How to Get a Tour of the West Wing of the White House

Getting into the West Wing during your White House tour requires some effort.

The White House is easily one of the most famous and important public buildings in the world. Thousands of people have had the public tour of the ceremonial rooms of the main residence building. Far fewer have had the opportunity to see the most important rooms in the West Wing, including the Cabinet Room, the Press Room, and the Oval Office. Though getting a West Wing tour is very difficult, here's how you can try to get one.

Get a White House staffer to invite you. West Wing tours are conducted by White House employees with West Wing access (which is not even all White House employees). West Wing tours are conducted on employees' free time, usually on weekends, so they must be willing to volunteer the favor to you. The three categories of visitors most likely to get a West Wing tour are (1) friends and family of White House employees, (2) celebrities or prominent political activists who contact the White House Office of Political Affairs, and (3) friends and prominent supporters of Members of Congress who themselves contact the White House Office of Political Affairs.

Schedule your West Wing tour. The White House has historically had a rule that West Wing tours can only occur outside of regular business hours and when the President is not in the West Wing. Most West Wing tours, therefore, occur on weekends. Your best bet is to try to schedule the tour for a weekend when you know the President will be out of town. Otherwise, if he chooses to work in the West Wing at the time of your tour, your tour may be canceled or postponed.

Provide appropriate personal information to obtain a security clearance. You will need to supply the White House with your full name, birth date, social security number, and possibly other personal data in order for the Secret Service to conduct a background check on you. This is not optional, and if a problem arises, it may prohibit you from being allowed on the tour.

Arrive in appropriate attire at the Northwest Entrance to the White House. The White House has a dress code for tours, though it is fairly flexible. Business casual attire is acceptable. You will start your tour at the Secret Service booth at the Northwest Entrance to the White House grounds. The Secret Service will let you through the security checkpoint after your tour guide arrives to escort you. You will be given a temporary badge to wear at all time on your tour.

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