ESTA for Children: Do They Require an ESTA Authorization?

ESTA Guidelines for Children Travelling to US

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Do Children need an ESTA?

Yes, children of all ages are also required to have an ESTA when they travel to the US. Parents or guardians can complete the ESTA application on behalf of children and the ESTA will be linked to the child’s passport.
If you are planning a family trip to the US then there are plenty of factors that you will need to consider from your flight schedule through to arranging travel authorization for your group. If you are travelling to the US, then you should bear in mind that authorization to enter the country is different than some of the countries that you may have visited before. When travelling to the United States, you must obtain travel authorization before you travel, which may be in the form of an ESTA.
An ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) enables travel to the US for a period of up to 90 days. It forms part of the Visa Waiver Program arranged by the US government. The application process can be completed online in a fairly straightforward process, where you must answer a number of questions to ascertain whether you will be granted permission to enter the US.
When you are taking your children to the US, it is important that you also apply for an ESTA for them to travel. Essentially, you will need to apply for children’s ESTAs in the same way that you apply for your own. Anyone under the age of 18 must get an adult to complete their application by answering the questions in the questionnaire. Alternatively, you can complete an ESTA group application to include your entire family to make everything a bit easier.
Children must have their own valid passport to able to qualify for an ESTA and cannot be included on your passport. When you are applying for an ESTA , whether collectively or individually, it is important to apply at least 72 hours before you are travelling.

How to apply for your child’s ESTA?

Before your planned family holiday or trip to visit relatives in the US, you should fill in the online ESTA form for each member of your family. Every individual must have their own separate ESTA and this includes even babies and young children.
Parents and legal guardians are able to fill in the application form on behalf of children and you will just need to disclose that information in the relevant section.
The form contains a series of questions that must be carefully completed, which include name, address, date of birth, passport details and medical details. Once you have completed your child’s ESTA application, you can pay the application fee and submit the application. Each member of the family that you send an application for will have their own unique reference number.

Children with Legal Guardian to Travel

In the circumstance where a child does not have the same family name as the person they are travelling with, supporting documents such as the birth certificate is required to prove the relationship between parent and child.
If the child is travelling with another relative then they are required to have a letter of authorization that is signed by the child’s parents to confirm that they give permission for them to travel. Any legal documents that apply to the child’s identity should be taken to show in evidence that they have parental or legal guardian permission to travel.

How long is an ESTA valid for?

When you apply for an adult or a child ESTA, it will be valid for two years or until the linked passport expires (whichever comes sooner). That does not mean that you can stay in the US for two years though, as an ESTA limits to a 90 day stay maximum. However, one of the great benefits of an ESTA is that you are able to make multiple trips to the US within that two year validity provided that you do not stay for longer than the 90 days limit.
If your passport, or your child’s passport expires then the associated ESTA also expires and you would need to apply for a completely new ESTA that will then be electronically linked to your new passport.

What if I need a US visa for my spouse and children?

If you are travelling to the US for longer than the 90 day limit, or your reason for visiting the US is not tourism or business then you would be required to complete a US visa related to the purpose of travel. There are many different types of US visa and some of them have related visas for a visa holder’s children and spouse.

How to apply for a family US visa?

Firstly, the main visa holder will need to strong submit their visa application and attend an interview at the US Embassy. If the visa is an employment visa, they will be required to provide supporting documents that show their employment contract, purpose of job etc. If that visa is approved then it will be possible to apply for the related visa for dependents.
Applying for a group ESTA
To save time and process all of the family's travel authorization at once, you can simply fill in the online form for groups travelling to the US. Any children under 18 visiting the US must be accompanied by their parents or legal guardian, so be aware of that if you are applying for a child’s ESTA.
The form itself should not take too long to complete, with information being asked such as the family name and the details of the applicant. You must complete a list of questions including personal details, passport information and also your travel plans. There is a section titled ‘Details about your health and character’ in which you are required to provide information regarding your health and some questions related to criminal convictions, as well as asking whether you have travelled to Iraq, Syria, Iran or Sudan since March 1 2011.

Written by Abisola Fikayomi

Abisola is an accomplished writer interested in US Travel, immigration, passports and visas. She’s passionate about exploring new places and cultures and willing to share her experiences, expertize and findings with others. That is her primary drive for specialising in this industry.


Yes, any non-US citizen travelling to the US requires an ESTA, including children of all ages. The parents or guardian of children travelling to the US should complete the ESTA form on behalf of their child, to acquire travel authorization for them. The ESTA will be linked to the child’s passport.
Yes, if your child is a non-US citizen and they are travelling to the US then they will require their own ESTA. Children of all ages need an ESTA as travel authorization to visit the United States. The ESTA application can be completed by the parents or guardian of a child who is travelling to the US.
There is no minimum age that you need to be to get an ESTA. An ESTA is required for all ages of travellers to the US, so newborn babies, infants and teenagers all require an ESTA, as well as adults.
Yes, even children under the age of 16 must have an ESTA as travel authorization to visit the US. An adult will need to complete the ESTA application on behalf of a child under the age of 16. Once the ESTA has been approved, it will link to the child’s passport.
Yes, it is possible for a child to travel to the USA without their parents but the relative must have a letter of authorization from the child’s parents to confirm that they have permission for them to travel. Where a child is travelling with someone that does not have the same family name, supporting documents should be provided to show the relationship to the child.
No, even though your child will have birthright citizenship if they are born in the US, you would have to wait until they are 21 years old before they can apply for a Green Card for their immediate relatives.
If children are travelling domestically in the US they do not require a passport to fly but children do require passports if they are travelling internationally. So, if your child is travelling to the US from another country, they will need a passport.
Yes, all ages of children are required to have an ESTA as travel authorization to enter the US. This includes preschool children and infants, with the parents or legal guardian of the child completing the ESTA application on their behalf.
The parents or legal guardians of minors must complete an ESTA application on behalf of the child. Minors require their own ESTA that links electronically to their passport and can be used for multiple trips to the US while the ESTA is valid.
The application fee for an ESTA is $21 per person, including for children. If you require a service to speed up the application and get support with completing the form, there will be an additional cost for this.
A child who is travelling to the US for tourism, to meet family and friends or for medical or transport purposes will benefit from ESTA travel authorisation. Anyone using the ESTA must not stay in the US for longer than 90 days in total.
The ESTA travel authorization system has been introduced by the US government to improve border control and to protect the US from risks such as terror acts or infections, for example. To be able to monitor all travelers entering the US, even children must have an ESTA.