Can I travel without an ESTA? -

Can I travel without an ESTA?

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If you’re planning on visiting the US in the future, then you will need some form of travel authorisation if you are not a US citizen. The quickest and easiest way to get travel authorisation is through an ESTA, which is available for citizens from Visa Waiver Program countries to apply for. It is available for travellers that are entering the US for tourism, business, transit or medical purposes for a stay that is no longer than 90 days in total.
The alternative way is to apply for a US visa, which generally takes much longer and requires attendance at an interview at the US embassy. Applying for an ESTA is much quicker and can usually be completed within a few days, or sometimes much less.

What if you forget to apply for an ESTA?

If you forget to apply for your ESTA, then you will not be allowed to travel. Usually, you will be stopped at your departing airport as you will not have the required travel authorisation to enter the US.
However, there is a chance that you can apply for an ESTA and have it approved within the next few hours before you are scheduled to fly. In many cases, you can apply for your ESTA using an online form and get a response within just a few minutes. This is not the case for everyone, and some applications can take up to 72 hours, which is why it is recommended that you always apply at least 72 hours before your intended flight.

How to apply for an ESTA?

Fortunately, it is very quick to complete the online form, and can usually be done in around 10 minutes. You will need a valid passport, a debit or credit card to make the application fee with and a valid email address that the response will be sent to.
If your ESTA is approved in time for your journey, you will receive an email to say it has been approved and your ESTA will be electronically linked to your passport. It is important that your passport is a biometric one for the ESTA to get linked to it.
When you arrive in the US your passport will be checked at the Customs and Border area and the agent will be able to see that you have a valid ESTA. An ESTA is only required when you are travelling into the US as it is part of the US security and immigration system.
An ESTA will be valid for two years from the date it is issued or until your passport expires, which ever date is the soonest. In that time, whilst your ESTA is valid you are able to make multiple trips to the US using that same ESTA if you wish to. If your passport does expire, you will need to apply for a new ESTA to link to your new passport, it is not possible to transfer an ESTA from one passport onto another one.

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.

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