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Visiting & Touring the White House

Updated on April 29, 2013
The White House at night.
The White House at night. | Source

A Tour Of The White House

Taking a tour of the United States' capitol? Washington, D.C has so much to offer from historical, art, architectural and cultural viewpoints. On those hallowed grounds, designed by Masons, one may tour the White House, the President's home. A home among homes, built by slaves, ravaged by fire and yet, still remains a symbol among the people who call the United States home.

It's no easy task, this visiting of the White House. It's a journey that must be planned in advance. Even though you will want to plan ahead of time, you won't be allowed to plan farther than six months in advance - and we are only talking about getting tickets to the White House. We haven't even begun to discuss the other points of interest in the District of Columbia.

The official residence of the United States President since 1801.
The official residence of the United States President since 1801. | Source

A Visit To The White House

Here's the least you need to know about how to plan a visit:

  • When you will travel (dates)
  • Find out who your Congressman (or woman) is, if you don't already know.
  • Contact your Congressman through their website, unless they are old school. In that case, you will have to write them a letter, the old fashioned way.
  • Once you are on your Congressman's website, be specific in your request and allow for 2 or 3 different dates as options for when you will want to tour the White House. If one date is not available, there is a chance another one of your preferred dates will be.
  • At some point, you will be contacted by the office of your Congressman and, at that point, you will need to provide the social security number and date of birth of the members of your party who are wishing to visit. My Congressman's staffer requested my social security number by email! Yes, I was mildly alarmed to share such sensitive information in such an unsecure manner. That was the first time I requested a tour to the White House. The second time I made a request, my Congresswoman was unable to accept requests and referred me to my Senators. So, you may end up making the request more than once. This is another good reason to allow for plenty of time when planning.
  • If you do not hear back and there are only a few weeks left until your time of travel, contact the office of your Congressman by picking up the phone and calling them direct.

*** Please note: If you are not a citizen of the United States, you will need to secure permission to visit by going to the embassy of your country once you are in Washington, D.C., and making a formal request through them.

Once Your Tickets To The White House Are Secured

The next step is to be absolutely sure you have acceptable identification on your person when you go on the tour. If you don't, you will be turned away at the door! You have two choices:

  • a government issued US identification card
  • a US passport or an official passport issued by another government

When you go, be sure to avoid bringing things that are not allowed! The list of items that aren't allowed is as weird as can be and includes things you would naturally want to bring, such as purses, or chapstick!

Read this link from the White House so you know what is and is not allowed on your tour: things not allowed.

If the eleventh hour has arrived, and you are about to go to your White House tour, call the White House 24-Hour Visitors Office Information line at (202) 456-7041. Then you will know if there is any change to the schedule or cancellation of tours.

Remember, there is no parking near the White House. You must either take public transportation or walk from very far away.

The White House in winter.
The White House in winter. | Source

Visiting The Capitol

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