Getting into the White House was definitely the hardest thing to cross off my bucket list so far! After applying three different times and then finally getting approved! After two rejection,One would say that I know a thing or two about what it takes to get your foot in the door.To be honest I almost didn't even apply the 3rd time, because of all the prior refusals I was not feeling optimistic about getting in. Thankfully I did not let failure discourage me, I did my research and I applied the correct way and most importantly for the correct time.With my insights you will be visiting the White House a lot quicker than I did! More importantly you will understand the process you must take, in order to get the White house off your to-do list! All of this will be worth it once you entered the most prestigious home in america, you will absorb the history as instantly as you fall in love.
1)How do you apply?
In order to apply for a tour you must contact your local congress women via email. Normally someone on their staff will reply, and you will have to fill out and return the file attached. Be prepared to share all your personal information including your social security number, after all this is the most guarded building In the US you are trying to enter. You must submit the attachment 21 days before your desired date, in order to even be considered for a slot. They use that time to perform a back ground check, that way if you get approved it’s ready to go. The form takes less than five mins to fill out, you will receive an email confirming they received it. The one acceptation to this if you are a citizen of another country, and do not have a US green card(permanent resident card). These individuals must contact their embassy in DC,and ask for assistance in submitting a tour request. Your process will be the same as above, just going through your embassy instead of congress.
2)When should you apply?
Take it from someone that has done this, over and over and over… you want to keep one of two things in mind when applying! The earlier you apply the better,and apply for tour dates during a low tourist season. So that means if you have the luxury of knowing 6 months in advance, that you will be traveling on certain dates to DC take advantage of that information. Truth is, if you expect to get in during high peak tourist season in Washington you better plan ahead. I’m not saying if your only 3 weeks away don’t bother applying, because you never know when they can fit you in. However you will be more likely to get in during the winter months only, if you plan on submitting the request within the 21 days time frame .So remember if you plan on applying during high peak travel time , apply as soon as you possibly can for better chances of getting accepted. If you plan on exploring DC in the winter, 3 weeks should be more than sufficient amount of time for you to get in.
3)Picking a date?
One very important thing to remember is that you should not request a tour on the day you are arriving in DC. Reason for this is you never know if your flight will be delayed etc., plus not to mention the earliest slot they can give you is 7:30am. Unfortunately you don’t get notified of your acceptance or denial of the tour until two weeks prior of your departure date.You can request a tour Tuesday-Saturdays , the time ranges from 7:30am-1:30pm. They let you request a group of dates you would like to attempt to get admission, however you can not specify times. Take advantage of submitting multiple dates, because this will definitely increase your chances of getting selected for a tour.
4) Security Measures
The visitor entrance for the Whitehouse is located caddy cornered across the street from the W hotel. In order to get into the Whitehouse you must wait in line for two different security measures. I will warn you these lines are not short, so I strongly recommend not drinking too much fluids before your tour. (No bathrooms will be available in the White House) First line you stand in they will ask for a form of ID, and will confirm your name on the list of current tours. Then you will proceed to another line, which you will put your belongings through the metal detectors. This is the last security measure before entering the east wing of the white house.
The tour itself is entrancing, the moment you pass all the security measure you will start to feel the magic of being inside such a powerful intuition! The White house has been the home to so many important individuals, all throughout our country history that its empowering to just follow the foots steps of those that have come before us. I'm huge history buff, so walking into the White House for me was like hitting a jackpot! Not to mention It certainly felt that way, when my tour request was approved after all my failed attempts.
6)What will you have access to?
I wish I could tell you that after enduring this entire process, that you get to go anywhere you want in the white house. But unfortunately we only have access to 5 rooms in the east wing, which are the Red Room,Blue Room,Green Room,the State Dining Room, the China Room, and a view of the white house rose garden,library and oval office. I know, I know its does not seem like enough, however we are lucky enough to even be able to explore this magnificent piece of history.So take what you can get, and get the experience of a lifetime you will never forget!
7) Virtual tour
For those of you that think they will never see the inside of the White House, due to an array of different reasons.(From funds to Lack of time) I’m here to say that even if you can’t witness it in person you can always view it online. The president has made it possible for anyone to be able to view all the rooms available in the tour right from the comfort of their home. (Without spending a dime) This was made possible due to a partnership with Google Art Project, whom they allowed to use 360 street view cameras to capture all the footage they needed to make this possible!
8) Prohibited Items
Food, beverages, Tobacco products Hand Bags, Purses, Book bag (pretty much any kind of bag) Strollers, Aerosol containers, any form of weapon or sharp object.