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. The information is archived for that period of time in order to allow national security or law enforcement to be able to access the data in case of any potential investigation. Archived information can only be accessed by a very limited number of officials.
If an ESTA is used instead of a I-94W form , your information can be retained for up to 75 years, and this is in accordance to the I-94W form. Since the Department of Homeland Security is transitioning to a paperless I-94W form, the data on your ESTA application is used instead.
The length of time that your data is stored is consistent with the Customs and Border Protection border search authority and with their mission that was decreed by Congress. Therefore, any information stored in the archives or while it is active can be used for investigation purposes during the stipulated time outlined above. However, any data that matches enforcement activities or investigations will remain accessible as long as law enforcement requires this information. This also includes ESTA applications that have been denied.

Related FAQs


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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Do I need to apply for an ESTA application if my flight passes through U.S. airspace?

No. As long as the plane you are on is not landing in any continental United States territory you do not require any ESTA authorisation (or visa) as you won’t be passing through U.S. customs and immigration or setting foot on U.S. soil.

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Do I need to apply for ESTA if I have a stop-over in the United States?

Yes, even if your final destination is not the United States and you’re stopping at an airport in the U.S. for just an hour or two, you will still need to get an ESTA authorisation. You may not even be able to board your flight if you do not have a valid ESTA, as your airline will request this before your departure.

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