Do I need ESTA to visit the USA?

I am a citizen of a VWP country and am visiting the U.S.

If you are a citizen of one of the VWP countries and you are travelling to the USA by air or sea using your VWP country passport, you must apply for ESTA, which has been mandatory since 2009. This includes if you are visiting the United States for business, pleasure, or in transit (in this latter case, write "In Transit" in lieu of your address on the application).
On the other hand, if you hold a VWP country passport and are coming to the USA by land, you do not have to apply for ESTA, however, you should return your green I-94W card upon departure. If you are arriving by land and departing by air, you should return your green I-94W card to the airline representative prior to boarding your flight.
If your application for ESTA is approved, then you can stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days at a time. If your stay is intended to be longer, then you will have to apply for a visa. An authorisation under ESTA remains valid for 2 years, or until your passport expires, whichever is sooner and allows for multiple trips under the same authorisation.
It must be noted that an approved travel authorisation under ESTA does not legally qualify to serve in lieu of a United States visa when such is required under U.S. law.

Criminal records

If you have a criminal record related to damage of property, narcotics or harm to individuals or government entities then you cannot apply for an ESTA, and will need to opt for applying for a travel visa. Your current and previous actions will be assessed, and a visa will be granted at the discretion of the embassy.

I am not a citizen of a VWP country

If you are not a citizen of a VWP country, you are required to have a visa, and therefore ESTA does not apply to you.

I am a Canadian citizen

If you are a Canadian citizen and are travelling with a Canadian passport, you do not need to apply for ESTA.

I am a citizen of a Visa Waiver Program country but am a resident of the USA

If you are a lawful resident of the United States and a citizen of one of the 38 Visa Waiver Program countries, you do not need to apply for ESTA.

I have dual citizenship with a VWP country and a non-VWP country

For persons with dual citizenship of a VWP country and a non-VWP country, it is possible to fly under ESTA, but only if you utilise a VWP country passport. Otherwise, you will need a visa.

I am a U.S. citizen with dual citizenship in a VWP country

U.S. citizens do not require an ESTA, and must use their U.S. passport to travel to the USA.

I am a citizen of a VWP country but am going to one of the following specific locations:

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) or Guam:
For international travel under the VWP, ESTA is required. However, nationalities eligible for Guam/CNMI VWP can travel without ESTA. Please be aware that under this specific VWP, the maximum stay is 45 days, and travel must be entirely within those islands and not the United States.
Travel from the U.S. to Guam/CNMI is considered a domestic flight, so ESTA is not required. Persons travelling from Guam/CNMI to the U.S. go through pre-inspection. If that travel is under VWP, ESTA is required.
Short-term business or tourism to Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands:
ESTA is required for travel to these locations for citizens of VWP countries.

Related FAQs


Do I need a digital passport for ESTA?

Yes, all applicants for ESTA must have unexpired, up-to-date, and valid digital passports. This also applies to children of all ages, including infants. The passport must remain valid for the entire duration of your stay in the United States.

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Can I fix a mistake on my ESTA application?

Prior to payment, you can amend all the details in your application. Once you have paid and submitted your ESTA application, there are some mistakes that you can amend but the majority will require for you to submit a completely new application.

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Can a third party fill out my ESTA application for me?

Yes, a third party can fill out your ESTA form for you, as it is not compulsory for the person whose name appears on the form to complete the form themselves. It is acceptable for a third party such as a friend, parent, partner or travel agent to fill out all or part of the form on your behalf.

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