Guide: How to apply for ESTA

If you are travelling to the US and are from a country that is part of the Visa Waiver Program then you will probably need to apply for an ESTA, unless you have an alternative form of visa to permit you to enter the US. Applying for an ESTA is a quick and reasonably easy process but if you have never done it before then you might need some guidance on the application process.
We have listed the steps that you need to complete in order to obtain an ESTA for travel to the United States:
  • Time. Make sure that you give enough time before you are travelling to the US. It is recommended that you apply at least 72 hours before you intend on travelling, although it can take much less than that time to get your ESTA approved.
  • Passport. Check your passport validity. You require citizenship at one of the ountries that form part of the VWP – you can check which countries are included here. If you are a citizen of more than one country, you will be required to provide the details from all of your passports.
  • Internet Connection. Ensure that you have reliable and secure internet connection. If there is a connectivity problem when you are completing the form, you may need to start over again, so it is best to only use a good internet connection.
  • Visit the application page on the website to start your application. There is also a set of FAQs on the website that may answer any questions that you have regarding the ESTA application process.
  • Complete your family information in the first section – this includes the names of your parents. If you do not have this information, you can write "Unknown".
  • Provide your emergency contact details – You are required to provide the details of someone who can be contacted in an emergency, this can be someone in the US or not in the US.
  • Add your US contact and address details – You will need to provide at least the address for the first place that you are staying; either someone’s house or the contact details of a hotel etc. If you are not sure where you are staying yet, you can state "Unknown" and add it later.
  • Provide your employment details if you are in current employment, this includes name, address and telephone number.
  • Complete the section for criminal records / police reports. This information will affect whether you are able to enter the US, so make sure that any information you provide is accurate.
  • Double check all of information. If you submit any inaccurate information, this can cause your application to be declined and severely delay the application, as you may need to re-apply.
  • Make your payment once you are happy that all of the information you have provided is correct. There are several payment options available such as VISA, Mastercard credit and debit cards and American Express.

Group applications

It is sometimes worthwhile to send a group application, so that all the information is submitted at the same time for everyone that is travelling. You can apply for up to 50 applicants in a group ESTA application and the group does not have to be travelling together to use a group ESTA.

Checking your application

You can check the status of your application at any time by visiting the website. If your ESTA is denied, you should check the FAQs to see what the best options are.

Related FAQs

Do I need a new ESTA application if my name has changed due to marriage,divorce, or another legal proceeding?

If your name has changed but you have not yet submitted your application, then you should make your changes and submit it. Although the form can be completed in minutes and the process of obtaining authorisation is usually quick, the U.S. authorities recommend completing the form at least 72 hours prior to your flight, or at the time of booking.

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When should I apply for ESTA?

You can apply for ESTA any time you like but the U.S. government generally recommends people to apply for ESTA 72 hours before their trip. Even though an ESTA can take just minutes or even seconds to be approved, there are some applications that can take the full 72 hours to process.

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What is the difference between ESTA and the US visa?

The US visa system has been in place as far back as 1924 for any non-citizen to visit the US. Since then, the system has developed to help control the criteria for immigration to the US and to protect the US workforce...

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