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White House Tour Tickets

Obtaining White House tour tickets is not that hard, but be prepared to request them for the self-guided tours far in advance. It's recommended that you plan a tour of the White House about six months prior to when you visit. Since that is so far out, and plans can often change at the last minute, have a back-up date on when you wish to tour the White House.

Tour Protocols

White House tour tickets

There is no fee to take a White House tour. The tours are considered "self-guided" and are given to groups of 10 or more. If you don't happen to have at least 10 in your group, White House tour staff will accommodate you by including you in another group.

Self-guided means the following:

  • The entire tour takes about 20 minutes. You go from room to room on your own.
  • You take in the first floor corridor and peek in the Vermeil room and White House Library.
  • You go up the stairs to the State floor.
  • Then you head by the East, Blue, Red, Green, and State rooms.
  • You leave the White House through the north portico.
  • If you have questions, there is a Secret Service Tour Officer at each room to ask.

Tour times are from 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and run from Tuesday through Saturday. This does not include federally recognized holidays. Sometimes, you can catch a tour of the White House Gardens and Grounds, but the dates these are held on are hard to determine. It's best if you call ahead to find out dates and times. The 24-hour White House Tour line is 202-456-7041.

You do need white house tour tickets during peak season. This runs from the third Tuesday in March until the weekend before Labor Day. If you go to the White House Visitor Center, you can get tickets from the National Park Service. This building is at the corner of E and 15th Street. You should see a few blue awnings and a few American Flags. NOTE: You cannot get these tickets in advance. Beginning at 7:30 a.m., you are able to line up and get four tickets per person. Every person needs a ticket, children included. Tickets stop being handed out at noon, or before, if the batch for that day is complete.

If you decide to tour the White House during the non-peak season, then all you have to do is get to the southeast gate by noon. No ticket needed.

Congressional Tours

If you have time to give advanced notice (approximately two to five months), then you might be able to get reserved tickets from a Senator or House of Representative member from your state. These tours also run Tuesday through Saturday, but start at a strict block of time from 8:15 to 8:45 a.m.

Write or call the office of the representative or Senator and see if there are any reserved tickets available for a Congressional tour. They are free, but in limited supply. The total time of the tour takes about 30 minutes and is done in a large group of 70, as opposed to the self-guided tours in groups of 10. The Congressional tour has a guide with narration to support the tour.

After receiving the White House tour tickets via your local statesmen's office, you need to verify that everything is set. This just means that the tickets are accounted for and you won't have any trouble when you line up on your tour day.

Things to Bring

Since the White House is a flurry of security activity, and the President of the United States spends his time there, be aware that you are allowed to bring very few things. Barring equipment for health issues, wheelchairs, or food for health-related needs, you can only bring in the acquired tickets and either a passport or driver's license. If you do not have a ticket and it is peak season, then you will NOT be allowed inside the White House.

By Gregory M. Thompson