ESTA Form - Travelling to the United States of America without a visa is simple!

The U.S. Electronic System for Travel Authorisation

The Electronic System for Travel Authorisation, or ESTA, allows for an easy entrance into the United States of America for those with business, tourism or transit purposes and grants a maximum stay of 90 days per visit. Citizens from 38 countries, who are associated with the American ESTA system, can benefit from this programme – the traditional visa application process, which includes an appointment at the Embassy is no longer required, thanks to the ESTA application.

The ESTA application can be requested and submitted via

https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/

The ESTA Travel Programme

We’ve created a short video to assist you with your ESTA form for your journey to the USA. The contents of the video contains a brief but essential overview, detailing what the ESTA is, who the ESTA is intended for, how to apply and also the benefits of ESTA along with additional important information for your Visa-Free Travel. Find out all you need to know before you start your adventure to the United States of America.

Esta Infographic

ESTA summed up with a simple infographic

Check out our infographic to get a brief overview of the ESTA process, its barriers and its benefits.

What is ESTA?

Electronic resource for visa-free travel

The Electronic System for Travel Authorisation, is a programme that can be used by those travelling to the United States of America, by boat or plane, without having to apply for a visa. ESTA was launched by the U.S. Government and is subject to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The purpose of this system, among others, is to simplify short stays in the United States. However, ESTA is mainly a means of border protection, since it determines whether applicants represent a potential security risk to the United States.

Who is ESTA for?

Tourists, business persons & those with connecting flights

In order to make use of this programme, the purpose of the applicants trip has to be touristic or business in nature and the duration of the visit should not exceed 90 days.

Anybody that has a connecting flight that lands within the U.S. also needs to apply for an ESTA, even if that person doesn't intend to leave the airport.

It is not necessary to acquire an ESTA if your flight flys over the U.S., but doesn't land there.

Furthermore, it is a requirement that every traveller has a valid passport for the entire duration of their stay in the United States and is a citizen of one of the 38 countries participating in the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP).

Online application for ESTA

Once the applicant meets the criteria mentioned above, it is then possible to register for the ESTA application. This is possible through the website of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This website can be found above. Usually, applicants are advised to apply for the ESTA at least 72 hours prior to departing to the United States.

Applicants will not be presented with an authorisation email stating whether their ESTA has been approved or not. Applicants should check their ESTA authorisation on the official site. Approval can take up to 72 hours, although, normally it will only take a couple of minutes. Therefore, registrations that are completed shortly before departure are permitted. However, it is always better to be safe than sorry!

The application is associated with a fee. If you plan on travelling to the United States with more than one person, it is possible to submit an ESTA application for up to 50 people.

Where can ESTA be used?

The ESTA programme for visa exemption applies to the entire United States of America, including Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Within the allocated 90 day validity period, you can take trips to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean whilst returning back to the United States by any means. However, you may be requested to prove that you have sufficient financial resources for your entire trip.

Another requirement is that you have to provide adequate information regarding flights departing back home in each case of entry to the U.S. Otherwise, you may be denied access into the country.

Which countries participate in the ESTA programme?

Citizens from the following 38 countries can apply for ESTA

If you are a citizen or national of one of the participating Visa Waiver Programme countries below, you would be eligible to apply for an ESTA.

  • Andorra
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Brunei
  • Chile
  • Czech Rep.
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • San Marino
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • South Korea
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom

Important notice for travelling to the USA

In January 2016, the U.S. implemented changes to the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, stating that any persons who hold a dual nationality with Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria and a country listed in the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP), would be ineligible to travel to, or be admitted into the USA using the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP).

Travel restrictions

If you have travelled to, or been present within any of the aforementioned countries and or Libya, Somalia or Yemen, on or after 1st March 2011, you would also be ineligible to travel to or be admitted into the USA, via the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP). (There are limited spaces available for those that travelled to the countries referred to above, with military or diplomatic purposes in the service of a Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) country.)

These persons can still apply for a traditional visa to enter the United States.

You can travel to the United States from Cuba, however, you may want to take documents with you for the officials at the port of entry to clarify why you were there and what you’re going to be doing in the USA.

Government directive

On March 25th, 2017, a U.S. government directive issued by the DHS, will prohibit larger electronic devices on nonstop flights to the USA from Kuwait, Qatar, Morocco, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt, as a safety protection precaution. This directive is valid until October 14, 2017.

Seek advice from your embassy

If you have any doubts regarding travelling to the USA, ensure that you contact the Embassy as soon as possible. By contacting the Embassy, you can establish any potential problems or restrictions that you may be faced with when applying for your ESTA.

Applying for ESTA

Step by step

Coming Soon ...

How Long is my ESTA Valid for?

The ESTA is valid for two years.

Providing that your ESTA authorisation is granted, it will remain valid for two years. If the passport expires before the two-year validity period, the ESTA will also expire. You have to apply for a new ESTA if your passport expires.

Within the two-year period, you may theoretically travel to the United States as often as you please. Although, this should not be attempted any more than 2-3 times per year, otherwise, you could be suspected of illegal immigration and questioned by authorities.

Please note that a valid ESTA authorisation doesn't guarantee the ESTA holder entry into the U.S., as the authorities in the U.S. have the ultimate decision on who can or cannot access the country. The ESTA only allows for the start of the trip. Individuals who are not granted an ESTA approval have to apply for a traditional visa.

Children and ESTA

Considerations for travelling with children to the U.S.

First of all, children entering the United States of America need their own ESTA, if they are citizens of one of the VWP countries.

Additionally, children’s IDs, children’s machine-readable passports which were issued after 26/10/2006, or children travelling on their parent’s passport, are no longer accepted methods for children to be granted visa-free travel in 2017.

To travel to the United States without any problems, children need either a machine-readable passport or a child’s passport which was issued before 26/10/2006 and has not been extended since, or a child’s electronic passport.

Furthermore, the passport must contain a photo, along with all the biometric data and must not have been altered in any other way. Otherwise, it is necessary for the child to apply for a visa.

Can I complete the ESTA application for my child?

Absolutely! Parents can complete the ESTA application for their children.

If you’re completing the ESTA application on behalf of your child, simply click on the ‘Waiver of Rights’ section - for 3rd party submissions on behalf of the applicant - it is important to note that all information provided on the application must be correctly submitted as their legal guardian.

Entry regulations of the USA

Due to a mixture of rules, you should take plenty of time to plan your trip to the United States, thereby avoiding any unexpected incidents when entering the country.

Electronic items

First, it is strictly prohibited to take any electronic equipment with a weak or dead battery on board certain flights. Thus, checking your mobile phone and laptop are charged before you arrive at the airport is vital. Violations of these regulations may result in refusal of entry to the aircraft.

Documents and customs

During the flight, you will be given a document to complete, the 6059B customs form. Fortunately, this can be downloaded, typed and printed prior to arrival in the U.S. Once you arrive, you can use that as your official declaration form.

Electronic form I94- / I94W

Persons wishing to travel to the United States with a visa are no longer required to complete the I-94 form. This information can be accessed online. If you require an I-94 form, a paper copy can be made available for you at the entrance point.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

After your arrival, you will pass through U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement checkpoints. Here, your documents will be verified.

In addition, a Customs Border Protection (CBP) official will complete the US-VISIT process with you. Whereby, an agent will collect your fingerprint information along with a picture of you.

Biometric data

Using this biometric data, your identity and unique identifiers will then be checked. What’s more, the information will be cross-referenced with a database to check whether you are a known or suspected terrorist, criminal or illegal immigrant.

The U.S. officials are also entitled to receive details of your travel plan. Therefore, it is advised that you bring a copy of this information with you.

A visa would only be necessary if you have not been granted an ESTA authorisation.

Passport requirements

Ensure that you have a valid electronic passport when travelling to the United States. In order to travel to the United States, it is absolutely essential to have an electronic passport, which contains all of your biometric information, along with your passport photo.

Additionally, it is compulsory to have a machine-readable section on the biographical page.Your passport must be valid for the entire duration of your stay, including the day of departure.

Declaration of goods

Routine searches of your luggage are always possible, even if you have not specified dutiable items. To make sure that no misunderstandings occur, you should check the complete list of dutiable items on cbp.gov. (CBP).

Entering the U.S. by land

Should you intend to travel from Canada or Mexico by land, you should note that you might need to show your driving license, your vehicle documents and proof of liability insurance.

What’s more, you are not required to have an ESTA if you are entering the United States by land, instead you must complete the previously mentioned I94W form at the border.

Frequently asked questions about the ESTA form (FAQS)

Why is an ESTA travel permit necessary?

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) established ESTA on behalf of the U.S. Government. In this way, the security of visa-free travel is to be increased.

What data is required to complete the ESTA form?

Each application must include biographical data. This includes your name, surname, date of birth and information on your passport. In addition, there are questions regarding possible communicable diseases, arrests, convictions and previous entry applications. To pay the applicable fee, credit card information is also required. For group requests, each applicant is responsible for the accuracy of the information concerning him or herself.

What is the national identification number and does this field need to be filled out?

The National Identification Number doesn't exist in the U.K. Therefore, your selected answer would be “NONE/UNKNOWN” as a British citizen.

May a third party fill out an application for me?

Yes, this possibility exists. Friends, relatives, employees of a travel agency or any other person can fill in your application for you and pay the fee. However, the applicant is solely responsible for the accuracy of the information presented.

How far in advance do I need to apply for ESTA authorisation?

Applications can be made at any time prior to travel. However, it is recommended to do this as early as possible, as there may be occasional delays in the granting of authorisation. But, since not all trips are planned in advance and some trips may be booked due to an urgent emergency, it is also possible to submit applications shortly before your departure. The U.S. agency recommends submitting the application at least 72 hours prior to departure.

How much time does the system require for processing my personal data?

In most cases, a decision will be made within a few minutes after the successful submission of the request. However, you will not be notified by e-mail, but the decision can be viewed exclusively on the official site. In individual cases, the approval may take up to 72 hours.

What responses can I get to my request?

Authorisation Approved: If you receive this response, your application has been accepted and you can leave for your trip.

Travel Not Authorised: In this case, your ESTA application has been rejected. In order to travel to the U.S., a conventional B-Visa is required.

Authorisation Pending: This response means that your case has not yet been decided. You should revisit the site within the next 72 hours to check on your progress.

What if a single request from a group request is “pending”? Does this mean that the decision regarding the remaining applications is delayed?

No. Should any of the applications from a group exhibit the status “Pending” the remaining applications are not affected.

Can I make several trips to/ from the U.S., even though I only have one permit?

Yes. An application is normally valid for two years. During this period, you may travel to the United States as often as you please. However, you should spend no more than 180 days in the U.S. during a calendar year, as this may otherwise lead to interrogations by U.S. officials at the border since they might suspect illegal immigration.

When must I submit a new ESTA application?

A new travel authorisation is required when:

  • The ESTA holder receives a new passport.
  • The traveller changes his/ her name.
  • The traveller changes his/ her gender.
  • The nationality of the person travelling changes.
  • Circumstances, which lead to a change in the answers to one of the required “Yes” or “No” questions.

Must travellers with a stop-over in the United States obtain an ESTA approval?

Yes. At American airports, there are not any transit areas, which is why everyone is counted as entering the U.S. Therefore, a valid ESTA approval is mandatory.

Should travellers flying non-stop to a country and crossing the American air space also fill out an ESTA application?

In this instance, an ESTA is not required because the plane doesn't land and will therefore not enter American soil.

Must travellers complete a new ESTA application if their flight is cancelled due to strikes, adverse weather conditions or when rebooking their flight?

No. Once an ESTA application has been approved, it is usually valid for two years.

Must travellers without a visa carry a printout of their ESTA approval?

No, not necessarily. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) passes on the status of an applicant to the respective authorities. However, carrying a printout is advised to avoid any misunderstandings.

I have forgot my ESTA application number. How can I log back into the system to query my status or change my information?

In case of loss of this number, you can retrieve this number by entering your name, your date of birth, your passport number and your nationality on the official website.

What happens if I lose my group identification number?

The system makes it possible to retrieve this number and will send the number to the e-mail address specified during registration.

Is my data secure?

Yes. The website is operated by the U.S. Government and uses technology designed to prevent unauthorised entry. However, your data can be used in investigations in certain cases, for example.