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Can children fly with ESTA?

If a child is the citizen of a country that is part of the Visa Waiver Program then they will require a valid ESTA to travel to the United States. This applies to children of all ages, including infants, in the exact same way that adults require an ESTA for permission to enter the US.
Children will also require their own passport, so they cannot travel under their parent’s passport, like there are able to when visiting some countries.
The child must have an unexpired biometric/electronic passport (one which must be machine readable and possess a digital photograph of the bearer integrated into the biographical data page).
The passport must have a minimum of one blank page for the stamp. If the passport is due to expire within six months, then the authorisation obtained through ESTA, which is normally 2 years, will only last until the date that the passport expires.
A person under 18 years of age may not complete the ESTA on their own and an adult must complete on their behalf. Any child’s application completed without assistance from an adult will be automatically rejected. However, you can submit the application as part of a group application, if you are applying for several ESTAs at the same time e.g. family holiday.
If you are filling out the form on behalf of a person aged under 18, please ensure that you tick the relevant box applicable to third parties with respect to the Waiver of Rights, as is detailed further in Can a third party fill out ESTA for me?.
An adult who is applying for a child must state their relationship with the child within the application.
The fee for applying for a child is the same as the fee of an adult application. The validity period of the authorisation and the response time from authorities are also the same as with adult applications.

Children with different surnames to who they are travelling with

If a child is travelling with a parent with a different surname to them, the parent should be able to provide documentation such as the birth certificate as evidence that they are the child’s parent. Carrying a copy of the other parent’s passport with a letter of authorization signed by the other parent is advisable.
Where a child is travelling with adults who are not their parents, such as grandparents or family friends, then the adults will need to provide other official documents for the child to get permission to travel with them.
Where a child is travelling alone without their parents, then a letter of authorisation to leave the country signed by the child’s parents or legal guardians of the child, together with copies of their passports or identity cards are required.
To avoid any issues, it is best to carry copies of all documents verifying your relationship to any child that may be accompanying you when you travel.