Do I need to print and bring my ESTA to the airport?

It is not compulsory to print and bring your ESTA but it is recommended as a precaution. When your ESTA form is processed and authorised, you can see this immediately by checking your form. The procedure is normally complete within minutes, but may occasionally take longer.
Your authorisation is based on your passport number, and will be immediately updated in the electronic system so that Border Control recognize you are authorized to enter the U.S. as soon as you present your passport on your check in. The process has been designed by the U.S. government to make the system simple, efficient, paperless, and fully online.
No official document will be sent to you. Your application for travel authorisation will simply be updated to state that it is pending, that is has been approved, or that it has been denied.
The U.S. border control will have the relevant information available to them when you land in the United States, but your airline may not necessarily have access to this, and may choose to request a physical copy of your authorisation. Therefore, it would be best to check with your chosen airline to see whether or not you need to bring a print out of the ESTA with you for the flight.
The U.S. border control will have the relevant information available to them when you land in the United States, but your airline may not necessarily have access to this, and may choose to request a physical copy of your authorisation. Thus, it would be best to check with your flight.
Generally speaking, although it is not essential to print the ESTA authorisation to travel to the U.S., it is considered good practice to keep a copy of the printed form showing the granted authorisation for your own records, and for the unlikely event of any emergency.
Keeping a record of your reference number will be useful, as your ESTA authorisation is valid for 2 years and for all trips to the U.S. you may complete in such period. However, in order to reuse your ESTA, you must ensure all the information within your file remains correct.
If your passport, address, or situation changes, then you should modify your file to renew the authorisation. To do so, you need to visit the website where you originally submitted your application and connect to your file using the reference number you were provided. This is the same as when you make a mistake during the completion of your application form. Therefore, it is a good idea to keep the form and your reference number somewhere safe after printing the document.

Related FAQs


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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How long is my data stored?

Your ESTA application data remains active for the amount of time that your approved ESTA is valid, or until your passport expires, whichever date comes first. The Department of Homeland Security then keeps this information for a further year, after which it is archived for 12 years.

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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.

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