 minutes early. Those who arrive late risk being denied entry.
- There will be Junior Ranger pamphlets available, and a National Park Ranger will assist in getting you in the right group.
- The White House will provide an RSVP link, and all visitors are required to register in advance (via email).
- There is a strict no-flash policy in effect for every form of media.
- The journey is self-guided, but the Secret Service agents can provide valuable insights into the exhibits.
Important information that you should know before visiting the White House
White House visits are provided at no cost. There are times when formal occurrences necessitate rearranging concert tours. Perhaps it won’t be until the morning that notice is provided. The most up-to-date information can be found on the tape at the Visitors Office’s 24-hour Information Line (202-456-7041).
The number for the hearing-impaired relay service is (202) 456-2121. Tour times can be confirmed by contacting the information number the evening before and again first thing in the morning of your stay. On rare occasions, it may be necessary to temporarily shut certain sections of the trip without giving advance warning.
The White House forbids parking on the block, so visitors are urged to take public transit instead. The southeast intersection of 15th and E Streets is the White House Visitor Center, and the nearest Metrorail stops are Federal Triangle (blue and orange lines) and Metro Center (blue, orange, and red lines).
The closest public cellphones and bathrooms are located at the White House Visitor Center and the Visitor Pavilion in the park region south of the White House.
After passing a security check, visitors are allowed to bring cameras into the White House, but they are not allowed to take photos or record video once they are inside.
Animals (with the exception of service animals), large bags, balloons, drinks, gum, electric shock weapons, pyrotechnics, food, firearms, ammo, knives with blades longer than three inches (eight centimeters), mace, nunchucks, smoking, and luggage are not allowed inside the White House.
- What is the exact address of the White House? 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500.
- How to get to the White House? Federal Triangle (Blue and Orange lines), Metro Center (Blue, Orange, and Red lines), and McPherson Square (Blue and Orange lines) are the nearest Metro stops to the White House. Parking is NOT available in the White House area. Using public transit is highly suggested.